Part of the island of La Palma had to be evacuated due to the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano. Some residents – including from Todoque – fled in fear and left their dogs at home. Three weeks after the outbreak, the animals are hungry and thirsty. Two local companies decided to help and feed them using drones.
Two companies contracted by La Palma’s local government in the Canary Islands are droning water and food to dogs trapped in the lava flowing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, Nieves Rosa Arroyo, the regional minister of security and emergency, said in a press release on Wednesday.
Dogs, many of which are greyhounds, are found in the high-altitude zone of the village of Todoque in the south of the island, a place called Isla Bonita (Beautiful Island). Surrounded by lava, they cannot escape, nor can they be taken from there. After many days of erupting, they are emaciated and thirsty.
The situation of animals after the outbreak of Cumbre Vieja
Many La Palma residents left their pets after fleeing their homes due to a volcanic eruption more than three weeks ago. Some animals – especially farm animals – were transported to a safe place, even before the volcano eruption, during a preventive evacuation. However, some people did not flee the endangered places until the last moment, just before the lava flowed down. They didn’t take their pets with them.
This happened in the town of Todoque in the municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane. The region is one of the last built-up places touched by the lava flow that destroyed everything it encountered along the way. Over 1,200 inhabitants left the town before it completely disappeared from the map. Last Tuesday, 800 more people were evacuated.
Lava has already flooded over 650 hectares of La Palma and has isolated many places where animals live. Many of the rescued were taken in by other households or social organizations took care of them, placing them in areas made available by local authorities. The Abandoned Animals Association in La Palma (Aanipal) reported that it was overloaded and that it was not possible to accept any more creatures left behind. Horses and cows are grouped at the El Paso fairgrounds, where hundreds of pigs, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, goats and sheep are also housed. There, the owners are looking for their pets.
‘Dozens of veterinarians and volunteers take care of the survivors,’ said Minister Nieves Rosa Arroyo. Many animals have escaped from smoke, volcanic gases and ash, have wounds, respiratory problems, and symptoms of dehydration. They are stressed by the sounds of an erupting volcano.
They help them with drones
According to Alexander Libran of the Canary Islands Government’s Fire Intervention Unit (EIRIF), there have never been so many drones in emergency use. The devices provide technicians, scientists and the public with the information they need in real time.
– It was not possible before – he emphasized. – It’s a technological leap. We can see where the lava flows, identify the cut off and isolated areas. Although nothing can be done against the lava, we cannot avoid the destruction of houses, but it is possible to evacuate people and save animals – he said.
Rosa Arroyo added that the lava-cut off dogs in Todoque are provided with water, food and remote veterinary care thanks to the drones.
Dogs cannot be rescued by air due to the hot air emitting from the lava and volcanic ash that could damage the helicopter rotors.
Main photo source: Reuters