dog, cats or horses rescued alongside disaster victims

dog, cats or horses rescued alongside disaster victims
dog, cats or horses rescued alongside disaster victims

Dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and horses are also among the victims of the historic floods in southern Brazil. In Porto Alegre, the capital of the stricken state, a field hospital for animals is running at full capacity.

Many animals spent days in water after torrential rains earlier this month caused rivers in Rio Grande do Sul, an important agricultural state, to overflow.

More than two million people were affected by these terrible floods which left more than 140 dead and some 800 injured, according to the latest report on Sunday from Civil Defense.

Dogs and cats, but also rabbits, chickens and pigs often arrive at the shelter, installed under tents, wrapped in towels.

Firefighters on boats in the flooded city of Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, on May 9, 2024 in Brazil / Anselmo CUNHA / AFP

The animals, including horses, sedated before being evacuated, are examined and photographed so that they can be recognized by their owners on the internet, once the photo is distributed. They then receive care and are fed.

Most come from Eldorado do Sul, a totally devastated town located on the other side of the Guaiba River which borders the regional capital.

According to Brazilian authorities, more than 10,000 animals have been rescued in the region.

“We have rapid tests. If they show symptoms of infectious diseases, we separate them to send them to clinics and hospitals”, explains to AFP Cintia Dias da Costa, a 48-year-old veterinarian, protected from the pouring rain from a raincoat.

Animal cause

The horses are treated by equine specialists and many are hosted by universities that offer their facilities to temporarily house them, says Fernando Gonzalez, another 51-year-old volunteer veterinarian.

Volunteers care for dogs at an animal shelter located in the parking lot of a shopping center in Porto Alegre, Brazil, May 11, 2024 / Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP

Beyond the human tragedy, the fate of the animals particularly affected Brazilians who mobilized on social networks to save a horse stuck on the roof of a submerged house, in Canoas, a suburb of Porto Alegre.

The equine was able to be saved after being put to sleep and evacuated on an inflatable boat. Named Caramelo by locals, his rescue quickly went viral on social media. “Caramelo has been saved!”, First Lady Rosangela da Silva, known as “Janja”, exulted on X.

In another video that quickly went viral, a man is seen sobbing in a boat as he finds his four dogs rescued from the waters.

“I want to contribute in some way and I prefer to work with these creatures, who are innocent and cannot help themselves,” explains Priscilla Correa, a 51-year-old volunteer, a toddler dog trembling on knees.

In the parking lot of a nearby shopping center, volunteers set up another animal shelter. It mainly accommodates dogs, around 200. Some play, while others lie on the ground visibly exhausted.

“Our feeling is that we are doing something to give visibility to the animal cause (…) We must understand that the lives of animals have value,” assures Fernanda Ellwanger, a 42-year-old volunteer.

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