No immediate permit to rescue the animals
About 250 sheep were left behind when the eruption started. After the first evacuation of Grindavík in November following a series of earthquakes, all remaining animals were moved out of town.
The fact that some livestock owners decided to return their animals to Grindavík in December caused public criticism, also from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority MAST. For some farmers, finding new shelter for their animals has been difficult. Sigrún Eggertsdóttir told the news outlet Vísir that she only found a temporary solution for her 30 sheep and did not have a choice but to bring the animals back to the town.
Initially, the animals left behind in a rushed evacuation just hours before the eruption were not designated a priority by officials. The Icelandic Animal Welfare Organisation started a campaign on social media, raising alarm after seeing that expensive machinery was moved out of Grindavík, but no permit for rescuing the sheep was issued. On January 16, officials finally allowed the livestock owners to enter the town and evacuate their sheep from the site of danger.