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February 3, 2010

Haiti Update: Second Haiti Team on the Ground

The HSI/HSUS response team has gathered on the ground to assess animal welfare issues and assist animals in the hardest-hit areas of Haiti.

 

Yesterday was our second-wave team's first day of reassessment and fieldwork. 

Now that the waves of substantial aftershocks have dissipated, thousands of people in Haiti have begun the arduous task of rebuilding their lives. Staggering to contemplate even with a wealth of resources at one's disposal, in the abject poverty of this island community, recovery and reconstruction would seem to be nearly insurmountable challenges. 

As the displaced congregated in Port-au-Prince, a myriad of tent cities began to appear throughout the area. What were once parks and town squares are now overcrowded, bustling camps; shelters made from tents, tarps and sheets are the only housing available to many of the affected residents. Piles of refuse and streams of sewage cover the streets and sidewalks. Garbage is disposed of through incineration of heaps of plastic bottles, fruit rinds, discarded meat and debris, filling the air with a white haze and pungent smell. Parents and children resort to bathing in the street using buckets of cloudy water. 

Among these sprawling Bedouin-like encampments, the street dogs of Port-au-Prince began to gather. As scraps of moldy food are discarded, the malnourished animals waste no time in recovering them. They scour the grounds for any edible remnants. Our team visited one of the many camps to assess the numbers and needs of the animals in the area around this tent city. Many of the dogs we encountered were gentle and quite approachable. Several could even be held. HSI volunteer Dr. Megan Hlusko provided some preliminary medical evaluations, treated the dogs for parasites and provided some injectable nutritional supplements. As our team leader, Dave Pauli, commented, by helping animals, we're helping people too because treating these dogs for parasites reduces the risk of their transmission to humans.

Chris Broughton is an HSI Disaster Certified Responder and vet tech.

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