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FOUR PAWS provides pet supplies, disaster experts to Puerto Rico

Animal welfare organisation delivers 4,000 pounds of pet food

Sydney, 26.10.2017 –  The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS delivered 4,000 pounds of dry dog and cat food this week to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

An international team of the FOUR PAWS’ Disaster Relief Unit distributed the food and performed basic veterinary exams during their current mission in Puerto Rico. Over 580 animals will receive food from FOUR PAWS and the supplies will last about two weeks.

The goal of the week-long mission is to help stray animals and owned pets in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria, that strucked the island as a powerful Category 4 storm on 20 September 2017. FOUR PAWS is working to help owners and local community members who currently do not have the ability or resources to acquire enough food for the local animals to survive.

“FOUR PAWS believes animal welfare is community welfare, meaning that if pets are taken care of and have food and water, people can focus on their own wellbeing,” said Dr. Jackson Zee, Director of FOUR PAWS’ Disaster Relief Unit.

FOUR PAWS’ Disaster Relief Unit is helping to provide critical supplies in remote areas that have been harder to reach in the aftermath of the storm, such as Aguadilla, Rincon, Ponce and Villalba.

Meanwhile, the FOUR PAWS team has been briefed on the ground about a very recent development of animal owners increasingly abandoning their animals as they flee the island.

“The abandonment of animals, dropped off at local shelters or roaming the streets, is becoming more and more serious,” said Dr. Jackson Zee.

“We were happy to learn that shelters are accepting pets, which is a policy strongly supported by FOUR PAWS, however with communications and electricity still down on many parts of the island, we’ve seen that it’s very difficult for people and pets to return to their homes, thus relying on government aide for longer periods of time”

FOUR PAWS has also received information of the growing number of reports of leptospirosis in Puerto Rico, a rodent-born bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals and commonly occurs post-flooding. Zee cautioned animal owners to wash their hands and boil their water to make sure their food and water is clean.

Zee is a trained veterinarian experienced in disaster relief efforts in Iraq, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Japan, Thailand, India, Caribbean, Australia, and the US. Born in New York, he earned his veterinary degree in Australia and returned to New York to complete his doctorate in behavioral ecology. He brings more than 20 years of experience in hands-on work with animals and building resilience with people and communities for their animals.

Zee and his team will be in Puerto Rico until Thursday, Oct. 26.