Animals Still Need Our Help Long After Natural Disasters Fade from Headlines

It’s no secret that animals and pets are often an afterthought when it comes to natural disasters. Sure, relief crews come in to help people and property, and they try to assist the animals impacted as well, but what happens to many of them after the initial relief efforts wind down and all of the extra hands on deck dry up?

storm surge from hurricane
Photo: Pixabay/Wickedgood

Take Turkey and Syria back in February 2023, for example, when devastating quakes rolled through the region, killing tens of thousands and leaving even more homeless. Rescue workers arrived in full force from across the globe to help dig people and pets out, but the crews left months ago. While they were able to reunite some of the survivors with their beloved pets, what about those whose owners weren’t ever coming back?

earthquake rubble
Photo: Pixabay/Angelo_Giordano

According to animal rescuer Mehmet Gürkan Tığoğlu of Turkey, “We domesticated them. Now we can’t leave them by themselves. This is what we did to them, so this is what we have to do for them,” he noted to The Christian Science Monitor recently.

forest fire
Photo: Pixabay/AdinaVoicu

And it isn’t just earthquakes that can leave areas unrecognizable. Consider wildfires, tornados, flooding, and hurricanes. We haven’t even hit prime forest fire season yet, and we’re seeing parts of the Northeast inundated with unprecedented rainfall that has left places like New York and Vermont reeling to combat the rising waters. So, what can you do to help?

tornado aftermath in Oklahoma
Photo: Pixabay/15299

Recognize the fact that once the media presence dies down there is still plenty more to be done. Shelters and rescues are overwhelmed when natural disasters hit. They need all of the volunteers they can get. For weeks and even months afterward there are displaced animals still out there hungry, tired, and often fearful. Just because the camera crews are gone doesn’t mean they are, too.

floodwaters cows
Photo: Pixabay/ArtTower

Keep an eye out for lost animals. If you see farm animals or livestock, contact the local authorities in your area and give them the information regarding their whereabouts. If it’s a domesticated pet, see if you can coax them into going with you or return with a nonlethal trapping device and see if you can’t capture them that way.

lost dog flooding
Photo: Pixabay/npt432

Instead of taking them to a rescue/shelter — assuming they don’t need medical attention — take them home and try to stabilize their emotional and physical condition through food and baths in a safe, comforting environment. Once that happens, take pictures of them and start posting them on social media and apps like Nextdoor. You can also peruse sites like Craigslist with lost animal sections to see if anyone has posted about them there.

Chances are someone is looking for them. By going the extra mile, you can remove a lot of the stress these helpless creatures and their heartbroken owners feel and feel a whole lot better about yourself in the process.

“This work is so important,” Tığoğlu added. “Imagine a person who has lost everything. To find their pet gives them one small hope so that they can continue surviving.”

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