People standing on the rubble of destroyed buildings in Antakya, southern Türkiye

Race against time: Animals in urgent need after massive earthquakes in Middle East

FOUR PAWS and partner NGOs deliver vital support to dogs, cats and farmed animals 


23 February 2023 – After two devastating earthquakes struck the region of Southern Türkiye and Northern Syria, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is providing urgent support for search and rescue, veterinary treatments, first aid and feeding, to three of the most affected provinces in Türkiye – Hatay, Osmaniye and Malatya, for urgent help of animals.

Our Turkish partner organisation, HayTap, has been working tirelessly since this disaster started, pulling animals out of debris and delivering first aid on-site in designated field tents for medical treatments. Around 1,000 animals have already been saved due to HayTap’s immediate response.

FOUR PAWS Australia’s Director, Rebecca Linigen, says that this is a crisis that requires urgent and ongoing support to help people and animals in the affected regions.

“In the wake of this disaster, it is crucial for the global community to rally together to help the victims of this devastating crisis, both animal and human.  The earthquakes have caused terrible initial impacts, and we now face a long road ahead, with food, shelter and urgent medical care being of paramount importance. In partnership with on-the-ground animal rescue groups, we are bringing urgent care to those who need it most.”

Director of FOUR PAWS Australia, Rebecca Linigen

FOUR PAWS Disaster Relief expert, Dr Jackson Zee, estimates a maximum of ten days within animals can still be rescued alive until the vital window closes forever.

FOUR PAWS has been active in areas affected by natural disasters for almost ten years now.

Dr Jackson Zee, who leads the FOUR PAWS Disaster Preparedness and Resilience program (DPRP) says: “I have witnessed a lot of natural disasters but these two major earthquakes from last week stand out in their impact on living creatures in the region. Our efforts have to be immediate and effective but also sensitively applied as the humanitarian crisis has not subsided.

“Our main goal now is to support our partners with everything we can deliver, logistics, financial aid, and expertise. A lot of animals, including dogs, cats, cows but also birds and sheep could already be re-united with their owners. Others, which tragically lost their owners, are brought to shelters in bigger cities such as Istanbul and Ankara. It is a race against time, and every minute counts.”

Rescuers saving animals in Turkey-Syria earthquakes

The devastating earthquakes tragically caused over 46,000 human casualties, had a devastating impact on all of society. The reconstruction works are estimated to take years, if not a decade.

Along with supporting HayTap’s search and rescue activities, FOUR PAWS will help provide funding for veterinary treatments and supplies, first aid, and feeding, as well as providing safe temporary homes for the animals in need until a long-term solution is found.

“The humanitarian crisis is immense with the death toll rising every day and locals mourning over their losses of family members and friends. Also companion animals such as dogs and cats as well as farm animals are suffering from injuries, malnutrition and stress. FOUR PAWS has been active in areas affected by natural disasters for almost ten years now and we will do our utmost to stand with our local partner organisations as those animals are dependent on our help.”

CEO of FOUR PAWS, Josef Pfabigan


FOUR PAWS has a long-track record of successfully helping animals that are in need due to disasters hit areas all around the world. With a designated team around Dr Jackson Zee, Disaster Preparedness and Resilience program (DPRP) operates in regions that have been hit by natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes or droughts.

Often these emergency missions are undertaken with local organisations. In India, FOUR PAWS has a close cooperation with Blue Cross of India (BCI) for almost ten years. Prior to the pandemic, Australia was hit by devastating bushfires in 2019/2020 that claimed over three billion animal lives in which FOUR PAWS helped to raise funds and supported local organisations in the aftermath.

Also in 2019 a transport vessel carrying over 14,000 sheep capsized off the coast of Romania. FOUR PAWS immediately stood ground to rescue the lives of at least 250 animals from drowning.

When the volcano Taal erupted on Luzon Island, Philippines, in 2020 sending ash clouds hundreds of meters into the air, forcing locals to leave their belongings behind, FOUR PAWS provided over 1,000 kg of food and medicine for local animals.

In 2018 Florida was hit by massive hurricane Florence that caused severe floodings with thousands of residents that had to flee their homes with many leaving their animals behind. DPRP assisted with the provision of animal food and supplies.

DPRP will keep on with its precious work in areas that were struck by natural disasters, making sure that no animal is left behind.

Cats in rubble after a disaster

Disaster Relief for animals

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Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

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.

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