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Save animals, help people! FOUR PAWS emergency rescue action in the Philippines

The devastating typhoon “Haiyan” caused severe damage to the island state. Thousands of people are still struggling for survival, thousands of animals who are the livelihood of many of these people, in particularly farm animals, have also been affected. The FOUR PAWS animal rescue team set off to the Philippines to help the companion, stray and farm animals in need and to take the first actions towards providing sustainable protection for animals and humans. This includes, among others, pandemic disease prevention, vaccination programmes and water supply.


Update 23rd of December


Animal Christmas story in the Philippines: Injured giraffes and zebras treated by FOUR PAWS team


This weekend our team treated eight injured giraffes in a wildlife sanctuary in the Philippines. The team was led by FOUR PAWS vet Dr. Amir Khalil, who is particularly experienced in working in disaster areas. Team members report that the challenge was met successfully, despite the difficult conditions caused by the typhoon’s destruction of infrastructure. The operation took place as part of FOUR PAWS’ second relief mission in the Philippines, which aims to supply food to farm animals and medical treatment to both farm and companion animals.


Treating wounds to the tallest mammal in the world is a tricky task even for the most experienced vets. Dr. Khalil: “They’re not used to medical treatment, and on top of this the entire infrastructure was destroyed there, including damage to the treatment corral the giraffes need to pass through. Tranquilising these ungulates – which can reach six metres in height and weigh one-and-a-half tonnes on average – is not without its dangers, as when the anaesthetic kicks in the animal can be badly injured as it sinks to the ground. So we made every effort to avoid tranquilising, even though that makes it more dangerous for us humans.”


Working together with park staff, the FOUR PAWS team managed to attract several animals, including young “Claire”, into the corral, which although partly damaged, at least contained plenty of hay. They were then able to treat the animals without tranquilising them. Dr. Khalil first examined the animals’ general health, then the wounds could be cleaned and the necessary injections administered.


“Claire remained calm through the critical moments, so that I was properly able to carry out the treatment under these awkward conditions. She was under stress, of course, but she was quickly able to rejoin her group, which included her mother”, said FOUR PAWS vet DR. Khalil.


The management of the wildlife sanctuary had asked FOUR PAWS for support beforehand. Head of the park, Froilan P. Sariego: “Without the help of FOUR PAWS we would never have been able to treat the giraffes. We don’t have enough vets here, and the staff doesn’t have sufficient knowledge or training. The infrastructure has also been badly damaged or destroyed by the typhoon.”


The animal park is on the island of Calauit, to the north-west of Busuanga Island, covers an area of around 3,700 hectares, and hosts African big game animals such as giraffe, zebra, antelope and water buffalo. Eight of the twenty-one giraffes were hurt by falling trees, and the devastation is also making food hard to come by. The first Philippines mission saw the FOUR PAWS team arrange several months’ fodder for the giraffes and other wild animals living there; now the experienced vets have also been able to provide the animals with medical care. Due to the already short food supply, together with the stress of the typhoon and the increased difficulties accessing food, several zebras are having trouble breathing. Medicine and treatment could also be given to these animals.


The priority for the FOUR PAWS relief mission to the Philippines is initial care for farm animals, which represent a livelihood to the majority of people affected by the typhoon. “Altogether we’ve given medical treatment to over 600 animals and been able to provide 25 tonnes of food for 5,000 farm animals, and thus helped 3,000 families”, says Khalil. The mission was carried out in close cooperation with the Disaster Relief Coordination in Manila. Support was also given by Dr. Josef Müllner, the Austrian Ambassador in Manila.

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Please help us to continue helping animals in the affected areas which also helps the local people. 

Update 18th December

Our team has arrived safe and sound in the Philippines, and is already making preparations to distribute tons more  animal food. They will also provide medical treatment for more animals. The injured giraffes in Calauit Wildlife Park will be treated by our experienced veterinary team as at the last visit serious wounds and injuries were noted, but at the time they lacked the necessary equipment to act.


Please help us to continue helping animals in the affected areas which also helps the local people. 

UPDATE 12th of December: Right now FOUR PAWS is preparing for a second, follow up mission to the Philippines for next week.

This video shows the work and impressions of our disaster relief team.

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Update 10th of Dezember

The FOUR PAWS disaster relief team can draw a positive balance

Save animals, help people!

In the last two weeks of our disaster relief action in the Philippines, the FOUR PAWS team was able to support 1300 local families with twenty-five tonnes of animal food,  which means fodder for approximately 3000 farm animals. In the Philippines, many local people are keeping some of these so called ‘backyard animals’.

