IFAW Haiti: Responders Land on the Ground

After a few days of preparation in the Dominican Republic, we landed in Toussaint Louverture airport at 9:20 am local time in Haiti. During the 1-hour flight aboard a small fixed-wing aircraft, we caught a glimpse of the devastation from the air, it wasn’t just the collapsed buildings that caught our eye, but also the masses of displaced people congregating on the streets and living in huge ‘tent cities’ scattered around Port-au-Prince...

Dr. Ian Robinson examines a dog found wandering the streets of Port-au-Prince.This report was filed from Port-au-Prince, by the International Fund for Animal Welfare's (IFAW) ER Communications Officer Michael Booth who is on the ground working with the IFAW/WSPA led Animal Rescue Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) to help the animals abandoned, injured and in need.

After a few days of preparation in the Dominican Republic, we landed in Toussaint Louverture airport at 9:20 am local time in Haiti. During the 1-hour flight aboard a small fixed-wing aircraft, we caught a glimpse of the devastation from the air, it wasn’t just the collapsed buildings that caught our eye, but also the masses of displaced people congregating on the streets and living in huge ‘tent cities’ scattered around Port-au-Prince...

The airport was packed full of Emergency Response teams including helicopters from the US marines, humanitarian groups and a huge UN contingent. We were dropped off in the middle of a grass field next to the runway. Our first, very unexpected, challenge was to find a way carry all our bags and supplies to the airport terminal without getting in the way of cargo planes moving left and right.

We entered a dark, powerless airport and quickly got our passport stamps. The first signs of the earthquake’s fury were visible all across the airport’s cracked walls. There was no time to linger though, Dr. Thomas was picking us up outside to head over to a meeting with Dr. Max Millien the Haitian Minister of Animal Health. In normal circumstances, one would’ve had to head to the city center for these meetings, but like so many buildings there, Dr Millien’s office was under several feet of debris, completely wiped out.

In the interim, several Ministries were setting up in private buildings used as temporary emergency operating centers to hold critical meetings, and this was one such meeting. Some of the agreed upon priorities include prevention of disease outbreaks, and also to help farmers get back on their feet and kick-start the collapsed Haitian economy. The government is grateful for the outpouring of support from IFAW and all the members of the coalition and it was a very productive planning meeting.

 From there we headed to the city center. Among the collapsed building we spotted several dogs and one cat all looking for food, for comfort. They all look pretty undernourished, many were exhibiting signs of disease or injury. Many were traumatized and moved away from us, but when we could the vets provided initial care.

Walking among the wreckage and misery that is Port-au-Prince is nothing one can get used to. Coming back to our base at night, we were inspired by a mass prayer ceremony held at one of the ‘tent cities’. Haitians were dancing and signing, desperately trying to find the peace and the strength to carry on. An entire country is in pain, it’s visible and palpable everywhere you go. Thanks to our supporters, we are here, now, to lend a hand, to assist both humans and animals and bring relief to Haiti.

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For more information and to donate please visit www.ifaw.org.

Comments: 5

 
Anonymous
4 years ago

Thanks for leaders and members from IWAF and ARCH's effort in saving those animals whom are in need of help in this destroyed city and from the picture I could see the puppy find his or her confidant in the end!
Thanks again!

 
Anonymous
4 years ago

THANK YOU for all your work and effort helping the animals. I couldn't help but think about the animals since day one and I am sleeping much better knowing that much much needed help finally arrived. Now if we could only educate the Haitian population to treat their animals better. Thank you again and God bless

 
Anonymous
4 years ago

Thank you for your efforts and for keeping us apprised of the work in Haiti. I am so proud to have been a member and to know that I am among so many caring and giving folk.
We are the keepers of the future of grace and humanity in the world. And the work never stops.
God Bless You!

 
Anonymous
4 years ago

Enormous blog! It is my first time to stay on your blog. You have an awe-inspiring blog for pets. I have the benefit of impression.

 
Anonymous
4 years ago

IFAW rescuers,
Thanks for keeping readers posted on your movements in Haiti.
Do there seem to be many feral dogs and cats in Port au Prince? There is debate on several animal welfare sites, about whether there are, and where donations are going.
In case it's useful to mention, I've sometimes seen skittish feral dog colonies form around garbage dumps, in developing communities with weak infrastructure.
Thank you again for being there--it must not be easy.
Fabien Tepper
Sentient Cincinnati Blog

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