OTTAWA, ON, February 10, 2023 - Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Canada (VWB/VSF) is responding to the magnitude 7.8 earthquakes that have rocked Turkey (officially renamed Türkiye) and Syria by partnering with an on-the-ground organization in Türkiye, HAYTAP, that is leading local search and rescue efforts, along with providing emergency veterinary care, food, temporary shelter, transport, and warmth in the below freezing temperatures. So far, these quakes have killed thousands, and left thousands more displaced without access to basic necessities and infrastructure. The WHO warns the death toll from these earthquakes could rise as much as eight-fold since they struck on February 6, 2023.
“This is a devastating situation,” said Charmaine Brett, executive director at VWB/VSF. “Not only have thousands of people lost their lives and loved ones—they’ve also lost their homes and access to food, water, and heat, which is incredibly important during these freezing winter months,” said Brett. “Many families have also lost their beloved animals—dogs, cats, and more, that have been buried in the rubble or badly injured. Sadly, some animals lost their owners in the earthquakes, which means they’re now homeless and without any care. VWB/VSF’s mandate is to be there, however we can be, to support animals and communities in need. We will not abandon animals and their families in Türkiye that desperately need our help.”
James Florence, emergency support advisor at VWB/VSF, will be joining VWB/VSF’s on-the-ground partner in Türkiye to provide support and resources, along with helping to develop a response plan. So far, about 150 animals, including dogs and cats, have been rescued and received veterinarian care. At present, there is an urgent need to locate animals, provide them with health assessments, food and shelter, and reunite them with their families, when possible. VWB/VSF will be supporting transports to animal shelters and adoption centres, to ensure as many animals as possible can be adopted and rehomed.
In the coming days and weeks, as more animals are found, the need for food, shelter, and veterinary care is expected to grow.
Both Charmaine Brett and James Florence are available for interviews.
About Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Canada
Using a One Health approach, Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB/VSF) works for, and with, communities in need to foster the health of animals, people and the environments that sustain us. VWB works in Africa and Asia to improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged rural populations through veterinary and agricultural services, sustainable animal production, training, value chain development and sustainable natural resource management. Additionally, we support remote Northern Canadian communities to improve animal health through temporary spay and neuter clinics, reduce the spread of rabies, and work to create the conditions for long-term, community-led sustainable animal health services. VWB/VSF also partners with local organizations to provide emergency relief to animals and communities during catastrophic events, including extreme weather events, natural disasters, and conflict. Currently, we are funding emergency response programs in Ukraine, Pakistan, and South Sudan, along with Türkiye.
Learn more at vetswithoutborders.ca