Red Star deploys to save starving horses in Tennessee

One neglected animal is one too many. When there are 19, it can feel overwhelming.

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Shortly after dawn yesterday morning, at the request of the District Attorney General for Tennessee’s 25th Judicial District, our nine Red Star team members along with Fayette County Animal Control, sheriff’s deputies, a local veterinarian and volunteers deployed to a private facility in Whiteville, Tennessee to rescue and transport 19 allegedly abused animals – 18 horses and one mule – to a temporary shelter.

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“the animals were so hungry, they had stripped the bark off the trees”

Due to starvation and extreme neglect, 15 of the 18 rescued horses are currently in critical condition. Sadly, at least five other horses are known to be dead. Our team discovered that the animals were so hungry, they had stripped the bark off the trees on the property, hoping to get what nutrients they could.

Two of the horses are on IV fluids, and the rest are being calmed and fed while Red Star team members work to get them strong enough for eventual placement with a long-term facility. Volunteers will feed, groom and care for these wonderful animals with the help of medical treatment by Dr. Jennifer Dunlap, a local veterinarian who has worked with Red Star before. Dr. Dunlap has even graciously agreed to adopt one of these horses.

Josh Cary, a Red Star staff member has deployed with the team countless times, and said these are some of the worst conditions he’s ever seen. He said that many of the horses were just “skin and bones.”

“It’s just heartbreaking to see how scared and malnourished these animals are,” said Dr. Dunlap.  “From foals to adults, their condition is critical.”

This is the second time in as many years Red Star has deployed to Fayette County. In 2012, we responded to take care of 141 hungry, thirsty and frightened dogs rescued from the back of a U-Haul trailer.

Sadly, we know that this will not be the last time our Red Star team deploys to help in a suspected cruelty case like this.

Please make a donation today so that our team members have the resources to work day and night to rehabilitate these animals so they are strong enough to eventually move on to long-term care – and so that we can continue to be there for all animals in need.

The Key to Saving Animals from Disasters

American Humane Association’s Red Star™ Emergency Services program has been responding to natural and man-made disasters for nearly a century.  Since the time of Red Star’s inception in 1916 to help animals used by the U.S. Army during WWI, we have had a long record of accomplishments and actions on a national—and even international—scale.

Moore, OK Deployment

Moore, OK Deployment

In fact, after an EF-5 tornado with winds in excess of 210 mph ravaged parts of Moore, Oklahoma last spring our Red Star Emergency Services team was there to help. With boots on the ground just days after the devastating tornado, our team worked feverishly with local, state and national organizations to help restore hope through an outpouring of compassion. From walking dogs and cleaning kennels to helping rescue animals from unbelievable scenes of despair, our teams provided the type of services that the Moore community so desperately needed following the horrible disaster.

Our work isn’t just about response and recovery, however. It’s also about preparedness. Quite simply, the key to helping keep pets safe during or after a disaster – large or small – is adequate preparedness.

But with the traditional severe weather season approaching quickly, you don’t have to be a “Doomsday Prepper” to help keep your pets safe. And sometimes, even basic measures could mean the difference between life and death for your pet.

Some of our basic disaster preparedness tips include:

  • NEVER leave animals behind. Know a safe place where your pets can go if you need to evacuate. Evacuation destinations may include a friend or family member’s home, going to a pet-friendly hotel, or temporarily housing your pet(s) at a boarding facility. Plan multiple routes to your safe destination.
  • Always keep your pets’ vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Be sure that all ID tags are properly affixed to your pet’s collar and that they have your current contact information, including cell number(s).
  • Update your microchip registrations and pet license information to ensure its current and consider including the name and contact information of an out-of-area contact just in case you are unreachable in a disaster zone.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit complete with leashes, collars, extra ID tags, water, food, medications, sanitation materials (i.e. litter and litter box), health/immunization records, and photos to prove ownership. Keep a minimum of 3 days supplies; ideally have 7-10 days supplies.
  • Have portable carriers large enough for your pets to stand-up and turn around in ready to go at a moment’s notice. Practice loading cats and dogs in pet carriers before you have to.
  • Prepare a pet first-aid kit, including your veterinarian’s contact information and an authorization to treat your pets.
  • Don’t leave pets in vehicles. Don’t leave pets tethered or crated without you.

Now is the time to prepare, because when disaster is imminent – it may already be too late.

An Animal Shelter on the Brink

Our legendary Red Star™ Emergency Services team has been on the ground in Milford, New Jersey assisting the New Jersey SPCA with a response to help some 200 neglected animals at a shelter that lost its way. Our team has been doing everything from cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the facility to walking dogs and helping to start the shelter animals on the road to their new lives – as a member of a loving family.

DSC_0306To see the changes that have been made since we first arrived is truly and utterly amazing. People who I have spoken to are touched by the great progress and I’ve seen numerous people brought to tears as they become overwhelmed by emotion because they have worried for so long about the animals at this shelter.

