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

2017: Hurricanes Irma and Maria

On St. Thomas and St. John, we provided emergency relief for dogs, cats, horses and other animals suffering from lack of food and shelter after the hurricanes downed fences, removed roofs and destroyed access to fresh water.

2017: Mexico Earthquake

Our team provided emergency medical treatment to animals and distributed almost a ton of food for dogs, cats, horses and cows.

2017: Hurricane Harvey

Our team rescued and cared for pets separated from their owners, and we supported the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) to rebuild their facility used to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles and marine birds.

2017: California Wall fire

When a devastating wildfire consumed more than 6,000, IFAW supported two temporary shelters for 200 small and large animals that were rescued from behind the fire line or dropped off by owners as they left for safety.

2017: Cyclone Debbie

The storm destroyed most of wildlife group Fauna Rescue Whitsundays’ facilities. IFAW’s emergency grant helped rebuild enclosures and aviaries and helped feed and treat animals coming into care.

2017: Mongolia Dzud

After two straight devastating dzuds (summer droughts followed by extremely cold winter temperatures), IFAW supported the Cambridge Mongolia Development Appeal (CAMDA) to provide feed and supplements to herders.

2017: Chile fires

IFAW and Global Alliance for Animals and People partnered to rescue, transport, shelter and care for animal victims of this catastrophe.

2014-16: Ukraine war relief

IFAW provided financial aid to three shelters impacted by war in Eastern Ukraine. More than 900 dogs were cared for at Shelter Pif in Donetsk, 300 dogs and cats at Gorlovka Shelter and 280 animals at the Berdyansk SPCA. Many of the animals were surrendered or abandoned as tens of thousands fled the armed conflict.

2016: Hurricane Matthew

The IFAW Disaster Response team deployed to North Carolina with an animal search and rescue team, transport truck and trailer, boats and emergency sheltering supplies. We rescued animals left behind by residents who were unable to return home.

2016: U.S. Westport animal cruelty case

IFAW assisted with the rescue of more than 1,000 neglected farm animals, providing daily care and veterinary treatments. We lent our forensic skills to collect evidence and equipment and manpower to transport pigs, chickens, cows, sheep, rabbits and goats to an emergency shelter.

2016: Ecuador earthquake

Working with Darwin Animal Doctors and local partners, we provided long-term assistance for thousands of injured, abandoned, and displaced animal victims, including dogs, cats, horses and even a howler monkey.

2016: Australia bushfires

IFAW assisted in Victoria, where fires destroyed thousands of acres of eucalyptus forests. Koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, echidnas and other wildlife in the area suffered horrific burns and needed urgent care.

2015: Asia floods

When historic amounts of rain fell during the yearly monsoon in Southern Asia, deadly floods ravaged the region. IFAW deployed to Myanmar and helped groups responding in India and Pakistan. In Myanmar 4,000 cows in the Ayeyarwady region were provided with live-saving fodder. More than 15,000 animals were helped in the region.

2015: California wildfires

With IFAW funding, a member of our Emergency Relief Network, the North Valley Animal Disaster Group, evacuated and sheltered horses, cattle and pigs.

2015: Chile floods

Thousands of animals were stricken by historic floods and mudslides in Northern Chile. The IFAW-GAAP team delivered water and four tons of food and helped set up 19 dog-feeding stations in the city of Paipote.

2015: Nepal earthquakes

Following two deadly earthquakes, IFAW worked with local partners, including the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Center and Worldwide Veterinary Services. to care for animals in Kathmandu and surrounding areas.

2015: Malawi floods

IFAW teams vaccinated nearly 4000 animals, mostly cattle and goats, against diseases following one of the worst floods in the country’s history.

2014: Typhoon Hagupit

Worked with the Humane Society International to deliver and distribute one ton of dog food in Eastern Samar in the Philippines, along with providing human relief and medical assistance.

2014: Pakistan drought

When a devastating drought struck the Tharparkar District of Pakistan, IFAW and our local partner, the Ravi Foundation, fed more than 2,000 sheep, goats, cows, and buffalo.

2014: Balkans floods

Hit with the worst rainfall in more than 100 years, the Baltic region suffered deadly floods and mudslides. IFAW assisted over 1,000 small and large animals, providing two weeks’ worth of food, and emergency medical care.

2014: US Tupelo tornado

After one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history struck Mississippi, IFAW transported more than 80 dogs from the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society animal shelter to partner shelters in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and New Jersey.

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.


How to apply for a Disaster Response Grant

IFAW is helping animals when they need it most during disasters through our IFAW Disaster Response Grant Project. IFAW’s Disaster Response Grants are possible through generous support from The Walt Disney Company and IFAW supporters around the world.

Learn More


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