Animals in Turkey and Syria earthquake: Liveblog

Animals in Turkey and Syria earthquake
A skinny sick dog walks near rubble from a building, Kirikhan, Hatay province, Turkey, February 7, 2023, credit: Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw

Rescuers in Syria and Turkey continue working to rescue humans and animals trapped under collapsed buildings after a major earthquake hit both countries on Monday.

The earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria: apartment buildings collapsed, and many people and animals are still stuck under the ruins. Rescue operations are challenging because the areas that are hit are difficult to reach and the cold weather conditions in the regions.

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UK search dog Colin injured during rescue operation
A search and rescue dog called Colin from the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) got hurt while working in Hatay in Turkey.

“Unfortunately, our rescue dog Colin has picked up a small injury and is being treated. We’re hoping he will be back in action tomorrow,” LFRS said on Thursday, adding that he’s doing better after a few stitches on his paw.

Dog, cat and bird rescue after Turkey earthquake (VIDEO)

Rescue workers saved a small dog named Pamuk and a cat named Cilek (Strawberry). Pamuk was rescued from the rubble in Iskenderun and was being looked after by neighbours.

Cilek was rescued from a collapsed building in Hatay and was with its owner, Kerem Cetin, who was also rescued. Kerem wanted his cat to be saved before him.

Stray animals need help
In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, animal welfare organizations are joining forces to help stray dogs and cats in the affected areas. The organizations are working hard to transfer food and supplies to areas where animals need assistance.

However, the task ahead is enormous, as the number of animals in need of help is overwhelming. In addition to surviving the earthquake, stray animals are now facing the harsh reality of cold temperatures with no access to food and water.

The animal welfare groups are calling for support from the public to help them continue their efforts; donations of food and other supplies are greatly needed.

Animals injured and in shock in Syria
Many animals are injured and in shock “they don’t even eat”, animal welfare organization Ernesto’s sanctuary for Cats in Syria said on Wednesday after returning from a rescue operation in Aleppo.

Rescue workers struggle to reach some of the worst-hit areas, hindered by destroyed roads, poor weather and a lack of heavy equipment. Some locations are completely without fuel and electricity. On Thursday, members of Ernesto’s sanctuary are going back with digging tools to save as many animals as possible.

Not enough people to help animals
The earthquake has affected around ten big cities, covering a big area. “We only have power to go to just one area because of having limited amount of trained people and resources,” Turkish animal rights federation Haytap said. They have set up a field hospital for animals in Antakya, the capital of the Turkish province Hatay: “Animals with broken bones have started to come to our hospital tent.”

“Unfortunately, the weather conditions are really bad, and there is a threat of being stuck on the roads,” Haytap said, currently with around 15-20 volunteers in the area. “But because of limited government help for rescuing trapped people under the buildings, people are even asking help from us to rescue them. We are trying to do our best to help both sides (animals and humans).”

They are also receiving calls from people trying to rescue their trapped animals from other provinces hit by the earthquake.

Disabled cats at shelter in Hatay
Haydar Ozkan, part of HayKonfed Animal Rights Federation, is sharing a video of an animal shelter with 300 disabled cats in Hatay. The animals need food, water and medical care. “The amount of food we have is not enough for all our routes. We will have to go back to Adana and buy extra food,” Ozkan said.

Rescue mission for animals in Syria
Animal welfare organization Ernesto’s sanctuary for Cats in Syria got clearance to enter the area most hit by the earthquake. “Tomorrow, a rescue mission for the four paws victims of the earthquake. Stay tuned because we have been allowed to enter and rescue the animals!” the organization said.


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Dog and cat food to Turkey
“So many people and animals are dead, injured and still trapped… We are hopelessly trying to find ways to help the dogs and the cats in need,” the Swiss animal welfare organization Pets in Turkey said on social media.

Together with Raise Your Paw, the organization sent 450 kilograms of dry dog, 225 kilograms of dry cat food and eight boxes of wet food to Turkey.

