How to Help Dogs and Cats Affected by the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria · The Wildest

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How to Help Dogs and Cats Affected by the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Here is a list of orgs sending resources, so you can help from where you are.

by Avery Felman and Hilary Weaver
February 9, 2023
Photo: Aydin Arik / Anadolu Agency / Getty

On Monday, Turkey experienced a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 21,000 people, per the most recent reporting from The Guardian. The epicenter of the disaster was just 50 miles west of the Syrian border, with the brunt of the damage taking place in northwestern Syria, where citizens have already been displaced by the ongoing conflict in the region. The earthquake and its 317 aftershocks have exacerbated the already dire humanitarian crisis occurring in Syria, leaving people without adequate food, shelter, and basic necessities as temperatures nosedive below freezing.

While natural disasters are frighteningly unpredictable, there is some evidence to suggest that animals are attuned to events like this and may have even sensed the quake in Turkey before it took place. The sensitivity of animals can also aid humanitarian efforts; the U.S. has sent six specially trained dogs, along with nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and structural engineers to Turkey to aid search and rescue efforts. India, Taiwan, Switzerland, Poland, Croatia, and Germany have also sent rescue dogs to assist with locating people and animals trapped in the rubble. Mexico even deployed its search-and-rescue teams, complete with 16 handlers and their pups, to Turkey. 

So that you can help from where you are, we’ve included a list of organizations that have begun efforts to send resources to the animals of Turkey and Syria.

Ernesto’s Sanctuary for Cats in Syria

Ernesto’s Sanctuary, a nonprofit rescue organization and cat sanctuary in the northwestern area of Syria, is asking for donations to help with evacuation tools as they help to rescue animals who are trapped following the earthquake. In a February 8 Facebook post, they wrote, “We realized that we need the excavation tools because under the rubble there is full of stories yet to be discovered, so starting tomorrow morning we will go digging and looking for the animals. We will give hospitality to every animal in need. Whether it’s temporary or permanent. We are the only organization who work to take care of the animals in the earthquake areas so we can only give our best.”

On their website, Ernesto’s says they are home to more than 1,800 cats, and they have a free veterinary clinic in Aleppo, Syria, where residents can bring their cats to be treated by vets and a nursing team. Ernesto’s started with one man who was feeding cats in the middle of Aleppo and is reportedly the first organization of its kind in the area.

You can donate to their PayPal, via their U.S. partner, Gunther’s Family. Ernesto’s has asked that you not include the words “Syria” or “Aleppo” in your memo alongside your donation. They are posting updates on their Instagram page.

Please be aware that this organization has reported a scam Instagram account, with the handle @ernestossanctuaryfor, that is advertising a false PayPal link. Please do not send money to that account, and always make sure you’re sending money to a legitimate organization following natural disasters like this.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

On February 7, IFAW posted that they are preparing to send emergency support to local organizations in Syria and Turkey. They noted that they are working with Ernesto’s, as they have in the past, to get them the support they need and added that they will continue to identify ways supporters can help; please keep checking their site for more information.

Pets in Turkey (PIT)

PIT is a Swiss-based organization that is focused on helping stray pets in Turkey. Their website points to the problem of stray animals in Turkey — a concerning issue even before these recent events. PIT began in 2017, and the org is working with fellow nonprofit Raise Your Paw to send resources to animals in need, with the help of Izmir, Turkey-based pet service, Yuuki Dog House & Training.

PIT was able to send 450 kilograms of dog dry food, 225 kilograms of cat dry food, and eight boxes of wet food on Tuesday and is continuing their efforts to help. You can send funds to Raise Your Paw via Paypal at or donate to PIT below.

The Wildest will continue to report relief efforts and detail how you can help with them. If you know of orgs who are helping, please DM us on Instagram here (@thewildestsite).

Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is a writer and producer. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. When she’s not at her computer, you can find her reading, practicing her Greek on Duolingo, and delving into the Sex and the City discourse. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their cat, Chicken, who rules with an iron fist.

Hilary Weaver

Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair from 2016 to 2019, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She lives with her herding pups, Georgie and Charlie.

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