Our three-day rapid assessment of Western Visayas is now complete. We have been helping animals we’ve come across all through Antique, Kalibo and Roxas provinces.
We’ve been providing vitamins, mineral supplement solutions to cows, chickens and dogs as well as anti-worm drugs so that these survivors do not now succumb to chronic malnutrition and parasites.
Conversations are underway with local veterinarian associations and faculties to train, equip and deploy them into the worst stricken areas in teams of vets led by World Animal Protection.
We are also surveying animal health conditions in the area, to determine the food and nutrition needs hundreds of thousands of surviving poultry and pigs to get them through the worst period following the disaster.
Yesterday, we came across a farm in the steep hills near Kalibo city that was in a poor state. It was strewn with debris, fallen trees, and there was a feeling of despair in the air.
Two thousand chickens were slowly dying in their cages under the scorching sun, despite the best efforts of their owner, Jack Major. Mr. Major told us he lost thousands of chickens when Typhoon Haiyan hit and he was still losing an additional 200 each day since.
Mr. Major told us he felt helpless as he watched his chickens die in the hundreds every day. He’d scraped together the only money he had to hire a few men to construct a new building and roof in which to house them. Unfortunately and despite everyone’s attempts at working as fast as they could, time was running out.
Mr. Major explained he had to keep his chickens separated, with the more productive animals running free range in a shaded area and the remaining birds who were either the wrong age or level of production left in near direct sunlight. He’d made efforts at protecting them by laying tree leaves over the top of their cages, but it just wasn’t enough. When we met him, Mr. Major told us he’d already given up.
Our team immediately realised that dehydration would kill all of the birds who’d miraculously managed to survive Haiyan. As the situation was urgent, we immediately came up with a plan to move them out of the cages and direct sun into the more humane and comfortable are occupied by the more productive bids. Dr. Murillo devised a simple but effective solution of marking the birds back feathers with violet dye so that they could mix freely with the rest of the flock and shelter from the punishing sun.
We then provided water and designated a larger area in which they could move freely, giving them water and shade immediately means they won’t be as vulnerable to overheating, dehydration and have a fighting chance.
A very moved and thankful Mr. Major began moving all of his birds to safety and for the first time since the disaster felt hopeful as he realised the help he needed had finally arrived. Look at the birds in this video our team lead captured, and see the birds spring back to life and run to the new water source. Together, we saved them from a near certain death.
On another farm, the owners greeted us among destroyed buildings and trees, relating that their farm had been devastated and they had no means to feed their animals. The team provided emergency food for pets and birds, which had not eaten in two weeks.
Filipinos devotion to their animals, whether livestock or pets is very moving. Despite the near total destruction of their homes, people are sharing what little they have to keep their animals alive.
The relief they express when we arrive and offer to help their animals reminds me why we must assist them in the worst times. They’ve been hanging on as best they can and trying their best to keep their animals alive and healthy too.
Thanks to you, we’re able to keep families intact and protect the only source of income the famers have left after Haiyan took everything away in the space of a few hours.
Manuela and Mickey, Luisa and Boogey in Antique Province, Western Visayas. November 24, 2013 (Troncophotovideo).
I’ll have an update on our Cebu-based team up for you in the next couple of days.