Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
11 July 1999 Issue

WSPA Aids Animal Victims of Kosovo
Unique Rescue Team Aids Kosovo's Forgotten Victims

BOSTON -- A disaster relief team from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is working in Kosovo to provide life saving veterinary care and to deliver tons of supplies to care for the war's silent victims.

The team estimates that at least 50% of the region's domestic animals have died in the recent conflict, with up to 80% having being killed in some districts. Huge numbers of animals left by fleeing refugees have died of starvation, whilst others have been injured or killed by gunfire or landmines. (WSPA) estimates that there were approximately 150,000 dogs, 200,000 cattle and 500,000 sheep and goats in Kosovo before the conflict began.)

The WSPA team is dealing with the animal casualties of the conflict, providing emergency treatment to sick and injured animals and linking up with veterinarians in the region to start distributing emergency supplies of veterinary medicines and equipment. With veterinary clinics having run out of medicines months ago, the team is currently organizing a large consignment of emergency supplies which they plan to supply to Kosovo's major veterinary centers which are based in the eight largest towns in the region.

Gerardo Huertas, WSPA Regional Director for Latin America, who is leading the relief team, said "There is an urgent need for veterinary medicines in Kosovo to help treat the thousands of animals that are injured or suffering from disease. During the past year of instability in the region, many veterinary clinics have run out of medicines and have been unable to buy more. WSPA's emergency consignment will help rebuild the region veterinary infrastructure, allowing vets to get back into action and treat urgent cases over the next two months."

Many of Kosovo's surviving animals are suffering from disease or injuries and the WSPA team has seen cattle suffering from mastitis (a painful infection caused by being left unmilked) wandering aimlessly along roads and in open fields. In addition, there are hundreds of diseased or injured stray dogs roaming the streets of Pristina and Prisren, having problems ranging from eye infections, mange, open sores to broken bones and malnutrition. Many stray dogs have taken refuge in unoccupied buildings and compounds which may have mines, booby-traps and unexploded shells.

The WSPA team is are working alongside colleagues from the Veterinary Ambulance Service in Skopje, Macedonia, and Kosovar veterinarians. The visit has been organized with the help of WSPA's member society the Macedonian Society for Animal Protection (SRNA). Andrew Dickson, WSPA Chief Executive, said "The current crisis in Kosovo has become a terrible tragedy for the people of the region and their animals. In situations like this, WSPA has a track record in working alongside humanitarian agencies to address the problems facing the livestock and pet animal populations."

One of the world's largest animal protection charities, WSPA has consultative status at the United Nations and the Council of Europe and has a long tradition of providing emergency aid to animals affected by man-made or natural disasters.

Previous examples of WSPA's disaster relief work include helping animals in the aftermath of the Gulf War and the conflicts in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Dickson, CEO
WSPA Disaster Fund
PO Box 190
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Laura Salter, Regional Manager USA, (617) 522-7000
Broadcast quality footage and still images available or
Live interviews with WSPA team members in Kosovo

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