Hundreds of animals became homeless when their owners had to flee the Cumbre Viejo volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma.
The animal welfare organization Benawara Plant and Animal Protection Society made a school into an animal shelter and looked for foster homes for the dogs, cats and chickens that were abandoned.
“We have rescued around 140 dogs, maybe more, 60 to 70 cats, goats, sheep, parrots, birds,” Esau Fumero, dog trainer and sub-director with the organization, told Reuters.
The Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on September 19 and has destroyed more than 800 buildings and forced the evacuation of about 6,000 people from their homes on the island.
La Palma, with a population of about 83,000, is one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic.
Some animals at the shelter come from families who evacuated but could not take their pets to their temporary accommodation, while others are dropped off by police and rescuers.
“There are people that have lost everything and have managed to take their animals but have no where to keep them because most are at hotels or at the barracks or in public spaces where they aren’t allowed to keep animals,” Fumero said.
“So we keep them here [at the shelter] and then find them temporary homes,” he added.
With the eruption showing no sign of stopping, caring for the pets is a long-term issue, Fumero explained.
Maria Hernandez lost her home to the lava. After finding a home for her three dogs, she was forced to take the youngest, a seven-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, to the animal shelter when she began fighting with the other two.
“We visit her after work every day and in the morning before work. We visit every moment we can to be with her. It’s sad because we don’t know how long this will last, and she’s part of the family,” the 55-year-old Maria said.
Fighting back tears, she said how the situation left her feeling overwhelmed and frustrated: “I don’t wish this on anyone. Seriously, what is happening here is so big for all of us, for us, for many people.”
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