When news first surfaced about the magnitude of the recent tsunami disaster in Asia, people were stunned at the loss of life in the surrounding areas.
But while most thought about humans, the Humane Education Programs (HEP) focused on the loss of animals in the affected region.
Wade Beane, a Brookfield resident who is the director for the HEP, traveled to Sri Lanka last month with Noah’s Wish, an international animal disaster organization.
Beane, who has a B.A. in humanities from Beloit College and a M.S. in outdoor education from Northern Illinois University, spent 16 days overseas and joined forces with local veterinarians. Together they formed a program that provided food and vaccinations for animals living in relief camps and devastated villages.
HEP is a non-for-profit agency focused on encouraging kindness and empathy for both human and non-human animals. It promotes understanding of diverse habitats and making the world a more humane place.
“Where the tsunami hit, it was complete devastation,” said Beane, who has more than 10 years of education-programming experience. “But once you got a good mile away from the coast, it wasn’t all that bad. This was my first international relief effort, so there was a little fear.”
According to Beane, the magnitude of the disaster left no part of society untouched. The animal relief operation was overwhelmingly supported by the local government, human-aid organizations and health-care officials in Asia.
The main goal of heading to Sri Lanka was to stop the government’s proposed eradication of dogs. Government officials feared for human health, and felt that the purging of all dogs would help ease the concern.
But it was decided that if local services could coordinate with one another to administer rabies vaccinations to more than 70 percent of the dogs on Sri Lanka then the suppression could be put on hold.
With that in mind, an international gathering of animal welfare organizations partnered with local veterinarians to help the animals in the surrounding areas.
Between Jan. 8-23, Beane spent countless hours doing whatever he could to help aid the relief efforts. The assistance provided to the animals will result in long-term benefits for the entire nation. Animals were treated for skin conditions and major health ailments, and also received food.
Beane pointed out that for those who lived through the disaster and responded to the call for aid will not soon be forgotten.
“There were so many people that came to that area from all parts of the world to help,” Beane said. “The instant you got off the plane, the government did whatever you needed to make things easier.
“Our group worked with the major local veterinarians to help the animals. I met people from different Red Cross Agencies and religious groups from all over the world. Together we were able to help a lot.”
The HEP put together a presentation to help children and adults understand the crippling effect this and other disasters have had on the world.
In addition to the tsunami relief effort, HEP also helps educate children and adults on the responsibilities necessary to ensure the welfare and companion and wildlife animals. It shares the opinions of animal and civil rights organizations in a non-threatening manner, and encourages free thought and the development of personal values within the field of humane education.
Beane will be speaking about his experience in Asia at the LaGrange Public Library on March 14 at 7 p.m.
“I do plan on going back,” Beane said. “I have to raise $1,500 for a plane ticket. Once I do that, I’ll be able to get back over there to double check and see how their programs are working.”
Additional information may be obtained by calling 387-1101 or visiting humaneedu.com.