Responding to Ecuador’s earthquake

DAD veterinarians are working alongside Accion Animal Ecuador to start vaccination campaigns. PHOTO: © DAD/Lobo Marina

Quiet is the most frightening sound after a disaster. 

It means that rescue crews, victims’ loved ones, and officials have reluctantly moved from the phase of rescue to that of recovery.

At this time last year our teams were still working to help animals and people in Nepal following a series of devastating earthquakes.

That quiet time on the broken streets of Kathmandu still haunts me.

Ecuador officials estimate that more than 20,000 people are homeless due to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Latin American country on April 16. Many of them are determined to stay in their communities but at a loss for how to move forward.

The injured must start their recovery too, both emotionally and physically. Humans and animals caught by falling debris as the earth shakes beneath them often struggle alone while others mourn lost loved ones taken too soon.

In Ecuador our local partner Darwin Animal Doctors (DAD) is reaching out to help as many people and animals as possible in the wake of the earthquakes.

Medical staff and volunteers need our support to stay in the field, to keep saving lives. Survivors need more help than ever as time passes – it is not enough to show up only right after the disaster; we must commit to helping these animals and communities heal together.

Hundreds of dogs, horses and backyard farm animals, a variety of wildlife including owls, alligators, turtles, monkeys, and parrots have needed care. One tiny baby howler monkey was found alone and had suffered multiple injuries. When he was rescued, he was so frightened he would not let go of rescuers. For days they took turns carrying him. He is now receiving expert veterinary care at a specialized facility. 

Dr. María Cristina Cely, DAD veterinarian working alongside Accion Animal Ecuador, reiterates this need in a recent post:

We are starting vaccination campaigns. This is really important for human health as well as the animals’ health. We know these areas by the coast can have a huge incidence of Leptospirosis, which is a deadly bacteria transmitted through the urine of pets. There is rabies as well! So this would be of life-or-death importance, not just for the animals, but for the human survivors.”

Time and time again, we quickly follow up emergency care and stabilization with vaccination clinics and health support in the Philippines, Pakistan, Malawi and India.

We believe in our colleagues and stand ready to assist them in any way we can. Empowering local responders, medical students, and future leaders of the community with first-hand experience of saving lives is priceless.

So many people have come together to care for those less fortunate in Ecuador, they need our strength now more than ever.


You can help us save animals in Ecuador and all the suffering animals that need us.

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy