Update from Italy: May 1, 2009
The International Fund for Animal Welfare continues to support animal emergency relief teams on the ground in quake-ravaged Italy. The following personal account is from Stefano Petrazzini working on behalf of the Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV)- a group supported by IFAW.
Thanks to many generous donations, we took another journey this week with two cars full of pet food, dog kennels and medications to the earthquake zone. In the process, we have seriously risked melting the engine on the climbing hills!
Today, I will talk about eyes. At first not about the eyes of our animal friends, but about the eyes of the people we met in the tents or on the roads in the countryside - the eyes of the veterinarians of the Piazza d'Armi (L'Aquila) camp, our first stop where we delivered food, medicines and bedding for cats.
The vets are working both for the animals and for their human friends and they help people to be able to keep their pets with them. One way to do this is by providing cleaning kits so that the presence of dogs in the tents doesn’t become a problem. These people have already lost practically everything so the company of their beloved four-legged friends is something that keeps them going.
And then the eyes of a woman in the camp of Coppito, our second stop. A cage for her bird is a sign that life can start over. Then we see the grateful eyes of another lady for whom a cat carrier means that she can go back to take care for her kitty.
Then of course there are the eyes of the non-humans. Now they have food, maybe more than ever, but they need a caress, a friendly face - because they have lost the one person that took care of them every day. Some dogs show their joy from the start but there are also cautious ones that approach and wait patiently for their turn to be patted. And then the eyes full of happiness of the strays at our third stop. These dogs are well cared for by the locals in a fenced enclosure near San Felice d'Ocre where we delivered dog kennels, food, shelter and many pats…
All the eyes – human and non human – communicated a great desire for normality, for the regular daily life. For us this is the real challenge. We must provide them with the means to go back to normal. Maybe now there seems to be plenty of aid, but in time it may not be this way, and our help in the future will be crucial. We will make sure to be there for them, to help and to donate and to work in order to make their lives and their eyes become plainly and wonderfully ‘normal’.
Photo courtesy of LAV.