Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Finding Fido: Beirutis search for pets among explosion wreckage

Animal shelters and individuals took to the internet and the streets to find lost animals

As Beirut took stock of the shattered remains of their homes after Tuesday's explosion, many realised their furry companions were missing.

The blast killed over 100 people, and left shops, homes and charity premises open to the elements.

As the scale of the destruction became clear, one animal charity sprung into action, helping to find lost animals and reunite them with their owners.

CCTV from the inside of Lebanon Animals’ premises showed two cats resting on a sofa when, all of a sudden, a huge pane of glass came barrelling down, shattering on the floor.

"By the time we were able to get to the office … because the cats were panicking … they're climbing around, there's bloody cat footprints all over the place and two of the cats needed some emergency vet care for cuts on their feet,” Jason Mier, Executive Director of Animals Lebanon, told The National by phone.

After clearing up the bloody paw prints and sweeping glass into neat piles, the team turned to helping others.

“We were out until the early hours, helping people with their own pets, transportation, emergency vets, looking for lost pets and doing online co-ordination of lost and found pets and people that want to help,” Mr Mier said.

When The National spoke to Mr Mier on Wednesday morning, the charity had received over 50 emails asking for help finding lost pets.

The group’s Instagram and Facebook feeds are brimming with photos of cats and dogs with phone numbers and emails, resulting in some animals being reunited with their owners.

“Luckily there are people being reunited with their pets. Last night I think it was just very difficult because you couldn't even get down the road because there was too much debris in the roads,” Mr Mier described.

“Simply moving from spot to spot was difficult.”

But there are hundreds more still missing, having run away in fright from buildings with doors and windows blown out by the force of the blast which the government now says was caused by a huge store of ammonium nitrate catching alight.

As getting across the city is difficult during the clean-up process, Animals Lebanon has organised small search parties made up of volunteers to look for animals stranded in the chaos.

The searches have already borne fruit. In one video, a man can be seen delightedly being reunited with his brown and white dog, which runs into his arms with much wagging of tail.

Updated: August 5, 2020 08:58 PM

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