Helping animals after Brazil dam collapse

15 March 2019

We were on the ground to assess animal health after the deadly dam disaster in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

A dam operated by the mining company, Vale, collapsed on Friday, January 25, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, affecting thousands of animals. Our team deployed to the area to liaise with the local authorities and help them manage the situation, and deliver aid to the animals in need.

So far, more than 140 people are confirmed dead and over 190 more are missing. We estimate that thousands of animals, including pets and livestock, have been affected by the dam collapse, but official numbers are not yet available.

Firefighters and volunteers search for bodies of victims in the mud, near Córrego do Feijão, one of the most impacted areas of Brumadinho.

Firefighters and volunteers search for bodies of victims in the mud, near Córrego do Feijão, one of the most impacted areas of Brumadinho.

Brumadinho is a ru​ral town where many animals such as dogs and cats live within the local community. The area is home to many small hold farmers who mainly raise cattle, dairy cows, chickens and pigs to supply the markets in Belo Horizonte. The Brazilian Institute of Geographic and Statistics (IBGE) estimates that around 15,000 cattle, 3,000 dairy cows and 10,000 pigs are raised in the area. Though numbers are unknown, forest and rivers nearby are home to thousands of wild mammals, reptiles and fish.

Helena Pavese, Executive Director of World Animal Protection Brazil, says: "We are devastated to hear that many people and animals lost their lives. Our objective on the ground is to make sure that all the needs of the animals affected by the disaster will be ensured. After that, it is clear that state authorities in Brazil must work to create and to implement strategies to prevent animal loss and damage in the future and include animals in disasters risk reduction plans."

Our Veterinary Programme Manager, Rosangela Ribeiro, and volunteer Camila Flores with the rescued dog “Laminha."

Our Veterinary Programme Manager, Rosangela Ribeiro, and volunteer Camila Flores with the rescued dog “Laminha."

We joined an operation led by a volunteer rescuer, Camila Flores, the police and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. Our team helped during the rescue of a dog, later named Laminha (which means "muddy" in Portuguese). Laminha is a small, kind mixed-breed dog. She was scared and tried to escape, hiding under two trucks that collided during the disaster and were dragged by the mud. We secured her transportation to the registration site and later the shelter where the rescued animals are being taken.

Dr. Suzanne from Minas Gerais University holds a happy puppy in the temporary shelter – World Animal Protection

More than 60 animals were brought to the rescue shelter. We provided support to Dr. Suzanne, a local vet and teacher from Minas Gerais University, and local veterinary faculty students, treating and caring for animals rescued from the field. We will continue to support Dr Suzanne and the shelter for the next six months, which will keep the shelter running and facilitate rehoming the animals when possible. ​

Learn more about our work to protect animals affected by disasters.

We estimate that thousands of animals, including pets and livestock, have been affected by the dam collapse.
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