Medical assistance

In total, our team could provide medical treatment for 615 animals and vaccinate 130 with more vaccinations following soon; the necessary vaccine has already been organised. The news of our actions spread quickly, which led to numerous people, among them many children, bringing us their dogs and cats to get them examined and treated.

Positive reactions

The reactions of the local population in the villages and the local authorities were supportive and very positive. Many people had already been provided with much needed food by other relief organisations, but didn’t have any possibilities or resources to treat their injured animals and feed them sufficiently.  Furthermore, we were able to defer to the request of the authorities and react quickly, when special requests reached our team of experts. This way, we could e. g. secure fodder for twenty-one giraffes in the wildlife sanctuary Calauit for three months and treat some of the animals there. Large areas of the park were destroyed and numerous animals injured. Moreover, there is a serious lack of simple infrastructure.

FOUR PAWS will continue to be involved in the disaster relief actions in the Philippines. Our help was only made possible through the support of our donors.

Please support us too.


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 UPDATE 4th of December 2013

© FOUR PAWS l Mihai Vasile

Our team started early in the morning, making their way to the island Panlaitan from Salvacion. After a fourty-five minute boat ride, with three tonnes of pet food on board, they could finally start with the distribution. A total of 419 families have received food for their farm animals, sixty animals were treated medically and forty-two had received a rabies vaccination. Afterwards our team moved on to the wildlife park in Calauit. There, our vets were checking the medical condition of the animals to get an overview, which is essential to the park. The food delivery for farm animals and giraffes was confirmed, and will arrive by December the 5thbecause the boat trip from Manila to Coron takes more than twelve hours, and from Coron to Calauvit another four hours, so it was logistically impossible to receive the food on the same day. Mr. Froilan P. Sariego, the park director, was very happy to see our team and very surprised that we were able to manage the organisation of food for the giraffes so quickly. A large amount has been destroyed at the park and some animals are wounded and need medical care as there was no veterinarian visiting after the Typhoon until now. After an intensive development of a cooperation plan, our team handed the director one of our walkie talkies to facilitate communication with us. Therefore, he said, “I don’t know if I am dreaming, your actions were really, really fast. I never thought that this could happen to us, I never knew somebody to help as fast as you did, this is amazing.“

© FOUR PAWS l Mihai Vasile

UPDATE 2nd and 3rd December 2013

© FOUR PAWS l Mihai Vasile

On December the 2nd, one of our teams was working in the village Malbato, which is in the region of Bintuan and around thirty minutes away from Coron by car. Around 100 families received food for their farm animals, which means that more than 200 farm animals can be fed with the food we have given them for about two weeks. Furthermore, 439 animals were treated medically and sixteen dogs and one monkey received a rabies vaccination.

Our veterinarian Marina describes her impressions as follows: "In my point of view, our biggest success was that we managed to get 1000 rabies vaccines from the government of the Philippines, as they were only able to vaccinate 130 dogs on the island of Busuanga until now, in 2013. The impact we can achieve here is big, as one bag of rice for humans costs the same as one bag of food for farm animals. The people that our help reaches are very thankful for what we are doing and it is evident that our help is needed urgently, as there are hundreds of people waiting for us."


Lita Cabero, a wife of a vegetable farmer, received our help already as she visited us to acquire food and veterinary care for her two carabaos, two dogs, one pig and fifteen chickens:  "I am very happy and grateful for the help given by FOUR PAWS. I am very glad to know that my animals are now well catered for, for some time to come". Even Yuri Palance, the provincial councellor of Malbato, demonstrated why our help is so desperately needed: "People already received relief goods for humans from local organisations, but no food for their animals. We are really happy that the organisation FOUR PAWS is here.”

© FOUR PAWS l Mihai Vasile

The following day, December the3rd, started again with organising food supplies in Coron. The team succeeded to organise nine tonnes of food for farm animals, additional medicine and three tonnes of food for giraffes at the wildlife park in Calauit, which will arrive by courier directly from Manila to Calauit. Then, our team was divided again; the first team travelled by car to Salvacion to arrange accommodation, while the second team organised the transport of 3.2 tonnes using two boats. The delivery will be shipped for the food giving on December 4th.

