Trouble in the Balkans––and Asia Minor

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1999:

LONDON–– Two border collies
named Kelly and Gemma symbolize to the
British public the frustration of trying to
help animals––and humans––in the
Balkans and Asia Minor.
Kelly and Gemma are trained
sniffing dogs, thoroughly vaccinated,
who were dispatched to Izmit, Turkey, by
the Gloucester-based disaster response
group Rapid U.K. after the August 17 predawn
earthquake that fatally buried as
many as 45,000 Turks in the rubble of
their collapsed homes.
Kelly and Gemma saved at least
six human lives. But because rabies
occurs in Turkey, they were locked into
quarantine immediately upon their return
home, their vaccination records not withstanding
bureaucratic constipation.

The Daily Mirror has editorially
taken up their cause, and animal-loving
Britons are responding with expressions of
relief that there is at last something tangible
they can do to help at least some of the
animals who are suffering in the wake of
the Serbian occupation of Kosovo, the
NATO bombing campaign that finally
ousted the Serbians, the flooding that hit
central Serbia soon afterward, and of
course the earthquake––which hit hardest
at one of the few parts of the Balkans and
Asia Minor that had some visible humane
Hundreds of animal rescuers
could have been usually put to work, if
they could have been sent where they were
needed, with adequate supplies to sustain
them and attend to the animals. But lack
of physical access to the most affected
areas meant intervention was limited––at
least initially––to whatever personnel from
the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, World Society for the Protection
of Animals, Macedonian SPCA, and
other groups were able to do with just the
veterinary drugs, tools, and food they
could carry.
In June, the German groups
Deutscher Tierschutzbund and Bund
Gegen Missbrauch der Tiere evacuated 30
animals from the Pancevo Animal
Protection Society in Serbia. WSPA
helped the animals at the Belgrade Zoo,
and the Greek organization Arcturos took
three of the Belgrade bears to a sanctuary
for ex-dancing bears in northern Greece.
In July, when finally able to
enter Kosovo, a three-member WSPA
team found in a two-week inspection that
“At least 50% of the region’s domestic
animals died in the conflict, with up to
80% having been killed in some districts.
Huge numbers of animals left by fleeing
refugees died of starvation,” WSPA press
officer Jonathan Owen told A N I M A L
P E O P L E, “while others were injured or
killed by gunfire and landmines.”
WSPA estimated that there were
150,000 dogs, 200,000 cattle, and
500,000 sheep and goats in Kosovo before
the Serbian invasian.
Through August and into
September, WSPA personnel assisted
local veterinarians in both Kosovo and
Serbia. IFAW staffers Jennifer Homcy
and Shirley Minshew helped in Turkey.
And all who were in either place were so
busy that details were scarce.

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