Guatemala: we’re racing to save thousands of animals after deadly Volcano of Fire erupts

June 07 2018

Cattle, pigs, horses and chickens are just some of the animals struggling to survive after Volcán de Fuego erupted in Guatemala on June 3. We’re providing emergency food, medication and shelter

The eruption produced a river of red-hot lava and thick clouds of smoke nearly six miles into the air, leaving villages, one of them called El Rodeo, buried under the volcanic ash and mud. The volcano is just 27 miles from Guatemala City, the country’s capital.

As many as 200 people are missing and an estimated 75 have died. These numbers do not include the countless animals and livestock who will have also perished.

Many people have fled with their animals and taken them to shelters, so we’re assisting injured and unwell animals at these locations.

A resident cradles his dog after rescuing him near the Volcan de Fuego, or "Volcano of Fire," in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. A fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing dozens as rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)

"Right now, our work is to help those animals in dire need; injured, without food or water and at high risk of disease." Sergio Vásquez, Disaster Response officer and Mario Sapon, Disaster Liaison Officer from World Animal Protection attend to a dog’s neck injury.

Difficulty gaining access

Due to safety issues and risks of secondary eruptions, some badly-affected villages are currently off limits.

Our disaster response team is working with volunteers from local non-profit Equino Sano Foundation to gain access to the disaster zone, so we can help as many pets and farm animals as possible.

Our global director of disaster management said: “Seeing the impact of the volcano here is devastating. The government and humanitarian agencies are doing a fantastic job.

“Right now, our work is to help those animals in dire need; injured, without food or water and at high risk of disease. Our aim is to help those who are in shelters first, and once safe to do so race to those who have been left behind.

“Local communities who have survived this catastrophe will only suffer more, if they have no animals or livestock to help them long after the aid has gone, with their livelihoods, transport and food.”

A police officer carries a chicken in the ash-covered village of San Miguel Los Lotes, in Escuintla Department, about 35 km southwest of Guatemala City, on June 4, 2018, a day after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano. At least 25 people were killed, according to the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred), when Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted Sunday, belching ash and rock and forcing the airport to close. AFP/Johan ORDONEZ 

Coming together

The Guatemalan community is working hard to save its animals and people, and we’re there alongside them doing everything we can to help.

Once we’ve helped surviving animals and animal owners back on their feet, we’ll be assessing wider and longer-term needs with the government, to keep animals safe in the future.

Updates from the field

Pictures and updates from our team in the disaster zone.

Our Disaster Response Officer, Sergio Vásquez, feeds local dogs in the disaster zone. Many domesticated animals like these dogs have been left to fend for themselves.

In the heart of one of the affected areas of Volcán del Fuego's eruption, our disaster response officer, Sergio Vásquez, works to gain the trust of a stranded and emaciated dog in need of food.

Sergio Vásquez assesses a horse in the disaster zone.

Sergio Vásquez feeds a local cat in one of the affected areas by Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala.

Animals need us

Protecting animals after disasters is vital. Thanks to our supporters’ generous donations, we’re able act quickly to protect the animals who need us most. Please consider making a donation to help the animals affected by the volcanic eruption in Guatemala.

Top image: A volunteer firefighter rescues a dog from the disaster zone near the Volcan de Fuego, or "Volcano of Fire," in Escuintla, Guatemala, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala killed scores as rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

“Local communities who have survived this catastrophe will only suffer more, if they have no animals or livestock to help them long after the aid has gone, with their livelihoods, transport and food.”

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