As a grieving Beirut rebuilds its homes, businesses and lives, some Good Samaritans are making sure that one group of vulnerable residents are not forgotten.
More than 190 volunteers have been scouring the streets of the blast-damaged city for lost pets.
They search for animals trapped in the rubble, tend to the injured and care for those whose owners died, according to Jason Mier, the executive director at Animals Lebanon.
But the best part is when they’re able to reunited pets with their owners.
“Everybody is at a loss for words because you feel everything but you also feel a bit of nothing at the same time,” Mier told CNN. “It’s nice that we’re able to bring a bit of joy back to people after those same people have lost almost everything, it makes it worthwhile.”
Animals Lebanon’s office is about 2.5 miles away from the site of Tuesday’s explosion.
The blast blew out several windows; the shards of glass injured the animals, Mier said.
“There were bloody prints everywhere by the time we could make it to the office,” he said.
Typically, five people staff Animals Lebanon. But since the blast, the number of volunteers has swelled as residents look for ways to help one another.
Mier says the group is relying on international donations to buy supplies and food for injured animals in their care, as well as safety equipment for their volunteer
With a bigger group involved now, he said the team is working around the clock in the most affected areas.
It’s a heartbreaking sight.
“The city is just so dirty, there’s glass everywhere, trash isn’t being picked up, there’s electric and water problems, you can’t access your money in the bank, it’s a pretty impossible situation,” Mier said. “I don’t understand how the people and the country are going to recover from this.”
The other day, volunteers found a cat stuck inside a car. It took a few days to reunite it with its owner.
“Oh my God, oh my God,” the woman bawled, cradling the cat in her arms.
“I’ve been looking everywhere.”
Bloodied and bruised, Beirut has a long way to go toward a semblance of normally. But moments like this is what fills these volunteers with hope and with a determination to carry on.