Cats rescued from Beirut, Lebanon, find refuge in local shelter

MENANDS – The 14 cats brought to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society have traveled much further than their fellows, all thanks to the efforts of a veterinarian with a 30-year career and a deep interest in rescuing homeless animals.

For the past five years, Dr David Chico has worked with Animals Lebanon, a non-profit animal welfare organization located in Beirut. Due to Beirut’s complex economic climate, the organization and the vet worked to save unprotected animals and bring them to the United States for adoption. This is the case for the 14 cats brought to the Menands refuge on December 4.

The efforts became crucial after an ammonia nitrate explosion in Beirut in December 2020, where more than 200 people were killed and hundreds displaced. It also left hundreds of animals displaced and pet owners have pleaded for their animals to be taken care of for safety.

“When you are faced with such a situation and choices between feeding your family or feeding your pet, of course people will prioritize feeding their families. And so many animals have been donated or abandoned to us, ”said Chico, a full-time New York State Agriculture and Markets veterinarian who also practiced in private practice at Burnt Veterinary Hospital. Hills for 25 years.

He started his animal rescue work by volunteering with an organization called the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, about eight years ago. With IFAW, Chico worked to save animals in the Philippines after a typhoon hit.

“I feel like I was given the opportunity to be a vet and I love giving back to the community using my education and my profession to help in these kinds of situations,” said Chico.

When he started working with Animals Lebanon about five years ago, he was able to help save cats and dogs. But over the past year, dogs have been banned from transport by the United States Center for Disease Control for fear of spreading rabies.

As a result, Animals Lebanon was only able to rescue cats and bring them to partner animal shelters in the United States, such as the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and the Susquehanna SPCA in Cooperstown. Once the animals are found, they are transported to shelters that have room to accommodate them.

“I’m contacting shelters to see if they’re available to receive transportation and that’s what sets the ball rolling,” Chico said.

There have been four transports of 50 cats since 2018 from Lebanon.

“The reason I am doing this is because these people are struggling in a country where they are struggling to buy adequate food and yet they are still dedicated and committed to taking care of their animals,” said Chico.

I am so proud to be associated with them. This organization succeeded in passing the first law in the country that made animal abuse a criminal offense, ”said Chico. Lebanese President Michel Aoun officially signed a law in 2017, legally protecting domestic and wild animals from abuse. This is the first animal welfare bill passed in the country’s history.

Speaking of the sacrifices of the families who give their pets to Animals Lebanon for shelter, he said: “The volunteers and the people in Lebanon when they see animals leaving and going to the United States to find a home, it is ‘is very satisfying. “

“It’s a great location all around.

The Menands Shelter is happy to help care for pets and give them new life in a safe and loving home, said Marguerite Pearson of Mohawk Hudson. Some have required serious veterinary care, including amputations, while others only need sterilization or sterilization and vaccinations. The recent group of animals have lived in foster homes and are in very good physical shape and very well socialized, she said.

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Jennifer R. Strohm