© FOUR PAWS l Mihai Vasile

UPDATE 30th November and 1st December 2013

© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile

Currently, our teams are located in San Nicolas, near Coron, on the Philippine island of Palawan. The local families and their animals need our help immediately. Our aim is to provide food, medical supplies and vaccinations for their backyard animals. In cooperation and supported by the local council of the municipality, Mr. Yuri Palanca, as well as Joel Moreno responsible for San Nicolas, we were able to organise a truck with relief supplies at the weekend. In just one day, five tons of food were delivered and distributed to the animals of around 300 families. This should be enough for about two weeks now. Also in Bintuan, near Coron, we were able to provide aid services for 100 families and their animals. In addition, two of our veterinarians, Marina and Margareta, were treating over 100 animals medically. With support from emergency relief coordination units in Manila, we organised to receive medicine to treat up to 1000 animals.


San Nicolas was unfortunately hit very badly by the typhoon. The local assessment reports say that between 200 = 300 houses, out of a total of 600 homes, collapsed or have been completely destroyed. Our assistance is warmly appreciated and the people are very thankful for our help towards their backyard animals. Also the cooperation with local authorities and resident entrepreneurs, such as an Austrian hotel owner and his wife, work very well. Our effort continues, of course. We focus on supplying the basic needs of the affected people and animals, and endeavor to help them as quickly as possible.

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UPDATE 28th November


We split into two teams.

One team headed to the Municipalities Coron and Busuanga. Both regions are strongly affected; houses are severely damaged or completely destroyed, many without roofs, and there are broken trees everywhere. When talking to officials as well as local people, everyone l reacts positively to our mission as helping animals, – particularly the so called backyard animals (farm animals held by locals), is seen as also removing pressure from the people who have difficulties to satisfy their most basic needs and can’t even feed their animals.


The second team was asked by local representatives to inspect the situation at the Calauit wildlife sanctuary which was strongly hit by the typhoon, but no one has yet had the chance to provide any care for the animals at the site. It must have been a beautiful place prior to the typhoon, now leaving a vast island destroyed. There are hundreds of animals, including zebras, giraffes, deer, as well as cattle, some of which were injured and left in total chaotic conditions.

The distances are enormous, infrastructure significantly damaged which makes it even more difficult to send images back. Electricity is often cut off, making it a huge challenge logistically to organise first aid, including especially large amounts of animal food concentrates. However, after discussing our findings with the locals, we develop first action plans to organise what is needed to improve the situation in this particular region for both animals and people.

© Bildquelle Wikimedia

UPDATE 27th November 2013

Day 2: Team is heading towards Palawan.


On the first day of our mission “Save animals, help people”, the FOUR PAWS emergency rescue team had some important meetings with  ambassadors in Manila, as well as with government representatives and local animal welfare organisations. During various discussions, we attempted  to get an overview of where help was needed the most. While the disaster is huge and help is needed almost everywhere, we decided that our first mission will lead us to the island of Palawan – and that’s where our team is  heading to now.


Palawan was strongly affected by the typhoon, but there are no first aid teams there as yet.  The town of Coron has been badly hit, and  there’s an increasing  concern over the impact on hundreds of farm animals. But once we have a clearer picture, we will send  you a more detailed report which will include  full coverage!




Save animals, help people!

2013-11-25: FOUR PAWS emergency rescue team arrives in the Philippines

Two weeks after the devastating typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, thousands of people are still struggling for survival. The extent of the destruction is enormous. Thousands of animals who are the livelihood of many of these people, in particular farm animals, are also affected.


On Monday night a FOUR PAWS emergency rescue team arrived in Manila to provide assistance. Project leader Dr. Amir Khalil and his veterinary team want to quickly assess the situation and discuss with the authorities where aid is most urgently needed. Target-orientated and sustainable aid shall be provided quickly.

Their first reports only a few hours after their arrival in Manila are shocking. Many areas are still inaccessible to aid workers and both human and animal corpses have been visible.

The fate of humans and animals is closely connected; for example between farm animals and the rural population. Many of the farm animals in the Philippines are kept in small farms. These mainly consist of cattle, water buffalos, pigs, goats, chicken and ducks. Many farms have been destroyed by the typhoon.


"There is a risk of disease, and also of zoonosis; these are infectious diseases which could be transferred from animals to humans",explains Dr. Amir Khalil. The FOUR PAWS team wants to quickly initiate the most important steps to save as many farm animals as possible and therefore help people. "Our emergency plan consists first of treating wounded animals and to vaccinate as many animals as possible", says Dr. Khalil. "Furthermore, we want to help the farmers with the reconstruction of their farms by restoring water supply, repairing stables and providing sufficient food."

The FOUR PAWS emergency rescue team is also equipped to help other animals in need, such as domestic, stray and zoo animals.