By Michelle Reynolds
As we open our hearts and wallets to the victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, let’s not forget about those who often go unmentioned: Animals.
Before the earthquakes began, animals were reportedly behaving strangely: Seemingly panicked birds were flying erratically, and dogs howled. Although unsubstantiated, these claims aren’t surprising. Observational studies of many different species have shown that animals’ ability to sense earthquakes before they occur is superior to that of seismology equipment. Animals are intelligent in ways that we’ll likely never fully understand, and tragedies like this have a significant impact on them, too.
Beloved dogs, cats and other companions were curled up in beds and on rugs when their worlds were shattered. Due to the scope of the devastation, many stray animals, who were already struggling to survive on the streets, are in danger of starving to death before rescue teams can reach them. Animals trapped on farms, including working horses and donkeys, and wild animals also suffered when the ground beneath them split open and the buildings surrounding them collapsed. Many are now displaced, injured or searching for their loved ones. All are traumatized. These victims, too, need reassurance, kindness, shelter from the bitter cold, food, water and medical care. Local animal protection groups are inundated with calls for help.
PETA’s Global Compassion Fund is providing a network of animal organizations throughout the area with financial support, and PETA U.K. is on the ground in devastated Kahramanmaraş. Working with shelters and volunteers, they’ve been able to rescue many animals, including 40 birds who were trapped in a pet shop basement that was teetering on the brink of collapse. The team transports injured animals seven hours to the closest open veterinary clinic in Adana before heading back. They’re also delivering food and water to animals who’ve been without both for days. This disaster occurred while just across the Black Sea, PETA Germany and its partners in Ukraine continued to carry out vital rescue efforts there, helping abandoned and injured animals on the front lines of the war. For months, these heroes — organizations and brave volunteers — have been risking their lives to save animals from battle-torn areas and transport them to a temporary shelter in Poland, partner shelters in other countries and foster and adoptive homes. They’ve come to the aid of animals hit by bullets, left behind by families forced to flee and carried to the borders by heartbroken guardians in the hope that someone will give them a better life. Rescuers have saved thousands of animals so far. Those in Turkey and Syria will also likely need help for several months.
As we each determine the best way we can help following this tragedy, let’s give all the victims the consideration they deserve. And as the images of tents and piles of rubble fade from our television screens and news of the earthquakes falls from the headlines, let’s not forget them. Let’s continue to do what we can and continue to ensure that our kindness includes all kinds.