Animals are the only thing left for many families who have lost everything in the La Palma eruption. The lack of a safe place to put them has forced many people to leave their pets in foster homes or at the Eusebio Barreto Institute in Los Llanos de Aridane. This educational center has become in recent weeks a refuge for dogs, cats, rabbits or birds rescued from the area damaged by the lava. Dozens of veterinarians and volunteers from all over the Canary Islands spend mornings, afternoons and some nights there to ensure the physical and emotional health of these animals. ” Suddenly their life has been broken and they do not know why they are here. They do not know why they are not in an open field or near their family, ” explains Esther Campos, president of the Benewara Animal and Plant Protection Agency.
From living in a house with a garden to sleeping in a caravan with six people due to the La Palma eruption
Campos has been living with his five cats in his real estate in La Laguna since Sunday, September 19. The lava has also forced her to leave her home. In spite of everything, he has decided to invest his time in caring for the animals of other families affected by the eruption.
Sandra and Aday are neighbors of Jedey, one of the neighborhoods evicted by the advance of the laundry. Now they live with some relatives in a building, so they had to leave their ten chickens in the Eusebio Barreto. More than 20 days after being evacuated, they have found an alternative for their animals. “We are going to take them to a banana plantation that we have so that they can be outdoors,” they say.
Aday has just overcome leukemia for the second time and talks about the volcano with resignation. “After winning two wars, this is one more battle.” But for him and his family, animals are fundamental. ” My father is older and used to always being with our cats. Since they cannot live with us at the moment, he is afraid that they will forget about him, ” says Sandra.
Stress and anxiety
Eusebio Barreto’s animals have survived the eruption, but they have yet to live with the sound of the volcano and the ash that covers everything. ” Everyone is frightened and anxious. Not only because of the catastrophe they are experiencing, but also because of the sudden separation from their home. It is a brutal post-traumatic shock, ” says La Palma veterinarian César Bravo. Sometimes, when the volcano’s explosions are constant, specialists are forced to resort to sedation.
Many of the animals that have been rescued have lost eyes or arrive in a state of dehydration. Others have had to run or have been affected by smoke, gases and ash, resulting in skin wounds or respiratory and eye problems. ” You have to give them a mental structure because they are emotionally touched, like people. The difference is that they do not know what happened, ” says the president of Benewara. To give the animals a routine, volunteers organize to take them out for walks each day at the same time and to keep the space clean. Also, at night, nobody can go to see the animals.
Carla is a neighbor of Los Llanos de Aridane. At the age of 17, she has decided to invest her time in caring for all the animals that pass through the Eusebio Barreto Institute as a volunteer. ” I have seen dogs that have had a hard time. There are also many people who take advantage of the situation to abandon their dogs. I like to see them well. I want to take care of them and that they have the maximum attention, ” he says. The volunteer explains that some have arrived sick and have needed an operation. Others have arrived with broken hips due to being run over. The yard is full of donations, but the volunteer explains that more specific food is needed, because some cats get diarrhea from having inhaled gases or ash.
Some animals come to this educational center at the hands of their own owners, who have been evicted and no longer have a place to keep their animals. However, most of them are rescued directly by emergency teams. ” Every morning the scientists meet with the security operatives at the Forward Command Post. There, information is provided on the areas where we can enter, ” says veterinarian César Bravo.
Veterinarians, accompanied by security agents, are in charge of saving the animals. During these rescues, they must wear adequate shoes, with a helmet, masks and all the necessary material to make the capture safely.
Cattle are drifted to the El Paso fairgrounds. So far this space houses 180 animals including pigs, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, goats and sheep. The councilor for Local Development and Livestock of the City Council, Gustavo Concepción, indicates that these animals arrived “quite nervous” the first days. ” They presented a lot of stress, which was not only because of the volcano, but also because they were out of their habitat.
“Now, thanks to the work of the volunteers and the donations we receive from various parts of the archipelago, we can keep them in good condition,” he says. At this point, families can also travel to milk their goats and take care of their livestock.
“We see enormous joy in families who thought they had lost everything and suddenly find their dog or cat,” celebrates the veterinarian. “Sometimes it is the only thing they have left, and it is comforting to know that you are doing something that is going to help that person get ahead,” he adds. Some palm trees and palm trees go to the institute every day to try to locate their animals. To facilitate reunions, the Benewara protector publishes photos of all the rescued animals on her Facebook page.
” What we need is for no one to forget about this when the volcano stops. When there is an apparent normality, people will also be needed and the victims will continue to need help, ” says Esther Campos.