Friday, February 23, 2024
dognatural disasters

Helping Haiti, People and Animals

I’ve added some updates in blockquote format throughout this story.

It’s as bad as the tsunami, not in numbers* but in trauma to a country that was already suffering from poverty and distress. They don’t need “things” right now, they really need money for food, water, clothing and other necessities that can be purchased locally. Later, when people are rebuilding and monetary donations have slowed, we can send food, clothing and furniture. You don’t have to give much; if everyone gave even only $5.00 it would make a huge difference to the charities that are on the ground and the ones preparing to leave.

*Initially, the numbers were in the tens of thousands, but as bodies are found under the rubble and people continue to perish from the aftereffects, the number has risen over 200,000. The estimate of loss from the tsunami ranged from 230,000 to 275,000 because some individuals were never found.

In every disaster the Search and Rescue dogs are integral, as brave and hard-working as the humans in the search and very often lifesavers because they can sense a living being below the rubble that a human would never know about; unfortunately, they can also find corpses, but this, too, has its place in a mission like the aftermath of an earthquake.

And animals in general, livestock, companion animals and wildlife, never had a very easy stay in Haiti, though many organizations were making great strides, especially with pets. Once things are stabilized, many animals will need to be rescued before diseases begin to spread, especially rabies, or former pets become wild with no place for them to go and be tamed.

First, the people

Pittsburgh has some interesting connections to Haiti in charities that are based here—WorldVision, Brother’s Brother Foundation, Hopital Albert Sweitzer are only three that are based in Pittsburgh. Our local reporters composed a few articles describing the local charities as well as the national and international charities with contact information.

Most interesting locally are two sisters, Jamie and Alison McMutrie**, who run an orphanage in Haiti, caring for 100 children, several of whom have pending adoptions. They came through the quake okay, but in messages texted on a borrowed BlackBerry they tell how are living in the yard with no food or water, and they feel the need to remove the children to a safer place in the United States. The children have a place to come to in Pittsburgh, but no large planes can land in the ravaged airport, so our local, state and federal politicians and others are working on getting whatever help they can. Read about it in the Post-Gazette, Ben Avon sisters awaiting help for imperiled orphans in Haiti and the Tribune-Review, 150 Haitian orphans coming to Pittsburgh.

There are so many articles in both newspapers that it’s impossible to keep up! Read the ones below and you’ll find links to newer articles, plus they have links to local news media for videos as well.

**It’s a little embarrassing that the first stories about these sisters misspelled their name (everyone seemed to use the more familiar “McMurtrie”), as did I; I’ve corrected it here and added a new tag, but people are still searching for the misspelled name. Good thing their rescue didn’t rely on our accuracy!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2009: From the Post-Gazette, among other articles, Haiti orphan rescue successful, and the Tribune-Review, 53 Haitian orphans arrive in Pittsburgh

MONDAY, JANUARY 18: The sisters finally got the assistance they needed, and on Monday night 61 children are on the plane ready to emigrate to Pittsburgh for later adoption. Read about it in the Post-Gazette in Plane carrying orphans delayed in Haiti and Tribune-Review Pittsburgh medical staff, Rendell, Altmire, doctors on plane to Haiti.

An organization called Deep Springs International, based in Grove City, helps to bring safe drinking water to sites all over the world by organizing a framework of local support and helping to develop and build a drinking water treatment system customized to the village, region or site. The co-founder lives in Haiti and sent a message from his blog to the Tribune-Review, Brotherhood hit home for former Moon resident Michael Ritter.

MONDAY, JANUARY 18: Michael Ritter updates the situation on drinking water in Haiti in the Tribune-Review: Grove City-linked safe-water charity tested by earthquake

Other local organizations with an interest in Haiti or with an international scope are listed in an article in the Post-Gazette as well as major organizations based worldwide, How to help recovery efforts for Haiti earthquake.

Then the animals

Highly-trained search and rescue dogs are essential to any recovery after a major disaster, and often not only for their skills but also for the welcome sight of a dog wagging its tail. The Search Dog Foundation is posting updates on its website, its Facebook page and on Twitter, and it’s interesting to see with a visit to their website all the other places dogs are deployed right now. I had no idea they were deployed in so many places.

They found five people on Sunday: Read about it in updates on their website

They have a challenge grant from Joanne Woodward and the Newman’s Own Foundation: Joanne Woodward Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation Award $100,000 Challenge Grant to the Search Dog Foundation

An interesting article outlines training a “sniffer dog” in The Science of Sniffer Dogs, which has information specific to what’s happening in Haiti. You can also read more about the care and training of a service dog in a collection of stories I posted under Heartwarming Tales of Dogs which covers dogs in military service, civil service and the programs that train them from puppies in jails and other facilities.

And the American Humane Association, through its Red Star Animal Emergency Services, is standing by until they can get into the country. The organization is called Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), with funding from American Humane and led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. They are assembling a mobile animal clinic and training technicians for when the call comes and they can enter the country.

The above organizations have all been posting updates on their websites and social media.

The Humane Society of the United States has been regularly reporting updates on their website as well as photos on Facebook.

The people and animals in Haiti will have needs for a long time to come. Just give a little where you can, knowing every little bit will make a difference.


From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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