Volunteers rescue animals after Indonesia volcano eruption

A scared white cat looks into the camera surrounded by rumble
A cat outside a damaged house at an area affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru volcano, Indonesia, December 8, 2021, photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

Volunteers are looking for dogs, cats, cows and other animals who might have survived the eruption of Mount Semeru in Indonesia earlier this month.

Authorities said the disaster killed 48 people, 767 cows, 648 sheep and thousands of chickens. Rescuers are still searching for survivors in the mud and rubble.

So far, a team of fifteen volunteers of the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) have rescued and treated 76 cows and around twenty goats and sheep.

“We only evacuated animals who have owners. For strays, if they are injured, we treat them on the spot,” Satria Wardhana from COP told news agency AFP in Curah Kobokan, the village closest to the volcano. “We also feed animals who survived, like chickens, dogs and cats,” she added.

Animals are usually abandoned because the main target of a rescue is humans

Dian Tresno Wikant, veterinarian

Surviving animals have injuries such as burns on their ears and feet, said COP’s veterinarian Dian Tresno Wikanti. “Their ears are hairless as they burn easily. Many other animals also suffer from coughing,” Wikanti said. One goat had a miscarriage.

She added that some of the animals are stressed out and the animals are dehydrated “because it’s hot here.” The vet also goes door-to-door to check the condition of injured animals in some of Lumajang’s villages.

In Sumber Mujur, Wikanti treated a cat who was trapped under rubble for four days, her paws were severely burnt by lava. The cat’s owner, Ryan, said he was happy that his pet could get speedy medical treatment. “I ran to save myself, and I didn’t have time to take the cat,” he said.

In the same village, volunteers treated two evacuated cows, applying burn ointment and injecting vitamins.

For the COP team, saving the lives of animals is a part of being human. “Animals are usually abandoned because the main target of a rescue is humans. That’s why we are rescuing those who are forgotten,” Wikanti said.

Rescuing animals can also help lessen survivors’ trauma, Wardhana added. “Psychologically, they [human survivors] will be more at ease because… their animals also survived.”

The Animal Reader is a small independent news platform with daily posts about issues affecting animals.

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