16 February 2020 – The violent explosion at Beirut's port on 4 August 2020 caused devastation, left thousands injured and killed hundreds. As a consequence, many pets lost their homes, and strays their food sources. Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has now launched a rescue mission to relieve the overcrowded animal shelters and feed the animals affected by the explosion in the Lebanese capital. In addition to medicines and essentials, such as crates and beds, FOUR PAWS and local volunteers are distributing a total of 10 tonnes of food to shelters and strays in need, which will help around 2,000 dogs and cats for another month.
Distributing the food, medicines, and other essentials in the midst of a global pandemic poses a logistical challenge for the FOUR PAWS team: curfews, strict safety protocols and high COVID-19 case numbers have to be taken into account.
“The unstable political and economic situation in Lebanon combined with the COVID-19 pandemic complicates our work enormously, yet we urgently need to provide quick help to the suffering animals. The shelters have had to take in more and more dogs and cats in recent months and have reached the end of their capacities. In this critical phase, it is important to ensure the proper care of the animals. We hope that the situation will ease soon."
says Dr Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS veterinarian and leader of the rescue mission.
Expertise in crisis and conflict zones
Shortly after the explosion last August, FOUR PAWS helped with the rescue and medical care of injured animals. The aim was to reunite as many pets as possible with their owners. If this was not possible, the animals were taken to animal shelters and put up for adoption. Lebanon is by no means new ground for FOUR PAWS. In 2019, FOUR PAWS, together with Animals Lebanon, rescued wild animals kept in two zoos in the south of the country from starvation. FOUR PAWS has also worked in countries such as Libya and Egypt in the past. In 2016 and 2019, the FOUR PAWS team evacuated two zoos in the Gaza Strip. In 2017, FOUR PAWS rescued 13 wild animals from an amusement park near Aleppo in Syria and the last two surviving bears and lions from a zoo in Mosul in Iraq.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.za