Update from Italy: April 24/09
Our partners on the ground from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise "G. Caporale" (IZS A&M) who were on-scene hours after the quake struck, told us about a heartwarming story of a girl and her pet dog. Veterinarian Paolo Dalla Villa from IZS A&M explains:
“Immediately after the earthquake, we were approached by the Italian Red Cross, who had found a dog named Nikki, that they wanted us to try to reunite it with its owner. When I arrived at the refugee camp in l'Aquila with the dog in my car I found out that she was owned by a little girl who had lost everything in the earthquake, except Nikki.”
Paolo added that one of the immediate challenges faced in L’Aquila is with displaced pets that need food in the tent cities and stray dog control that is dealt with a specific action plan, according to the “no kill” Italian regulation for the protection of pet animals.
For the past week, IFAW vet contractor Andrea Capobianco has been working from the Emergency Operations Center to provide key logistical guidance and has also deployed to some of the hardest-hit areas in search of trapped or injured animals. In two separate incursions this week, the rescue team, integrated by 5 dog catchers and 4 vets, brought 12 dogs and 17 cats to the center. All of them underwent veterinary check-ups and were micro-chipped. Of those, 3 dogs and 6 cats were happily reunited with their owners and 15 dogs were adopted. In those 2 days, 6 cats needed emergency medical assistance while 2 of them had surgery to heal bone fractures. A large number of people continue to visit the kennel looking for food, medications and ant parasitic drugs to care for their own animals. Andrea Capobianco talks about field work:
“On the 19th a dog, named Chicco, had been found alone on the road. After he was caught, he was micro-chipped and was ready to be shipped to another city. Thanks to the pictures we took before sending him out on the 21st , his owner was able to identify him and they were reunited just in time!.”
By April 19, the Emergency Hotline had received 400 calls for help leading to 201 animals including dogs, cats, horses, cattle and others assisted in this disaster.
In addition to our collaboration with IZS, IFAW has awarded a grant to local group Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV) working around the clock in L’Aquila to save animals affected by the disaster. LAV has actively cooperated with the rescue team and firemen to rescue and evacuate animals trapped in houses, provide food, vet care, micro chipping and reuniting pets with owners.
Photo: IFAW / S.Hughes