After Beirut was rocked with an explosion last week, hundreds of volunteers immediately went trough the wreckage near the city’s port to look for traumatized pets who were alone and injured.
Animal Lebanon, an animal rights non-government organization based in Beirut, immediately organized a group of more than 200 volunteers to help animals in need. They went to parts of the city that were badly destroyed by the explosion.
“We improvised getting into the area near the blast. Cars cannot go there because there’s just so many stones on the ground that the car cannot pass by,” Maggie Shaarawi, Animal Lebanon vice-president, told CGTN Europe in an interview.
They has been on the ground rescuing animals since the explosion on Aug. 4.
“We have motorcycle teams coming every day waiting at the exit paints and at the entry points of the major area affected. Volunteers are on foot locating the animals. And then you have a few people who are experienced in catching cats and dogs,” she said. “They run to the location, get off the bike and then take the animal to the hospital. So, we’re really acting like the Red Cross for animals.”
The blast left about 6,000 people injured and an estimated 300,000 people are left homeless.
“We saw a cat on a two-story house, and the second floor was already destroyed,” Kamal Al Khatid, a volunteer with Animals Lebanon, told CGTN. “The cat was on the first floor, and the civil defense were zoning [the area]. They were not allowing anyone past. I said ‘you have to let me rescue the cat.’ And he said, ‘no, you cannot.’ I thought, okay, let me ask you something. ‘If you see a person on that floor, would you go and rescue them and risk your life?’ And he said yes. ‘Okay, I am the same, but I rescue animals.'”
Only highly-trained volunteers are allowed to go into the building to rescue animals, noting that some animals had severe injuries due to the blast.
“They were thrown off balconies. Most of the cats, we got them from the elevator shafts, and they’ve been there for six and seven days with broken legs or broken jaws. It was really horrific,” he added.
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