Latin America is a hotbed of natural disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, mudslides and fires all occur regularly. Combined with a lack of any kind of protective legislation for animals, the post-disaster chaos leaves no room for the provisioning and care of injured or homeless pets, livestock and wildlife.
Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, laying claim to the largest ever recorded earthquake of 9.5 in 1960. In just the last five years, the country has suffered some extreme disasters including two earthquakes greater than 8.0 in the north and south-central regions, a devastating tsunami that obliterated much of the central coastal area, and a ravaging fire that destroyed over 2,000 homes in Valparaiso- a UNESCO world heritage site.Elena Garde, Program Director
The lack of a national plan to assist animals during disasters has made international news – much as did the homeless pets following Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, even these public pressures have not been sufficient to prompt the government to develop preparedness plans for families with animals.
Response activities immediately following the disaster are under the umbrella of the national disaster agency. With no concrete plan, this has resulted in massive influxes of well-intentioned but inexperienced volunteers to disaster sites.
Sadly, their attempts are uncoordinated. There are non-veterinarians practicing medicine and surgery, there is no plan for receiving or distributing donations, there is no procedure for connecting owners with lost pets. Moreover, there are no facilities to house injured/abandoned animals, and volunteers put themselves at extreme risk in very dangerous settings, leading to fatalities.
Our Disaster Relief
We recognize a critical need to coordinate the post-disaster animal response in Chile, and to develop a model for helping animals and responders in these situations, across Latin America. Partnering with an international organization (International Fund for Animal Welfare) with over 25 years of experience in disaster response, our objectives are to work closely with local and national governments to develop appropriate plans for animals and to create a network of trained response professionals.
Emergency Response Network (ERN)
Using the lessons learned following Hurricane Katrina, we are developing a network of professionals along the length of the country that are interested in coordinating efforts among animal organizations, veterinarians and universities. We seek out those who are interested in receiving the necessary training in the incident command system to lead an effective response.
Public Policy & Co-ordination
Through the formation and growing reputability of the ERN, we are meeting with top officials in the countries disaster response agency. The objective is to develop a formal agreement to bring animals under the umbrella of their response thereby authorizing the control of the animal response to the ERN.
We provide internationally recognized training courses to individuals that will be recognized as responders in disasters.