La Soufrière volcano: Don’t forget to evacuate animals on Saint Vincent

Ash and smoke after La Soufriere volcano erupts on St. Vincent, photo: Reuters/Robertson S. Henry
Ash and smoke after La Soufriere volcano erupts on St. Vincent, photo: Reuters/Robertson S. Henry

“We’re getting many reports that people who have fled, have left their animals tied to protect their homes,” the animal welfare organization Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) said on social media.

VSPCA urges people not to leave their animals tied up; they will not stand a chance to survive the volcano eruption.

La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines erupted on Friday after decades of inactivity, forcing thousands of humans from surrounding villages to evacuate immediately.

“Do not leave animals behind if you are evacuating. If you must, untether them, open pens and shelters and do not leave them tied. They will not stand a chance if they are left tied,” Kiersten Anderson, president of VSPCA, said in a Facebook post. Try to leave enough food and water, she added.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged more than 16,000 people living in “red” danger zones to leave. They were evacuated to safer parts of the island and cruise ships.

“The VSPCA is not picking up animals in red and orange zones,” Anderson said. She advises people to report pets and stray animals last seen in the area.

“We are keeping a registry of animals that have unfortunately been left in these areas for the government, in hopes of reunification after these areas have been declared safe for re-entry,” Anderson said.

She stressed to remember that if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets or other animals.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not experienced volcanic activity since 1979. An eruption by La Soufrière in 1902 killed more than 1,000 people, it’s not known how many animals were killed. The name means “sulfur outlet” in French.

The eruption column on Friday was estimated to reach 10 km (6 miles) high, the seismic research center said. Local media also reported increased activity from Mount Pelée volcano on the island of Martinique, which lies to the north of St. Vincent.

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