Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) Arrives in Haiti: AVMA-AVMF
Jan. 27, 2010 – A coalition of animal protection groups has arrived in Haiti to aid animals imperiled by the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. The team represents the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), which was formed specifically to deal with the Haiti crisis and which includes both the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) as partners.
The ARCH team has begun meeting with officials from the Haitian government as well as international agencies, such as the United Nations, to define the most pressing animal-related problems as well as identify long-term planning options. Among the concerns are possible outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis.
"We had not considered including animals in the plans we're working up now, but after meeting the ARCH team, we can see that it would be good to do so," said Haitian Minister of Environment Jean Marie Claude Germain. "In addition to preventing deforestation and protecting our water reserves, we are also discussing the need for a vaccination program in order to prevent the spread of diseases amongst the animal populations."
Only about 20 percent of Haiti's estimated 500,000 dogs were vaccinated against rabies last year, according to ARCH officials. In addition, Haiti lacks sufficient medicine and vaccine to protect pigs, cattle, and other livestock against common illness, such as anthrax and pig cholera.
"We are now at high risk of disease, which is why it is so important to start a vaccination campaign as soon as possible," said Dr. Michel Chancy, Haiti's Minister of Animal Production.
A first shipment of medicine and equipment needed to treat animals is expected to arrive in Port-au-Prince from the Dominican Republic this week, according to ARCH officials.
Most members of the ARCH team returned to Santo Domingo by Tuesday, in order to assemble supplies for the next emergency relief exercise. However, the coalition team also planned to continue its assessment in the areas beyond Port-au-Prince, implementing immediate veterinary aid to animals in cooperation with the Haitian government.
There has been no call for veterinary volunteers to help with the Haitian relief effort, nor for specific veterinary medical supplies, according to Dr. Heather Case, AVMA director of scientific activities and coordinator for emergency preparedness and response. The AVMA stands ready to organize the collection of specific veterinary supplies from U.S. donors, if necessary, Case said.
For ongoing updates, please follow the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT) on Twitter at @AVMAVMAT.
The AVMA began working with ARCH immediately after the coalition's formation in response to the Jan. 12 earthquake. ARCH is jointly led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
AVMA disaster response efforts are led by the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT). The VMAT teams are funded through the generous support of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Your donation to the AVMF will help the Foundation make emergency care available to all animals in times of crisis.
About ARCH Coalition
The Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) is jointly led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in partnership with over a dozen of the world's leading animal protection organizations.
Animal welfare organizations formed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) so that we could work together to bring aid to as many animals, and in as short a time, as possible. At present, ARCH partners include: International Fund for Animal Welfare, World Society for the Protection of Animals, American Humane Association, Best Friends Animal Society, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (UK), In Defense of Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, United Animal Nations, Kinship Circle, One Voice, Swiss Animal Protection and Petfinder.com Foundation. ARCH members urge other animal welfare groups to join in the group efforts.