L'AQUILA, Italy – Help started to arrive Thursday for the more than 2,000 cats and dogs believed to have been left homeless by the earthquake in Italy.
The national animal protection agency, ENPA, said seven tons of feed had been delivered to L'Aquila for both domestic and farm animals.
Many pets and farm animals are believed to have died in houses and barns that collapsed during the quake Monday. Those that survived are showing signs of trauma, rescue officials said.
When the earthquake hit, the first thing Maria Grazia Broberzi grabbed was her cat, Pallina.
The cat now sits in a cage in the tent she shares with her owner in a camp on the outskirts of the devastated city of L'Aquila. She has refused to eat or drink since the quake. Every time Broberzi approaches, Pallina hisses and growls.
"She never did this before," Broberzi said. "Sometimes we argued over who got the couch, but she was always affectionate."
At least 2,000 cats and dogs are believed lost in L'Aquila alone, said Silvia Damiani, an animal rights official from Bracciano, north of Rome.
Fausto Cavalieri, a veterinary student with the Red Cross, was working at tent city outside L'Aquila, which houses 1,700 people, unloading dog and cat food from trucks. The supplies also included materials to build kennels and computer chip readers to identify animals in the effort to reunite them with their owners.
"There are people who lost their animals, and animals who lost their owners," Cavalieri said.
Iolanda and Sandrino Tarquini, a couple in their 70's living now in the camp, were mourning their dog, a 10-year-old black pincher named Pisolo who died Thursday morning.
The couple could not get Pisolo his medication because the vet's office was destroyed by the quake. And they believe the rain and chill in the tent city contributed to his death.
"He had a coat but he wasn't wearing it," said Sandrino, as his wife cried.
Agricultural officials are beginning to assess the loss of farm animals. Cavalieri said many sheep and other farm animals were abandoned and will probably starve if they cannot be reached.
He said he had already seen 200 hundred sheep crushed in a collapsed stall.
The Italian farm association Coldiretti said it was too soon to give an assessment of how many animals had been lost.
Late Wednesday evening in L'Aquila, a Yorkshire terrier walked in circles, ignoring a policeman's offer of a sandwich.
"I see a lot of these poor dogs," said the officer, Carlo Chipa. "You can tell they are domestic pets because they are healthy and well-fed, but they look lost and frightened."