IFAW dispatches emergency response teams to any and all areas around the world where animals are in distress. Natural disasters include fires, floods, severe storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes, drought, earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. IFAW also responds to disasters due to human causes, including oil spills, nuclear reactor accidents, financial crises, armed conflicts and rampant animal cruelty and neglect (puppy mills, dog fighting and hoarding).
While many natural disasters cause great financial hardship and can tragically result in loss of human life, animals are often forgotten in the chaos. Even though wildlife has adapted to extreme situations to some extent, they can often be victims of injury or desperately lacking food and shelter as a result of the disaster. Domesticated animals, dependent on human caretakers for survival, are often left to perish.
IFAW leads, funds and provides assistance to animal rescue groups to assess disaster situations, formulate plans, and take action. We provide food, equipment, medical supplies, and emergency expertise to help rescue, provide care, and when safe to do so, reunify pets with their families and/or return wildlife to the wild.
IFAW is constantly forging new collaborations to establish robust Emergency Relief Networks (ERNs) in strategic places around the world, including Southeast Asia, India and the US. ERNs build local response capacity for our partners through best practices which standardize preparedness, response and recovery protocols at the community level. For more on ERNs and best practices, go here.
Our disaster response requires a wealth of resources and funds. For more on our funding partners, go here.
A timeline of major disasters and IFAW’s response
2014: Indonesia volcanoes
Helped companion animals, wildlife, and farm animals abandoned during mandatory evacuations after the eruptions of Mt. Kelud and Mt. Sinabung. We provided food, veterinary care, and temporary sheltering.
2014: West Virginia cat hoarding rescue
Collaborated with ERN partners, local social service and law enforcement to lead an IFAW team of experts in the rescue of close to 100 cats from four residences. We supported emergency medical care, sheltering daily care, rehabilitation, and rehoming in a very successful multi-site adoption event.
2013: Typhoon Haiyan
Animal rescuers from IFAW and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) administered vaccines, injectable vitamins, and antibiotics for more than 1000 dogs, cats, and livestock.
2013: Cyclone Phailin
An IFAW-WTI rescue team provided emergency relief to animals affected by the super cyclone Phailin in Andhra Pradesh, India, attending to thousands of affected domestic animals and hundreds of open bill storks.
2013: Colorado floods
Helped Colorado Horsecare Foodbank feed more than 370 horses and more than 100 other livestock animals by distributing more than 500 bales of hay and grain.
2013: Germany floods
When record-breaking floods struck Central Europe, IFAW mobilized local and international teams to assist in rescues and feed distribution efforts for companion and farm animals in Germany.
2013: Moore, Oklahoma tornado (companion animals and wildlife responses)
IFAW shelter teams worked with pets that were displaced from their families. IFAW also helped the Wildcare Foundation care for its 600 additional wild animal victims, including fawns, baby skunks and bobcats.
2013: Cyprus crisis
Sent an IFAW emergency response team and funds to distribute 332 bags of food to six shelters on Cyprus, helping feed 1,500 dogs and cats.
2012: Typhoon Bopha
An IFAW team distributed 6.5 tons of dog food and 2 tons of pig feed, enough to feed 2,175 dogs and 725 pigs for two weeks.
2012: Hurricane Isaac
Working at a mega-shelter in Alexandria, LA and assisting a local county shelter in Waveland, MS, IFAW helped care for 183 cats and dogs in Louisiana and 60 in Mississippi. Thirty of those dogs were successfully transported by IFAW to receiving shelters in Pennsylvania, Washington DC, and Maine.
2012: Superstorm Sandy
Helped more than 2,800 animals across five different states following a huge storm that ravaged the Northeast United States.
2011: Libya/Tripoli Zoo
Provided support and funding to assist the 700 animals in the zoo during the uprising and removal of Muammar al-Gaddafi from power.
2011: Thailand floods
Sent an assessment team after Bangkok suffered one of its worst floods in history and provided grants to local groups that provided food, water and vet care for more than 2,800 dogs, cats, and wildlife victims of the flood.
2011: Fukushima nuclear reactor response
IFAW immediately sent a team to conduct assessments and subsequently organized a summit in Tokyo that gathered nuclear radiation experts. A comprehensive document detailing response procedures and protocols to safely monitor, evacuate and treat animals contaminated by radiation was delivered to sectors of the Japanese government.
2010: Haiti earthquake
IFAW-led Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti helped more than 68,000 animals and made long-term improvements to animal welfare facilities in Haiti after its devastating earthquake.
2010: Pakistan floods
Partnered with a local humanitarian group to launch an emergency feeding operation in Punjab, Pakistan for 22,945 animals. IFAW’s $100k grant also sourced recycled water and food troughs for 1,000 families and girders to build animal shelters. Animals included goats, sheep, cattle, water buffalo, horses and donkeys. IFAW continues to respond to these recurring disasters across Pakistan.
2009: Australia Bushfires
Sent a team and mobile unit to help wildlife stricken by the deadliest bushfires in Australia’s history. A total of 142 animals including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, companion animals, and others were saved and IFAW continued support of wildlife centers for extended care. IFAW continues to respond to these recurring disasters across Australia.
2009: Madagascar oil spill
IFAW staff rushed to Madagascar to help stop over 100 melon-headed whales from stranding along the islands’ shores, and among other measures, attempted to herd the animals to the open water of the ocean.
2008: China earthquake
IFAW provided anti-rabies vaccinations as well as six tons of food and supplies for animals and their owners.
2005: Hurricane Katrina
IFAW conducted rescue operations, saving thousands of animals.
2004: Southern Asia tsunamis
IFAW provided emergency assistance for wildlife, pets, and farm animals.
2000: South African oil spill
With 38,000 penguins in oil, IFAW-led efforts helped ensure that 90 percent of the birds were successfully released back to the wild.