Groups assist Haiti with earthquake recovery

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Dr. Murillo examines a stray dog
Dr. Juan Carlos Murillo of the World Society for the Protection of Animals examines a stray dog in Port au Prince, Haiti, that survived the earthquake.

Animal and public health are among the concerns in Haiti after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Outside assistance has been coming from U.S. and international groups with expertise in animal welfare, veterinary medicine, agricultural development, and disaster response.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare and World Society for the Protection of Animals created the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti to help respond to animal issues following the earthquake. The AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation are members of the coalition, with the AVMF providing a monetary donation.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2007, Haiti had nearly 6 million poultry and more than 5 million livestock—the latter of which were mostly goats, cattle, and pigs. Haiti also has a large population of semi-feral dogs, according to ARCH.

As of Jan. 25, ARCH had 20 people on the ground in Haiti. The team was ready to provide assistance ranging from veterinary care for animals with injuries to vaccinations and other efforts to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis. At press time, a mobile clinic was en route to increase the team's capacity.

Dr. Heather Case, AVMA coordinator for emergency preparedness and response, said the AVMA stood by to organize collection of veterinary supplies from U.S. donors, if necessary. Dr. Case said, "This is going to be an ongoing recovery process, months in the making."

Before the earthquake, the Christian Veterinary Mission and Heifer International were among the groups with longstanding development programs in Haiti relevant to animal health and agriculture.

The Christian Veterinary Mission has worked with Haitians since the early 1980s, providing programs such as training in animal health for villagers. The mission's three long-term fieldworkers in Haiti survived the earthquake, and the mission has established a fund for them to use in their response efforts.

Heifer International has been in Haiti for a decade. The group has 16 agricultural development projects under way, from giving gifts of livestock to training in aquaculture, involving thousands of families and several farmer associations. Heifer is raising money for a recovery and rebuilding effort in response to the earthquake.

The IFAW, WSPA, AVMF, Christian Veterinary Mission, and Heifer International are accepting monetary donations through their Web sites:,,,, and

The U.S. government also sent veterinary personnel to Haiti to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.

The Department of Health and Human Services activated the National Disaster Medical System and U.S. Public Health Service, which in turn deployed veterinarians as part of interdisciplinary response teams.

The U.S. Army deployed the 43rd Medical Detachment (Veterinary Services) to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response. The mission of the detachment includes inspecting humanitarian rations, evaluating local sources of food and water for safety, conducting programs in veterinary preventive medicine, and providing medical care for working dogs.