The erupting volcano of La Palma thunders. The lava gushes out and starts on its way. Nearby neighbors come out terrified with almost nothing on them. Many take their dog, their cat or their chickens with them. Some do not. Evacuees and rescued are finding a temporary sanctuary in the makeshift animal shelter in El Paso.
“The island’s response to animals is being exemplary,” says Nayara, a worker at the wildlife center. “The truth is that many people have been mobilized. They have written us a lot to welcome. In fact, there are no cats left in the facilities, they have all already left,” he says. There are mostly dogs living there, but there are also some goats, parrots, canaries and a ferret.
Vehicles with material donated by neighbors or to go looking for an animal do not stop entering and leaving the shelter. “People have had to leave their home and it is super painful. And many in a great hurry, I know it is complicated, but many have left the animals behind. I understand the situation, but I ask that you try to take them away, or at least leave the animals behind. open doors, free them “, reflects the manager.
“We have had to make many interventions with the Civil Guard and the National Police. We have had to go into farms to pick up a dog,” he says. And, he adds that on one occasion these operations implied a certain risk to people’s lives, for example in “a farm with more than 50 chickens where the lava was going to reach him.” “It is always easier to leave a door open when you are going to be evacuated than for us to do it when we already have the volcano on top.”
In addition, goat or sheep cattle from farms affected by the lava have also found accommodation on farms far from the magma runoff. “There has been a lot of solidarity among ranchers,” says Nayara. “The cattle hut has been able to get to safety”, they confirm in the Palm Tree Association of Farmers and Ranchers.
The El Paso refuge is an improvised installation: a space where you can stay for as little time as possible. On the first night of the eruption, on September 19, 66 animals arrived. Two days later they counted 44. “They are the companions of both the families who have been evacuated and who have not been able to take them where they are staying now, as well as those we went out to rescue because they tell us that they have seen them, plus those that we detect in dangerous areas when we go to those notices “, details Nayara.
As soon as the first fissures of the volcano exploded, offers of shelters for the animals arose so that they would not be left defenseless by the accelerated flight of humans. In Breña Alta, Dacyl and María’s Yellow House “has already received chickens and the ones that remain,” they say. In Garafía, in the northernmost area of the island, Cecilia Hernández, from the Maragote association, has opened her farm, although “fortunately, it has not yet been necessary to move any animals here.”
Nayara interrupts the conversation whenever one of the dogs gets nervous. “It is normal, with what they have lived …”, he explains. The barking echoes repeatedly in the open space, but she does not seem to lose patience. He stops the sentences and goes to reassure the next one. “That is why we insist that it be very temporary, until the families settle down. Or, if not, we want to find them a different destination if they tell us that they cannot have them again. The less time they are here the better for them: almost anywhere is better than staying here. ”
“It is very well cared for”
A Labrador retriever begins to jump and whip its tail. A couple of a boy and a girl appears through the door of the lot. The dog lunges towards her. It’s Claudia, the owner. “His name is Axel and he has been here for two days,” he explains. He lives in Todoque, one of the urban centers where the lava blanket has finally passed. “We can’t have him where we are staying now so I come every day to see him and walk him around.” He also carries a sack of food for Axel. “I see him very well cared for, even chubbier,” he says. And he goes out for a walk with his partner.
“Cats and small dogs are easier when it comes to finding a temporary shelter,” they explain at the shelter. The great ones, like Axel, resist more. “And also the little ones who lived together because we don’t want to separate them,” Nayara says. “In itself it is a stressful enough situation to separate them from their siblings or friends and it is more difficult for us to find houses for them. It is what we need the most,” he insists.
Evacuations, for the moment, have stopped. The last ones were in the town of Todoque and the Tacande neighborhood in El Paso. This is what they were waiting for in the shelter so that the situation stabilizes and they can free up space. They are in a hurry, but they assure that they will manage. “We will be as long as it takes.”