By Miguel Calero
The volcano of Old Summit is showing many realities on an island, The Palm, with a population so small that all its inhabitants practically know each other.
Solidarity with those affected is immense, and that heat also reaches their animals, whether they are pets or farm animals, thus giving a great example of a society that almost a month later is still covered in ash and through whose territory lava runs rampaging. with everything in its path.
The Benawara association is the animal shelter that from the first moment of the eruption of the volcano in Cumbre Vieja mounted an operation of care and shelter for the animals that were suffering its consequences.
“On the same Sunday, September 19, we began to collect dogs and cats from residents of the evacuated areas who had no where to place their pets,” Ariadna Méndez, one of those responsible for Benawara, tells EFE, while loading several packages of Animal food that will be distributed around the exclusion zone so that the dogs that still remain in those places are fed.
Ariadna recalls that they had already had a previous experience with the fire that occurred in the urban area between El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane, when the protector had to take in numerous animals.
“But this is totally different, it surpasses us, because we are facing a catastrophe of great magnitude and there are many affected animals whose owners have lost everything and now do not know what to do with them,” he says.
In the fields of the Conrado Hernández sports hall, in Los Llanos de Aridane, an area has been set up to provide care for the affected animals. “All kinds of pets come to us every day: dogs, cats, but also birds, parrots, hamsters, even a peacock,” he says.
“The first thing we do, with the help of volunteer veterinarians, is to see what state of health they are in, if there are wounds we heal them. Also in the case of dogs we pass the microchip reader, as this helps us to be able to locate their owners ”.
According to the experience of these days, a high percentage of the owners of the foster pets are located. “In many cases we have to give the animals in temporary foster care, since many of their owners do not have a house, because they have lost it to the volcano and, either they are in houses shared with relatives, or they are even staying in the hotel from Fuencaliente ”, he explains.
The Benawara protector has mobilized and has a large number of shelters in which the pets temporarily remain until their owners can pick them up again.
“They do not lack food. Thanks to the innumerable expressions of solidarity we have food so that the shelters can attend to the needs of their new guests ”, comments this young veterinary assistant.
The fields of the Conrado Hernández sports center have become an improvised, but highly organized, animal shelter, in which a significant number of volunteers carry out multiple tasks.
On one side are the cages in which the dogs stay, and on the other, those of the cats. There are also birds, mainly birds.
“I try to leave this type of more delicate pets to already known collaborators of the protector, who we know will have special treatment and, above all, a lot of time, because the most important thing to collaborate is to have enough time to dedicate to the animals , because they require attention given the suffering they are having ”.
Ariadna Méndez relates that many pets have been found wandering around the affected areas, with wounds caused by the lava, poisoned by the gases or by the ash itself.
“The work of the Benawara animal shelter is being highly applauded by many claimants, either expressing their support directly or through social networks, where we are very active, because there we publish the photos of the animals found, of which we do not we know their owners ”.
Donations of pet food and other products keep pouring in. “Most of them send them to us in a personal capacity; we have even received a full truck of dog food donated by an individual ”, says Ariadna as she helps the president of the association, Esther Campos, to register a new dog found in the affected area.
Many of these foods are distributed throughout the exclusion zone of the volcano. “In neighborhoods where there are still loose animals, we leave food and water; In this we are also helped by the people from the emergency operation who have access to the areas ”.
In the late afternoon of this Wednesday, the shelter had welcomed about thirty dogs and many more cats. The volunteers take care of them, cleaning their cages, feeding or simply taking them out for a walk. There the activity is 24 hours, it does not stop.