Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Animals Were Victims of the Tsunami Too

The major media hasn't reported much about the plight of the animals who were also victims of the Asian tsunami. All I heard was that the wild animals sensed the impending tidal wave and ran for higher ground, but people had pets who are now homeless and hungry. In Sri Lanka and Thailand animal deaths have been limited mostly to pets. IOL reports that some of the dogs have resorted to eating some of the corpses. Apparently wild animals were able to flee to safety, but farm animals were not. Like most pets, the homeless animals will eat or drink things that are not good for them, like contaminated water. A veterinarian is rounding up strays in Thailand:

Kiartisak said he felt he was helping the stray dogs, who are generally perceived in Thailand as ugly, dirty and smelly.

If people begin to care for animals that generally have been shunned by many, it is an indication that people in society have developed spiritually," he said

Humane Society International reports on their blog from South Asia:

Dr. Putu Listrianai Wistawan, Jill Robinson, Animals Asia, and I joined Margot, John Dallie, and Yvonne de Gaay Stekelenburg on their regular feeding routes. This dropped us smack dab into the reality of what these dogs are facing. The dog population has been estimated at 17,000 dogs.

Our first stop was at the Patong river, where there is nothing left of a small subsistence fishing colony. I had to hold back tears at the sight of a dog standing on the foundation, the only thing left of the house, looking out to the river as if anticipating the arrival of his owner. He now joins other unfortunate homeless dogs.

When Margot and Yvonne arrived, the dogs immediately recognized the truck, and started running across the bridge and barking beside the vehicle. It was amazing. I had a flash of the pied piper. Margot said the dogs used to jump into the river and swim to the other side and wait for her at the feeding spot, but they were afraid of the water. We fed them in a different place than usual—it was a concrete foundation slab with blue-and-white print linoleum. I guessed we were feeding them in what used to be someone’s kitchen.


Our next stop was Wat Kamala, once a beautiful temple, which was heavily damaged. Three monks and 15 of the 25 dogs there perished. We were received so warmly by the monks. The relationship between the monks and the dogs is very special. The monks are the primary caretakers of the dogs, but now all of them need a little caretaking—they all are making do in the ruined temple, which rests just 30 meters from the beach.

The main problem facing these homeless dogs is the fact that the restaurant and food stalls, which used to feed them, are all destroyed. The area that was once full of restaurants, food sellers and tourists is now just rubble.

Donations are being accepted for Humane Society International here. If you prefer to use PayPal, you can donate directly to Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand. I hadn't heard of the latter organization before, but they are recommended by Friends of, so I trust that they are legitimate.