IFAW Disaster Response: earthquake in Mexico

As soon as we had heard of the terrible earthquake in Mexico City, our team in Playa del Carmen knew we had to respond. Together with our partner Coco’s Animal Welfare, we assembled a team of veterinarians to rescue and treat animals injured in the quake.


IFAW responds in the aftermath of earthquake in Mexico

When we arrived at the counter of Aeromexico for our flight to Mexico City, we noticed that the staff was trying to sort something out in whispers. After a few minutes, they told us that because we were going to assist animals in need, our fees for the extra luggage would be waived. I wanted to cry, I was deeply moved, is not every day that veterinary assistance is given high importance. 


We drove with our local partner, Coco’s Animal Welfare to isolated communities that were severely affected by the earthquake in the State of Morelos.

We started our journey early the next day to get supplies and hit the jammed roads. The goal was to establish a route to the communities we plan to assess in collaboration and coordination with a coalition of NGOs called "Ayudemos a Mexico” of which IFAW is part, in order to avoid duplication of efforts and be the most helpful we can be.

What normally would have been very busy streets were almost empty. On our way out to Morelos, we found people holding signs saying not to honk the horn or make noise; they were clearly trying to listen for sounds made by survivors under the rubble…. My heart wrenched.

IFAW Disaster Response: Earthquake in Mexico

We stopped in several stores to buy all of the things we needed. Fortunately, there were many donations of wet food that we took with us, from a veterinary clinic - one of the best in Mexico City - who also offered the little space they had at reception so people could drop donations for the animals in need.  Later we finally arrived where the rest of the team was, and we discussed the best course of action and the best use of our resources.

IFAW Disaster Response: Earthquake in Mexico

Rescue: Canelita

When we met Lupita, she was losing hope that she’d ever see her beloved cat Canelita again. Her house had collapsed days ago and Canelita was terrified – she was not coming down from her perch. As the hours and days went on, Lupita heard Canelita’s meows less and less… she feared the worst. In times of chaos, the comfort provided by companion animals is unmatched – we knew we had to help.

Author, Dr. Erika Flores meets with Lupita to discuss Canelita's rescue.

Canelita (Cinnamon in English) peers down from her perch.

After the safety of the structure was assessed, our team moved in. We worked to safely climb as close to Canelita’s hiding perch as we could and set a humane trap baited with some tuna – Canelita’s favorite - and hoped for the best.

IFAW Disaster Response: Earthquake in Mexico

After what felt like hours for us (and probably days for Lupita) Canelita climbed into the cage – one step closer to being back with her family! Our team safely climbed back to ground level, Canelita in hand, where an excited owner awaited. Lupita was elated and we were humbled to be able to provide them both with a moment of comfort and happiness in the midst of so much loss.


Resuce: America

We met a beautiful Belgian Shepherd named America after her home collapsed. She was found trapped by a structural beam, unable to get herself free. Tragically, her companion, another dog living in the home didn’t make it. America was rushed to a local veterinary clinic where she was given emergency medical treatment.

Her wound was very deep, but Dr. Oscar Dominguez and his team were able to treat her wound, give her fluids and a comforting bath despite their clinic being over capacity for days. In addition to donating medicine, IFAW has set up a permanent dog and cat food distribution center at the clinic – a critical service for local animals in need.

Thanks to this collaborative effort, and the quick work of people with boundless compassion for animals, America is doing much better, one step closer to being safely home with her family. 

Community Aid: Humberto's Cows

His cows are pretty much all Humberto Jimenez has left after the earthquake.  Food is scarce for both humans and animals so each day Humberto walks a great distance to bring his cows to grassy areas to feed. To help alleviate this burden, our team is providing food during this incredibly trying time.

Weeks will pass before we know the extent of the damage to properties and communities. Years will pass before everything is back to normal. The situation in Mexico is heartbreaking. 


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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