At Chile's Ground Zero, We See Animals Everywhere
An Animal Rights Article from

April 2010

Over the course of the day, we see an estimated 500 dogs. The stray population has ballooned with animals displaced by this disaster.

Kinship Circle works alongside Chilean veterinarians to save them -- but can’t get animals off the streets without your help. Worse, Chile’s government has discussed a cull of 700,000 animals in hard hit communities.

As we travel the coast, Kinship Circle's Traci Dawson likens it to Chile’s “Upper Ninth Ward,” in reference to a Katrina ravaged community in New Orleans. Pre-quake strays with mange, malnutrition, infection...blend with animals displaced by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunamis.

Still, that puppy in the middle of the road? She is safe and will be adopted. The animals near the oil spill? They are fed and clean.


  • To send teams over several months, including airfare, van rental, field rescue gear, etc.
  •  To position our project manager on site and maintain daily communications.
  •  To (funds permitting) develop a temp clinic/shelter for injured, sick and homeless.

Eye infections are common, some due to prolonged saltwater exposure following an earthquake prompted tsunami.

4/2/10: Villa Futura, north of Concepcion, Chile

OVERVIEW: Kinship Circle team members Traci Dawson, June Towler, Shawndra Michell, Maureen Valentine and Byron Wilkes work in a temp vet clinic, with  three Chilean veterinarians, student vets, and six volunteers from a SACH (Socorro Animal Chile / Animal Relief Chile) member group, Animal Dignity. Outside the clinic, a line of people and animals stretch down the sidewalk...

ACTIVITIES: The turnout is staggering. There are virtually no neutered dogs... Vets examine animals, checking eyes, teeth, ears, glands, neck region, flea infestation, spines, organs, heart, etc. Skin disorders are prevalent, as are wounds and bites.

ISSUES: The clinic runs out of pest spray, latex gloves and paper towels. Though Kinship donates latex gloves, there still aren’t enough.

STATS: Today the clinic sees over 200 animals.

KC's Byron Wilkes brings food to one of many dogs roaming in ruined Chilean towns. Animals are examined at makeshift vet clinics. Skin disorders are prevalent, as are wounds and bites. Photos (c) Kinship Circle, Chile 2010

4/1/10: Santa Clara Talchuano / 9:00 am

OVERVIEW: An earthquake and tsunami crashed into this "fishing town" near ground zero. Torn nets and debris cover beaches and streets. Numerous dogs rove amid rubble. Homes are rimmed with waterlines about 5 feet high. Buildings have Katrina-like mold, mud, water damage and collapsed walls.

ACTIVITIES: We spot a nursing dog. Fishermen lead us to the vicinity of her den. We search for her pups to evaluate their condition, but mom has tunneled so deep underground that we are unable to safely reach them.

Some evacuated locals left animals behind. An extremely large stray population wander streets and deserted buildings. All seem friendly, if skittish. We don’t encounter any aggressives.

ISSUES: Mange, wounds, starvation, lack of water. Food is distributed in measured amounts because many sell food rather than feed animals.

SIGHTING STATS: Roughly 100-150 dogs and unnumbered cats.

4/1/10: Calita Los Morros / 2:30 pm

OVERVIEW: Military tents and small shacks of wood and pallets serve as evacuee camps here. Many are with animals, but not all. Some conflict erupts between neighbors with and without animals...

ACTIVITIES: The team provides food and medical care to animals in the camp. Two cats with severe upper respiratory disease are treated on site.

During street rounds, we visit a family with multiple dogs -- including a mom with a large litter and several cats. All animals are checked, treated and left with food. KC revisits a resident who told SACH she'd leave with her dogs. As suspected, she did not take them. The abandoned dogs are fed and we'll attempt to find a home for them...

ISSUES: Mange, injuries, wounds, starvation, TVT, distemper. TVT, a canine venereal virus prevalent here, is transmitted via contact (sexual, touch/rub open wounds, nasal). Dogs get large red "cauliflower" tumors...

SIGHTING STATS: Approximately 200 dogs/cats.

4/1/10: Calita il Fiernillo, Quake causes oil spills / 5:00 pm

OVERVIEW: The earthquake caused an oil spill at a refinery along this town's shore. Dogs and cats wade through black-water puddles. One cat is found atop a roof drenched in oil... Animals are decontaminated, but with no temp shelter, we can only release them.

In a an area swarming with strays, we capture and treat a very skittish dog whose staked out his "spot" on a slab of cardboard. Down the road, we find an 8-week-old puppy dazed and ragged in the middle of an intersection. SACH takes the puppy to a clinic, where she'll remain till healthy enough to adopt out. Kinship Circle team members contribute money toward the pup's clinic fees, as SACH reveals they are now completely out of money.

SIGHTING STATS: Over the course of the day, we see an estimated 500 dogs. The stray population has ballooned with animals displaced by this disaster.  

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