Many of the animals who have been at this shelter have been here for years. One cat, Egypt, who had been here over a decade when we arrived, has clearly spent most of her life inside the walls of this facility. I’m happy to report however that thanks to other wonderful shelters and rescue groups who have also responded to the call for help, Egypt is now on her own special road to recovery.

One person who has been volunteering at this shelter for four years told me that she wished “corporations could turn around this fast” as we spoke about the progress. But our long days and hard work don’t stop at just procedural changes, building improvements and recommendations.

DSC_0316___2Any time you go on a response, you develop a connection with the animals you’re helping – it’s why we do what we do – because we want to help animals in need. One such connection our team made was with a beautiful pit bull named Nautilus. Referred to as a “big teddy bear,” he simply loves to snuggle under his blanket at night, comforted by the intervention that he and his buddies so desperately needed.

I cannot say enough about our responders and our partners like Red Rover. We all have been working extremely hard to help make a positive impact here. Our responders, coming to New Jersey from all over the country – and from all walks of life – have literally been scrubbing kennels on their hands and knees, cleaning walls, floors, doors, drains and all the while showing love, compassion and empathy to these beautiful animals – the voiceless victims in this situation.

Our team has committed so much over the last couple of weeks to this community, all simply to help make the improvements that have been needed here for so long. But ultimately, if it weren’t for the great people who support our vital work, we wouldn’t have been able to show these animals or this shelter the way in their time of greatest need.


American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Visit American Humane Association at and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Do You Have the Wrong Idea About Animal Shelters?

977064_10151846169352454_229301209_oMany people who are looking for a new pet avoid animal shelters for various reasons. If fact, I’ve found over the years that many avoid shelters simply because of common misperceptions. In turn, these false impressions feed into the negative stereotype of shelters that places countless animal lives in jeopardy – animals that undoubtedly would make wonderful new family companions.

The recent article, Busting Animal Shelter Myths, explores many of the myths surrounding animal shelters. In the article, the writer, Jaime Lynn Smith, debunks ten shelter myths including, “All shelter pets available for pet adoption are old” and “Shelter pets usually have behavioral problems or are imperfect.”

It’s estimated that between 5 to 8 million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters each year – many through no fault of their own. And most people I talk to are completely oblivious of the number of animals their local shelters care for on any given day, month or year – and how hard they work on behalf of animals.

The reality is that most shelters and rescues work passionately to help animals in need. They work relentlessly to rescue animals from abandonment, neglect, natural disasters and cruelty, and help provide them with the second chance at a new life they so greatly deserve.

Want to help your local shelter and animals in your community right now? Here are just a few simple ways you can help:

  • Adopt from a shelter or rescue group
  • Encourage others to adopt
  • Practice responsible pet ownership
  • Spay or neuter your pet
  • Microchip, license and ID your pet(s)
  • Support your local shelter through volunteerism, supplies and donations
  • Donate to the local pet food bank to help keep pets in homes
  • Advocate for the protection of animals

Finally, perhaps you adopted your pet from an awesome shelter or rescue group? Maybe you even work or volunteer with a great animal shelter or rescue? If so, join us today, on Facebook and give your favorite shelter or rescue group a virtual shout-out!

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Visit American Humane Association at and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Red Star Returns to Assist Dog Rescue

113Our Red Star Emergency Services team has returned to the temporary shelter to provide ongoing support and daily care for nearly 250 dogs seized in what is believed to be the second largest dogfighting raid in U.S. history. This being our team’s second time deploying to assist the ASPCA with these particular animals all our team can say is, “What a difference compassion can make!”

Our team reports that, “In less than twelve weeks, these beautiful creatures have learned social skills, manners, and most importantly, what it means to be loved and protected. The success stories are endless!” Dogs who cowered in the corner each time a caretaker would come by their kennel are now sitting right at the door waiting for the next moment to be with their new two-legged friends. Older dogs that were used for constant breeding are now enjoying their retirement, and newborn puppies that had not yet had their eyes open are growing up nicely and are healthy, happy and playful!

Andy Bass, our Southeast region program and response specialist for Red Star Emergency Services gave this account about one dog he bonded with:

As I worked into my new routine today, one of the young puppies, who was chasing his thunderball in the exercise pen stopped in his tracks when I came near, gave me a sniff, then ran to the opposite side of the kennel. He then timidly approached me again and took another sniff. As he looked up at me and cocked his head to the side, I realized this was a withdrawn puppy from the isolation ward I had cared for three months ago. When I was here last, I would make it a point to take him out of his cage and carry him under my arm as I did my daily paperwork. Now here he was, healthy and happy, and letting me know he remembered me!

It is moments like this that remind us all of how vital our work truly is. And thanks to the supporters of American Humane Association, we will continue to provide this service to society’s most precious and vulnerable.

Oklahoma: Mission Accomplished!

Oklahoma Adoption Event – 6/23/13 from americanhumane on Vimeo.

After more than a month helping the animals and people of the Moore, