IFAW Haiti Response: Update from ARCH Incident Command
This report was filed by Gerardo Huertas, Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) Incident Commander currently in Port-au-Prince. For more information, please visit the IFAW.org website.
21 Feb: ARCH's mobile clinic offers primary vet attention in the streets of Port au Prince
Ten year old Kenny brought his dog Vito, who had an infection. “It has been sick for a long time, but I don’t know any vets and don’t have any money to take it to one”, said Kenny. We gave the dog antibiotics and vitamins, and we’ll come back next week to check its progress.
Now we’ve got the mobile clinic, we can have two lines of people waiting: one outside for dogs, aggressive animals and farm animals, and one inside for cats and wounded animals.
19 Feb: ARCH’s mobile clinic arrives to Haiti
The mobile veterinary clinic donated by the Human Society of Antigua and Barbuda finally arrived in Port au Prince, after more than a week dealing with red tape to bring it in from the Dominican Republic. It crossed the border around five o’clock in the morning with a WSPA team directed by Sergio Vasquez, our disaster management officer from Costa Rica.
Today was also the first day of work for the local vet team hired by ARCH. We treated 189 animals in Lilavois in Port au Prince; mainly dogs and goats, but also pigs, chickens, cows, ducks and cats. They focused on deworming, vaccination and vitamin supplies.
People are coming from everywhere, bringing their animals. It’s clear that a lot of these animals have never been treated by vets before.
Treatment of Haiti's Animals Continues
A few days ago we drove out to Leogane to run a temporary clinic. Driving out of town, the landscape becomes calmer. There are fallen buildings here and there, but the greenery tries to compensate for it.
We set up camp under the trees, surrounded by a half-fallen house, a bush full of thorns, a few banana trees and a big mango tree facing a dusty road. A man with a bike and a loudspeaker went around the village announcing our arrival and urging people to bring their animals. Soon, the first wave of goats arrived, followed by pigs, cattle, dogs, more goats and some of the wildest cats on earth. Our team got busy administering anthrax and rabies vaccines, vitamins and specific treatments for specific cases.
After noon, when everybody returned from praying, there was such a huge influx of people that we could not cope, so we promised to come back the next day.
At the end of each day, we have to look around for ice for the vaccines and gasoline for the vehicles and generator, secure the vehicles, close the gate, bring buckets of water for the toilet (it makes you appreciate running water!), wash, eat, sort out the equipment, plan for the next day, count the day’s output, discuss lessons we have learnt, have a beer, turn on the emergency generator to try and send messages to our loved ones and go to bed early, as a similar day awaits early in the morning. Falling asleep is easy.
The Haitian Ministry of Agriculture has sent us two Haitian veterinarians to add to our team. We are Haitian, Dominican and American, speaking French, Creole, English and Spanish, so communication is interesting!
It rained in the morning, so the streets surrounding emergency shelters and fallen buildings look like bean soup. There are still lots of broken pipes causing little streams everywhere, which people are jumping over and dogs are drinking.
Tomorrow we’re heading into Port au Prince to treat as many dogs as we can. There are no reliable records on how many have been vaccinated against rabies, so we’ll have to do a bit of our own research. We’re stocked with about 3 months worth of medicines, so I hope we’ll get to Port au Prince safely.