The recent eruption of the Puyehue volcano, located 1,000 km south of the Chilean capital, Santiago, has created a need for WSPA to assist local WSPA partners in assessing the potential risk to animals from volcanic ash. High levels of ash in the air can cause respiratory and other health problems (e.g. skin and eye irritations) for many species. Furthermore, large amounts of ash can cause roofs to collapse.
In Chile, around 4,000 people have been evacuated so far from the vicinity of the volcano. Although the volcano's activity has diminished, officials have ordered the majority of residents to stay in shelters and with family and friends due to the threat of flash floods and landslides. The ash is also affecting neighboring regions in Argentina which have declared a state of health and agricultural emergency.
A team from the WSPA South America office is currently on its way to assess the animal need in the regions most affected by the volcanic ash, around the town of Osorno, together with Chilean animal group ProAnimal and Argentinian animal groups FABA and Cullunche.
The eruptions have occurred in the same region where a WSPA Disaster Management team assisted ProAnimal following the devastating earthquake in February last year. Food and veterinary care was provided at that time to around 6,000 animals.
In Colombia, where severe flooding and landslides have required WSPA assistance on several occasions in the last months, WSPA’s announced intervention is now underway, with an ongoing delivery of aid by the vet brigades. Additionally, WSPA is to fund the rebuilding of kennels at an animal shelter housing 300 dogs which was partially destroyed in recent floods. The shelter belongs to local group Caridad Animal, and kennels will now be rebuilt on a ground less prone to potential flooding. Work will begin on 20th June.
Meanwhile, Dr Damian Woodberry, who is leading WSPA’s response in Japan, will be travelling to the affected prefectures this week checking on the progress of the shelters that WSPA is providing for companion animals.