Doctors and nurses aren’t the only ones who are helping others as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The following individuals saw animals in need and did whatever they could to end their suffering—wherever they happened to be. PETA has recognized their efforts to make the world a kinder place and is sharing their stories in the hope that they’ll inspire others to help animals in distress, whether there’s a pandemic or not. To anyone we missed but who did what they could to help, we say thank you!
Cat Rescued After Being Stuck in a Palm Tree for Six Days!
When Yasmine Tolaymat alerted Lana A. Dabbas to a cat who had been trapped in a tall palm tree in Jordan for five days, they knew that they had to act quickly. With high-voltage electrical wires and dry foliage making rescue attempts difficult, they had to find some way to bring the frightened feline to safety. The poor animal hadn’t had any proper food or water and was meowing constantly.
Dabbas managed to gather a team of rescuers together, all of whom agreed that they must rescue the cat even with COVID-19 restrictions in place. The team included the Civil Defence, Municipality, Electric Co, and a brave climber, Dya Almkahl.
Rescue attempts continued throughout the night, and finally, at 3 p.m. the following day, the cat was successfully rescued from the frightening ordeal.
Rangers Stay on Isolated Island to Protect Turtle Eggs From Poachers
Thanks to 10 dedicated rangers who stayed on inhabited islands in Indonesia—vital nesting sites for sea turtles in Southeast Asia—poachers weren’t able to find turtle eggs and sell them on the black market. (As many as 80 critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles lay their eggs on a single island in the area.)
The rangers—Berly, Nof, Mudar, Kasim, Dandy, Edi, Riswan, Juli, Lius, and Famhi—weren’t even sure if the boat containing food and drinking water for them would arrive or how their loved ones were managing in other parts of the country. But they remained positive and continued their successful efforts to save turtles.
Stranded Tourist Rescues Animals, Inspires Hostel to Start Foster Program
While locked down in Laos on her travels throughout Asia, Patricia Stanley came across a homeless puppy—now named Bianco—helpless and alone on the streets. Stanley brought the pup back with her to the hostel, which welcomed the dog.
A few days later, when Stanley was walking, she spotted a tiny kitten crying in a bush, about to be swept away by a sudden thunderstorm. She rescued him and, after failed attempts to locate his mother, named him Simba and bottle-fed him back to health.
Simba got a little stronger each day, and Stanley was able to share her bed with both animals. While she would love to bring them home with her, that may not be possible. Fortunately, she has inspired the hostel to start a foster program, making sure that both animals will always be in good care.
Veterinarian Expands Practice During COVID-19 Outbreak
Dr. Chamith Nanayakkara, a dedicated veterinarian, was located in a rural village in Sri Lanka conducting an animal health camp when COVID-19 restrictions were imposed. Traveling home, he noted that stray dogs and cats looked surprised to see the empty streets and were surely wondering what had happened to everyone who was usually kind to them. Moved by the animals’ plight, he contacted associates in other cities and started a daily feeding program for animals in each town.
Dr. Nanayakkara also offered free veterinary treatment and advice to anyone who called or brought in a sick animal, as most of the veterinary clinics in Sri Lanka were closed. In one case, an injured, pregnant dog was brought to his temporary clinic, in need of an emergency C-section. The pups were delivered successfully and were fed by another resident dog while their mother gained strength and was finally able to start feeding again.
Dr. Nanayakkara said, “I could feed, treat, rescue, and rehome many animals during this pandemic situation, and even if I got infected, I could die as a veterinary doctor and human who did my maximum to help animals.”
Vegan Spent 24 Hours Inside a Cage to Call Attention to Meat Markets
In order to point out the connection between live-animal markets, factory farms, slaughterhouses, and pandemics such as COVID-19, Australia resident Mippy Valentine crawled into a small cage in her living room and livestreamed her 24-hour experience in extreme isolation.
She said, “When animals’ stress levels are so high, it cripples their immunity system and then their diseases are then able to spread. This is how most pandemics happen, but, sadly, it seems like most people are unaware. … Every time someone buys a pork sausage, they don’t stop to think about mother pigs, who are forced to give birth in cages so small they can’t turn around.”
Valentine added that cramming herself into a small cage for one day was nothing compared to what billions of animals endure for their entire lives. She urges everyone to change the way they see and treat animals and go vegan.
Meal Service Gives Vegan Food to Those Unemployed Because of COVID-19
Kindhearted Yulia Khouri founded Mama’s Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, because she wanted to supply free vegan meals to children, people with disabilities, and elderly folks who live without families in the poorest areas of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Mama’s Kitchen employs single moms and other individuals who suddenly became unemployed because of COVID-19 and has so far delivered 2,000 meals to those in need.
They cook and deliver food for animals, too, as it has been difficult for some individuals who once fed community animals to continue their compassionate efforts.
Khouri plans to continue to provide the needy with free vegan meals after the pandemic ends. She also teaches about vegan living and how important it is to the survival of the planet. She says that Mama’s Kitchen will continue feeding strays, and she hopes to recruit human beneficiaries to feed animals, too, because “hunger is hunger no matter the species.”
