A guest piece by FOUR PAWS Director of the Disaster Relief Unit.
During the past weeks, I found myself struggling to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy unfolding in Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria. The immense destruction and the profound loss of life are incomprehensible.
Over a third of buildings have collapsed and another third severely damaged in the Turkish Hatay province. Seventeen days have passed since the tragic night that changed everything.
Our partner organisation Haytap has been working day and night since then.
Only a day after the disaster, they set up an animal hospital. Since then, they have rescued over 1,000 animals in Hatay alone, risking their safety while entering dangerously collapsed buildings.
Miracles still happen
A few days ago, they entered a severely damaged building because someone suspected his two cats were inside. Cautiously they went up the half-ruined staircase, equipped with hard hats and flashlights.
A desperate meow echoed through the staircase, leading them to the wrecked apartment the owner once called home.
They searched everywhere, but after being trapped for almost two weeks, the traumatised cats were scared and hid in silence. Fortunately, the rescue team knew exactly what to do. They knew that there was only one person who could provide assurance to them: Their owner.
Through the loudspeaker on the phone, he called his cats.
It didn’t take long until the cats started to respond to his voice with hopeful meows. The team managed to retrieve them from the rubble and safely reunite them with their owner, who was moved to tears.
It’s these kinds of miracles that keep the Haytap team going. But it is a race against time, and every minute counts. The hope of retrieving animals alive from the rubble diminishes with every day. But at this moment injured, traumatised and starving animals roam the ruined streets, struggling for survival as well.
A long road ahead
Together with our partners, FOUR PAWS will continue to provide emergency help for animals injured and displaced by the earthquakes. One thing is clear: Help is needed everywhere and the road to rebuilding and healing is long. Our work plays an important role in this process, not only through life-saving measure like emergency feeding and medical treatment, but also by reuniting lost pets with their families – a huge comfort to people now more than ever.
Our thoughts are with everyone in the region – humans and animals alike.