More than 1,500 animals rescued in Antakya after deadly earthquake

Humane Society International team members rescue a stranded dog and her puppies in the earthquake in Hatay's Antakya district, on February 20, 2023.

Over three weeks after the deadly earthquake which hit Turkey and Syria, Humane Society International‘s animal rescue team has given medical care to just over 1,500 animals – including dogs, cats, rabbits, goldfish, a rooster, budgies, reptiles and more – across three main veterinary field clinics set up by local veterinarians and groups in the Turkish city of Antakya.

Animals are still being found alive trapped in damaged buildings or wandering the streets. Most of the animals brought to the clinics, have suffered “cuts, bruises, infected wounds, infected eyes, dehydration, starvation and shock”.

Tens of thousands animals have estimated to have died nationwide – often alongside their families, with more than 50,000 human victims of the devastating earthquake which struck the area in the early hours of Monday 6 February.

“Now they’re getting all the love and care they need to heal, but every day we’re finding more amidst the rubble and wreckage”

Kelly Donithan, HSI’s director of animal disaster response, said, “It’s remarkable that after more than three weeks since the first earthquake, our team is still finding animals alive, but they are in desperate need of help. Around 1,500 have been treated in just the three main veterinary field hospitals where we’re working in Antakya, and the numbers of dead animals across the country is likely to run into the tens of thousands.

“The animals we’re finding still alive are often in abandoned and damaged apartments, where they’ve been all alone throughout this disaster. I can only imagine how frightening it must have been for them enduring four earthquakes over the past couple of weeks, and also experiencing the deafening drone of helicopters overhead. When I think of how nervous my own animals are at home when there are loud bangs like fireworks, it’s heartbreaking to think how traumatized these animals must have been.

“Now they’re getting all the love and care they need to heal, but every day we’re finding more amidst the rubble and wreckage.”


  1. This is truly heartwarming news to hear that over 1,500 animals have been rescued in Antakya after the deadly earthquake. It’s inspiring to see the dedicated efforts of rescue teams, volunteers, and animal welfare organizations who have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of these animals.

    The images of rescue teams carrying injured animals to safety and providing them with medical care and attention are truly moving. It’s incredible to see the compassion and empathy shown towards animals in the aftermath of such a devastating event.

    It’s also encouraging to hear that animal welfare organizations are continuing to provide ongoing support and care for these animals, including shelter, food, and medical treatment. This highlights the importance of animal welfare in times of crisis and the need for continued support and resources to ensure the safety and well-being of animals affected by natural disasters.

    Overall, this post is a reminder of the importance of animal welfare and the incredible work being done to ensure the safety and protection of animals in need. Thank you for sharing this uplifting and inspiring story.


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