Stranded Nurse Volunteers at a South African Bird Rescue
Fran Bell was on her way home to Australia after a long stint working as a veterinary nurse in the U.K. when she got stuck in Cape Town, South Africa, where she had stopped to visit the penguins at a rescue and rehabilitation center that she’d volunteered at in 2012. When COVID-19 struck and her impending flight home was canceled, she decided to put her skills to good use and offered to volunteer at the rescue.
Fortunately, the bird rescue remained operational throughout the lockdown. Many staffers had to switch roles and responsibilities, and because of her experience, Bell began working as a veterinary nurse and supporting the rehab workers. She helped care for many sick and injured birds, including a penguin with a seal bite that had become infected. Bell doted on the bird and helped with each of his surgeries. Although his wound was extensive, he has been healing nicely and will soon be released.
Man Builds Feeders for Stray Dogs and Places Them Around the Country of Georgia
Using recycled materials that he finds, Zakaria Dolidze invented and built feeders for homeless dogs in Tbilisi, Georgia. Since public transportation was canceled because of the coronavirus and it’s difficult for him to cover long distances, Dolidze placed feeders around the city and found other caring individuals to help fill them.
“I strive to save as many stray animals as possible and most importantly to involve our society in the process,” he says.
At one point, he had built 58 feeders, but he wants to install 200 of them. He also built and delivered a doghouse to the children of an orphanage, who will continue to care for a small puppy who was found wandering the streets.
Groups Feed Frontline Workers and Support Fruit and Vegetable Farmers
A few days before the lockdown in the Philippines, a kindhearted group including Jaq Abergas, Gen Iñumerable, A.V. Gawtee, Maris Tomas, and Jertie Abergas discovered that there wasn’t enough help for at-risk communities to get them the supplies that they needed to survive the pandemic. So a group was formed to organize a drive, focusing on soap, rubbing alcohol, and vitamins for people in underprivileged communities in Quezon City.
They raised enough money that they were able to buy fruit from a local farmer to include with the relief pack. Wanting to do even more, the team organized a second drive to help medical frontliners. They raised more money and used it to buy facemasks, gloves, head caps, shoe covers, and protective suits for seven hospitals.
As if that weren’t enough, they proceeded to hold a third drive to distribute vegan food relief packs in Quezon City while working with local farmers from Bulacan. The packs included rice, assorted vegetables, munggo, soap, and vitamins.
Overall, 330 needy families received care packs, and the dedicated team—with the help of Vegans of Manila, Sunday Smoothies, Jertie’s Kitchen, Earth Desserts, and AntojitosPH—raised around P300,000 in monetary and in-kind donations to help their fellow Filipinos.
Teen Partners With Restaurants to Start Free Vegan Meal Distribution System
Residents of Chiang Mai, Thailand, are fortunate to have Warin Chotirosniramit, an 18-year-old who launched an ambitious and compassionate project to help feed the hungry.
When Warin’s father told him about a program in which restaurant patrons could “pay it forward” for the next person in need of a meal but with no means to pay, Warin decided to start his own “Share Your Fullness” project. The student cycled around the quiet city and stopped at restaurants that were keeping their doors open for delivery.
As luck would have it, the first restaurant Warin visited was Jey Myjum Jey, which is owned and operated by a kind woman, Ms. Theptida Rattanamongkol, who touts vegan eating. With her help, Warin was able to transform his simple handwritten placards reading, “Help Feed the Hungry,” into full-color posters explaining the system: Patrons at participating restaurants could donate meals to people in need, and the owner of the restaurant could choose to match the donations by offering meals at cost or slightly above cost, depending on their ability.
Within a couple of weeks, 20 restaurants were participating in Warin’s project, including 15 vegan or vegetarian restaurants to emphasize how vegan living helps the hungry and saves animals.
South Korean Holds Demonstrations About Dog Meat and Pandemics
To remind people that pandemics have no borders and that the next zoonotic disease could come from anywhere—especially from Korean dog meat farms—Jongseok Shin has held demonstrations around South Korea.
A recent one was held outside the National Assembly after a local politician declared that some dogs are “pets” and others are “edible.” In another demonstration, Shin dressed in a yellow hazmat suit to warn that the next pandemic might be spawned inside a dog meat farm.
Shin feels that dogs are not here for us but with us as friends and family.
Isolated Individual Spends Time Helping Animals
When Misaki Takahashi was in self-isolation, she spent her time doing what she most wanted to do: help animals. The dedicated activist contacted local groups to offer to volunteer her time to help animals.
With groups eager to take up her offer, Misaki assisted with translations in order to help reach a larger Japanese audience. She helped manage podcasts, and has been vital in the work against using battery cages for hens in egg farms.
PETA has also been lucky to receive the help of many volunteers during the lockdown.
We’d like to acknowledge the following individuals for their kind help with our campaign to end live-animal markets: Ryan Coughlin, Swanya Buddhavana, Yasril Laery, Kataklo Otto, Bisant Kaur Yookarajah, Areej Khassawneh, Sreyneang Chhern, Otto Kalalo, Ellison Huang, Lan Lo, ChiaPei Chang, Jai and Mai Greenwood.
You Can Help, Too!
Bravo to all these people who’ve managed to do great work during the pandemic. If they’ve inspired you to stop watching TV, at least temporarily, and start helping animals, check out PETA’s Everyday Activism page and consider what you can do to help.