Humane Society International is on the ground in Puerto de Veracruz working with Mexican groups and government authorities to assess the needs of hundreds of stranded animals affected by the heavy rains from several tropical storms and Hurricane Karl. While many have been reached and returned to their owners, many more are still in need of food and water and rescue from abandoned homes.
The areas affected—Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas—have suffered similar crises before and residents are familiar with evacuation procedures, though they usually occur post-flooding. So far, there have been very few human fatalities.
“Many families have been evacuated; we’ve learned that most of those who stayed did so to protect their companion animals rather than leave them behind,” said Kelly O’Meara, director, HSI Companion Animals. “The Mexican government’s disaster response plan currently does not include animals, and the result is that dogs and are cats trapped on rooftops for days on end without food or clean water, in temperatures hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Rescue operations organized by locals have reached some animals, including donkeys and piglets, but many animals remain trapped in their homes.
On Sunday, HSI’s first day on the ground in Mexico, the HSI team did an assessment in the city of Veracruz. They quickly went into rescue mode to address immediate needs. Many people began giving HSI responders their addresses in the hopes of recovering the animals they had to leave behind. HSI then began collaborating with the Mexican federal agency in charge of the evacuation operations, to go in and retrieve pets, bringing them ashore to reunite with their owners. HSI pulled people and pets from the floods and transported them together to safety in boats. HSI also visited homes to do food drops for animals still in need.
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