“We are aware that it is not enough. The magnitude of the disaster is beyond imagination. In the upcoming days, we are planning to do more, to rescue animals from the region as well; however at this moment, they are still trying to rescue people from the collapsed buildings, and the heavy winter conditions are a huge barrier,” the organization said.

The organization has been active in Turley for a while: their mission “is to help all breeds of cats and dogs in Turkey that are regularly being abandoned in large numbers.”

Missing pets
People are sharing pictures of their cats and dogs who are missing after the earthquake. “My dear son Lycia has been missing since the day of the earthquake. We have looked at the house many times but could not find him. We think he may have escaped from the house during the chaos. Can you please share, he can’t live on the street,” was shared via a post on Twitter.

EU sends 70 rescue dogs to Turkey
The European Union is sending 70 rescue dogs and 1150 rescue workers to Turkey, the EU commissioner for crisis management said Tuesday.

A search and rescue dog and a rescuer of International Search and Rescue (ISAR) Germany arrive at Gaziantep Airport in Turkey, February 7, 2023, credit: Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw

South Korean rescue dogs leave for Turkey
South Korean rescue workers and search dogs get ready to leave for Turkey on Tuesday to help find earthquake victims.

South Korean rescue workers and search dogs prepare to leave for Turkey for a rescue operation at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, February 7, 2023, credit: Yonhap via Reuters

Golden retriever found by himself
“We found a golden retriever in Adana. We have taken him under our protection. The owner can reach us,” animal welfare organization Meyako rescue said on Tuesday.

Rescue dogs on their way to Turkey
Members of the Greek Disaster Response Special Unit are leaving with their dogs for Turkey to help in search and rescue operations. Romania, Germany, India and other countries are also sending search and rescue dogs.

Members of the Disaster Response Special Unit with their dogs wait to board the Hellenic Air Force C-130 to fly to Turkey to help in the aftermath of the earthquake, the military airport of Elefsina, Greece, February 6, 2023, credit: Reuters/Louiza Vradi

Turkish rescue dogs
Animal shelter Meyako Rescue (Melekler Yaşam Köyü Derneği) shared a post of rescue dogs with the rescuers ready for the mission in the earthquake-hit areas. “Dogs who were told to “put him to sleep” are on their way to save people with search and rescue teams,” Meyako rescue said.

Food and power banks for shelters
Turkish animal welfare organization Paw Guards (Pati Koruyucuları Derneği) sent seven teams with food and power banks to help the animal shelters and stray animals in affected areas. Paw Guards posted a reminder that all lives have value and the animals should not be left homeless: “They also have a life as precious as ours.”

Homes needed for animals
People with animals who lost their homes need a place to stay in affected areas. “We know that our friends who have animals in disaster areas… are having a hard time finding shelter,” Turkish animal rights federation HAYTAP said.

Cat sanctuary in Aleppo
“We are very grateful that our animals at the shelter made it alive despite the trauma they went through,” CatConnect, which helps stray cats in Syria said on Facebook. “However, our volunteers are emotionally shaken and physically affected.”

HAYTAP to rescue humans and animals
“We’re arriving upon the scene. We are going to try to reach both people and animals as much as we can,” the Turkish animal rights federation HAYTAP said. The organization is calling for more volunteers to help. There is also a need for sheltering animals who are left without a home.

Second earthquake
Only ten hours after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in the morning, a second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit Tukey and Syria. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he could not predict how much the death toll would rise, adding that 45 countries had offered to help with the search and rescue efforts.

Cat sanctuary in Syria safe
Ernesto’s sanctuary for cats in Syria, where more than 1000 cats get shelter, food and medical care, said that their team and animals are physically safe but mentally devastated. 

Animal rescue teams
Journalist Nahayat Tizhoosh said, “Turkey’s VP has indicated that the Ministry of Forestry has announced the formation of a large team to save animals caught up in the earthquake.”

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