Coast Guard

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1995:

Responding to reports that the
U.S. Coast Guard shoots the pets of
refugees picked up in the Caribbean,
USCG public affairs chief Captain E.J.
Blanchard writes, “We make every effort
to provide for the safety of life at sea,
including animals. However, the rescue
of human life remains our foremost prior-
ity. In July and August the USCG res-
cued over 56,000 Haitians and Cubans
from flimsy overloaded boats, rafts, and
inner tubes. An unknown number of ani-
mals were also rescued. Our most diffi-
cult moments came during the early days
of the Cuban exodus. On one day alone,
over 3,300 people on 600 different rafts
were rescued. Some of our 110-foot cut-
ters had over 400 boat people each on
their decks. Our commanding officers
were making life-and-death decisions on
a minute-by-minute basis. Unfortunately,

the presence of animals, some of them
frightened and unpredictable, presented
yet another safety concern in this mael-
strom,” particularly since few if any had
been vaccinated against rabies. “It was
necessary for some of our commanding
officers to humanely dispose of a small
number of animals. This action was lim-
ited to the very early hours of this mas-
sive operation. After additional cutters
were brought into the operation, all ani-
mals encountered on the rafts were taken
aboard cutters and eventually landed at
the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay,
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