Cat Leo survived 18 days under the rubble

Emergency relief for animals in Türkiye and Syria

FOUR PAWS providing food and veterinary care for animals affected by the recent earthquakes

3.3.2023

3 March 2023 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has dispatched an emergency relief team to help affected animals in the regions of Southern Türkiye and Northern Syria that have been severely damaged by multiple earthquakes in early February.

The team arrived on 28 February and during their stay will deliver animal food to affected areas in Türkiye and Syria directly and via partners. In Türkiye the team will provide first aid and veterinary care to animals in need and support local communities with rescue efforts. FOUR PAWS will work together with local partners and authorities in the Kahramanmaras region and its most affected neighbouring provinces, including Kilis, Adiyaman and Elbistan.

One of the most severe natural catastrophes in recent history, the 7.8 and 6.4 magnitude earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria have claimed over 50,000 lives and left millions in the region homeless and displaced. With its work on the ground, FOUR PAWS aims to help provide relief for humans and animals by helping local farm owners who are in need of medical care and food for their animals. The team led by FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who has decades of experience working in disaster and conflict zones all over the world, is also ready to provide help for companion animals and zoo animals if needed.

During the first days on-site, the FOUR PAWS team met with the local partners in Kilis, got an overview of the ongoing situation and started to distribute food. The team helped with treatments of injured cats and dogs in a veterinary clinic and visited a shelter that houses 140 dogs rescued from the rubble and sent 15 tons of animal food and 10 tons of farmed animal feed  to Adana.

Timeline of emergency relief efforts in Türkiye and Syria 

“The suffering is immense, and we are grateful for the humanitarian aid that is already in place. By helping on-site and taking care of injured and starving companion animals and farm animals, we hope to relieve people of at least one concern they are dealing with during such challenging and sad times. We trust in the experience of our local partners, who have been working tirelessly to provide relief since this tragedy first happened and will contribute by adding our expertise."

Dr Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS veterinarian

Surviving 18 days under the rubble

It is a miracle, but cat Leo and his owner were saved after being trapped for 18 days. Leo is now in a small clinic in Gaziantep, while his owner is in hospital. While treating cat Leo's injuries, Dr Khalil called his owner via video chat so she could see Leo again.

 "It was so heartwarming to see Leo's reaction to her voice, his eyes began to sparkle with life again at hearing her voice," says Dr Khalil.

survivor cat Leo with Dr. Amir

Thanks to the tireless efforts of our partners, around 1,000 animals have been rescued to date, from dogs and cats to cows and birds in Türkiye. Many have been reunited with their owners, following days of distress. 

“Many of the animals have suffered a heartbreaking fate and need treatment urgently. Some stories are truly unique, including a cat that survived under the rubble for 18 days, and a service dog who was injured during the rescue searches. We will do everything we can to help them, and as many other animals in need as possible,” says Dr Khalil.

Dr. Amir with injured service dog

Thanks to the tireless efforts of our partners, around 1,000 animals have been rescued to date, from dogs and cats to cows and birds in Türkiye. Many have been reunited with their owners, following days of distress. 

“Many of the animals have suffered a heartbreaking fate and need treatment urgently. Some stories are truly unique, including a cat that survived under the rubble for 18 days, and a service dog who was injured during the rescue searches. We will do everything we can to help them, and as many other animals in need as possible,” says Dr Khalil.

To support where it is most needed, FOUR PAWS will work together with local animal welfare and humanitarian organisations in Türkiye and Syria, as well as with relevant authorities, stakeholders, and the veterinary medicine faculty of Uludag.

In coordination with the local partners, the FOUR PAWS team is supervising distribution of animal food to local stray animals and pet owners, and aiding with the care and transport of animals to local shelters and veterinary clinics. After providing initial emergency relief, the FOUR PAWS team will evaluate where continued help is needed most urgently for animals in the region during the ongoing recovery efforts.

National Director of FOUR PAWS Australia, Rebecca Linigen said the response from Australians, who know only too well the devastating impacts of such disasters, has been heartening.

“Australians are no stranger to disasters, in recent floods and bushfires we have witnessed the devastating impact on animals and humans, and the generosity of people around the world who supported us in our relief and recovery. As heartbreaking as these times of crisis are, we also see the best qualities of people from the site itself or from afar, who step in to help with donations, who climb into the debris and pulled scared animals from the rubble, and who reunite lost animals with their owners.”

Rebecca Linigen, National Director of FOUR PAWS Australia

Expertise in regions affected by disaster and conflict zones

FOUR PAWS has been active in areas affected by disasters for almost ten years, operating in regions that have been hit by natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes or droughts. Moreover, FOUR PAWS has over a decade of experience providing emergency medical care and animal rescues in conflict zones all over the world, including Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq.

Most recently, FOUR PAWS helped refugees from Ukraine and their pets both at the border when the war began, as well as by delivering food to zoos in the most affected areas and continuing its Stray Animal Care project within the country.

Cats outside a destroyed house

Help injured and displaced animals in earthquakes

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Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

elise.burgess@four-paws.org

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 
SYDNEY NSW 2001

Main Phone: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au

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