The National President, Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Dr Olutoyin Adetuberu,on Thursday called for the setting up of a committee on animal rescue during emergencies and disasters.
Adetuberu said this in Abuja, on the sidelines of the National stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Animal Welfare During Emergencies and Disasters in Nigeria.
She said that the meeting was a welcome development, expressing optimism that the outcome would address the welfare of animals in the country.
“We have been waiting for a meeting like this for a very long time, human beings are often rescued during emergencies, but we don’t take cognizance of the animal.
“The meeting is on how to rescue animals and rehabilitate them during emergencies and disasters, we can’t just let the animals to drown,” she said.
Adetuberu said that the stakeholders’ deliberations were aimed at boosting the animal sector so as to protect them.
“We want to recommend that during emergencies, the animal rescuers should be involved.
“We are not just rescuing because they are animals, we are also thinking of the human aspect of it, so that these animals would not begin to attack the populace,” she said.
She expressed hope that the end of the meeting, the stakeholders would come up with resolutions and the government would explore and implement same.
Speaking earlier at the event, Dr Umakaltume Abubakar, Deputy Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said animals were vulnerable in the event of natural disasters.
“Especially those living in the wild, hence natural disasters that harm humans also harm animals.
“In disaster situations, the welfare of animals, both domestic and wild is compromised, they are the forgotten victims of disasters,” she said.
According to the deputy director, millions of these animals suffer and die each year and experience the same terrible effects of disasters that humans do.
“They also experience injury, starvation, thirst, habitat destruction, displacement, illness and stress,” she said.
She said the way forward was to promote animal welfare by protecting animals through well-enforced laws and regulations.
“It is our responsibility as stakeholders to come together and determine measures that we need to put in place to mitigate the effects of disasters on our animals,” she said.
Abubakar said the unit’s mandate also covered disaster emergency, rapid veterinary response, animal rescue, as well as rehabilitation and treatment of animals.