AVMF donates to Turkey, Syria to aid earthquake relief

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and Merck Animal Health announced on April 5 that they are providing $100,000 in funding to help communities in Turkey and Syria recover from the earthquakes that hit in February.

The AVMF, the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and Merck Animal Health, a research-driven company that manufactures and markets veterinary medicines and services that advance animal healthcare, will each contribute $50,000 to relief efforts.

A veterinary professional in a makeshift tent performs an examination on a cat. (Photos courtesy of the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association)

More than 100 earthquakes have occurred in the region since February 3, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, including the major magnitude 7.5 and 7.8 quakes on February 6. Since then, there have been more than 175 aftershocks of magnitude 4 and greater. Turkey and Syria’s human death toll is currently reported at more than 50,000, and the impact to animals has been incalculable.

Funds from the AVMF/Merck will go toward the work of the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Other charities may be added as the situation evolves.

The AVMA is in contact with the IFAW which is already working with organizations on the ground in both Turkey and Syria.

Dr. Murat Arslan, president of the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association, indicated that 90% of the veterinary clinics in the region were destroyed.

“We lost many of our colleagues and their families,” he said. “We will make a great effort to reconstruct the clinics here.”

The Turkish Veterinary Medical Association has reported to the World Veterinary Association that 264 of their members affected by this disaster have requested aid from the association thus far. Initial assessments indicate that 150 veterinarians in the regions impacted have lost their clinics, and 200 veterinarians have lost their homes.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Turkish representatives have indicated that pets are being brought by plane to Istanbul, where they have been receiving care from veterinarians. Veterinary facilities in the affected areas have been destroyed, and both veterinarians and veterinary students have been killed.

Two emergency responders comfort a cow trapped under the rubble.

“The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have caused widespread devastation,” said Dr. José Arce, chair of the AVMF and immediate past president of the AVMA. “During this critical time, we encourage anyone who can give to please donate to relief efforts for animals and their owners.”

The AVMF is encouraging AVMA members and the public to join in supporting relief efforts in Turkey and Syria. Contributions will help provide food, veterinary care, and disaster relief, as well as emergency support for veterinarians providing care. To donate, visit the AVMF website.