Chilean vet helps dogs, cats and rabbits injured in wildfires

Escobar said the Americas University veterinary clinic has treated pets during other wildfires but the current blaze, Chile's worst natural disaster in years, was unlike anything he had ever seen

Reuters
Published : 7 Feb 2024, 05:03 AM
Updated : 7 Feb 2024, 05:03 AM

Among the mountains of debris left over from raging wildfires that have killed more than 120 people in Chile are lost dogs and cats, wandering the streets covered in ash and burns.

Some whine behind gates where houses used to be, others stick to new people they have found, and others still feed on piles of dog food people have left on street corners for them.

Christopher Romero, 22, was out buying groceries when the fire struck his home in Vina del Mar on Friday. He says his father was able to get his family to safety but their two dogs, Black and Kiara, fled into the night.

Romero and his family finally returned to their home on Sunday to clear through the rubble and look for their pets but had no luck. Then neighbours told them there was an Akita in a ravine, burnt and not moving.

"We checked and it was (Black)," Romero said. "He couldn't walk, he was scared, in shock, he didn't let anyone get close to him."

More neighbours then came to help Romero and his family pick up Black and get him to the Americas University veterinary clinic in Vina del Mar, which has been treating pets injured in the wildfires.

Black was given painkillers, injections and his burns and wounds were cleaned before he was discharged.

Nicolas Escobar, the university's veterinary director, said the clinic has attended to more than 100 dogs, cats and rabbits since Friday, treating burns, giving oxygen and even reviving some of them.

Escobar said the clinic has treated pets during other wildfires but the current blaze, Chile's worst natural disaster in years, was unlike anything he had ever seen.

"This is a much bigger tragedy. I've never seen a situation this complicated," Escobar said, adding that many of his students had lost their homes in the fires.

He said the clinic has also been helping track down owners of lost pets through social media or by scanning microchips. Escobar said that they have been able to reunite a few pets, but many others remain missing. Kiara, Romero's other dog and Black's partner, is one of them.