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The death toll is staggering.

Nepalese frantically search for still missing loved ones. Fear and uncertainty grip the survivors, as they wonder how their country’s decimated infrastructure can maintain the health and well-being of millions of people displaced or affected by the devastating earthquake last weekend.

It breaks my heart to know that so many are suffering.

As I watch the news unfold, I am moved by the stories of human beings’ compassion toward each other.

We’ve learned a lot as a global community regarding how to address the needs of the people affected by a rapid succession of massive storms, flooding, droughts, wildfires and earthquakes across the last decade.

We have learned how to better communicate, better plan, better cooperate during these events. I have heard about this first-hand from our talented network of disaster relief responders, who are intimately connected with many noble human aid organizations.

Of course the necessary first focus must be on getting food, water, shelter, medical treatment and supplies to those who need it.

At the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as an organization focused on rescuing and protecting animals, in each and every instance we recognize the immediate humanitarian needs must be addressed before we enter a disaster zone.

That said, there is growing recognition among governments of a fact that our supporters have known for years—for many people, pets and farm animals are like family members.

If those animals are missing or injured, they need to be found or treated, quickly and effectively. If people are unable to care for their animals during a crisis, that’s where we can step in to help animals, which in turn helps the people who care for them.

In times of tragedy, human beings find solace in the knowledge that their companion and farm animals are safe and not suffering. Reuniting people with their pets or livestock can provide that much needed spark of motivation to overcome the overwhelming grief and make strides toward self-maintenance.

The work we do in the wake of tragedies is important, not only from an animal welfare perspective, but a human welfare perspective.

We encourage the global community to give directly to human relief in Nepal, you can trust and donate to any of the organizations listed in this New York Times piece.

As always, if you agree by helping animals you’re also helping the people who care for them, you can donate to IFAW to help with animal rescue and recovery efforts.

As always, thank you for your support.

Your support can help people and animals, donate now.

Click here for a list of humanitarian organizations working in Nepal.

(This article originally appeared on IFAW. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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