BRASILIA - Animal rights groups and veterinarians have launched a campaign to save animals affected by Brazil's devastating floods and landslides, which have killed more than 625 people, organizers said Sunday.
The effort will consist of "a team that specializes in rescuing animals in major disasters arriving from Costa Rica, (and) another group of veterinarians that works with injured animals" including dogs, cats, and horses, veterinarian Margarida de Oliveria told AFP.
She said a field hospital would be set up in the affected region on Monday. Specialists from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), who worked in Haiti after last year's earthquake, are also coordinating efforts out of nearby Rio de Janeiro.
"We know there are many animals living in deplorable situations... abandoned without food, and with injuries. We know the priority is to save lives of humans, but we will not abandon them," WSPA member Solange Ribeiro said.
A photo that has gone viral on the internet in recent days, by AFP photographer Vanderlei Almedia, shows a dog named Leao - which means "Lion" in English - sitting patiently for a second straight day next to the grave of her owner, Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, who died in the catastrophic landslides.
The Brazilian military meanwhile Sunday was sending troops and helicopters to rescue stranded survivors in the mountains near Rio de Janeiro, but the operation was still being stymied by more bad weather.