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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews Around the Republic of Mexico | November 2007 

International Welfare Team Helping Animals Affected by Mexico Flooding
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A coalition of international animal welfare organizations, including Humane Society International, are responding to the needs of animals in the wake of massive floods that left approximately 80% of Tabasco, Mexico underwater.

Villahermosa, the capital of the state, had the greatest concentration of companion animals with approximately 40,000 owned animals and 20,000 strays, according to the Department of Health. The Tabasco region is home to approximately 1.8 million farm animals, 90% of which were not evacuated before the storm.

"Thanks to quick government response, the water level in Villahermosa has receded quickly, however; many areas are badly damaged and pet food and veterinary care is not easily accessible," said Jessica Higgins, program manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, HSI. "We are providing well needed food and medical attention to animals in both urban and rural areas. This is possible due to the help of local residents, who are already cleaning up and rebuilding, even restocking the shelves of stores that have barely dried out. Recovery is well on its way."

Teams are canvassing both urban and rural areas to determine and respond to animal needs. Each field team includes veterinarians and veterinary students from Mexico and the U.S., as well as animal handlers, Emergency Medical Technicians, and bilingual guides. Services provided include, among other things, vaccinating, deworming, and providing food for companion animals, treating hoof rot on large animals, and leading animals out of wet areas.

Teams have canvassed Villahermosa and are now moving into the more rural areas; including the nearby Pantanos de Centla Biosphere Reserve.

Animal relief efforts, which commenced almost immediately after the flooding began, have been a collaborative effort between Mexican and international organizations. Working with Dr. Jorge Tomas, a local veterinarian appointed by the Health Department to oversee animal operations, Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States have teamed up with Best Friends Animal Society, with advisory support from the International Fund for animal Welfare, to assist local relief groups, including Gente por la Defensa Animal (GEPDA), Universidad Juarez Autonomia, Asociacion Protectora de Animales de Tabasco, and others.

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