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January 11, 2013

Haiti and Animal Welfare

Before Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the United States, they did the same to Haiti, setting back the hapless nation in dramatic ways after the devastation delivered by the earthquake of January 2010.

Haiti-vets-horse270x240
Kathy Milani/HSUS
A Haitian veterinarian gets trained on equine
dentistry by HSI vet Dr. Javier Donatelli

Humane Society International responded to the earthquake with boots on the ground, and pledged to our donors and supporters that HSI would stay there for the long-term to help develop an animal welfare capacity in that country for the first time ever. Now three years later, we’re still there, helping Haiti with natural disasters and the endemic challenges that have hobbled the nation and its animals and people for so long.

In a situation where the human condition is so desperate –  with an unemployment rate of nearly 50 percent –  it would be difficult for any nation to confront, in a meaningful way, animal welfare and veterinary care, even though many public health matters are so obviously linked to animal care and well-being. We’re working to change that, and here’s a short report on what we did in 2012 (our third year there) to help animals and people in the country.


  • Provided direct medical care and treatment to more than 6,600 animals throughout Haiti while increasing the training and skills of local Haitian veterinarians
  • Provided 13 field clinics; including several in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy
  • Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Haitian government and Heifer International to provide veterinary care and begin a pilot project on wound management for working equines
  • Conducted the first ever survey with the Haitian government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measuring veterinarian capacity in Haiti
  • Hosted the One Health Conference, which brought together 85 attendees including the Haitian Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture
  • Partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture for its annual rabies campaign (the first since the earthquake), which provided half a million rabies vaccinations to street dogs and companion animals

HSI is the only international animal welfare group still on the ground in Haiti today, three years after the earthquake. We’re doing hands-on work, but we cannot be there forever, so we’re training and supporting Haitian veterinarians and helping to set up the first ever Haitian non-government organization for animals. The goal is to make animal welfare part of the services and culture of Haiti. The premise of our work is built on the “one health model”: healthy animals and healthy humans and a healthy environment make a healthier Haiti. To support this and other disaster and post-disaster relief work, and to learn more about it, visit Humane Society International’s disaster fund page. To sign up as a street dog defender, and help other dogs like Isaac, visit HSI's street dog defender page.

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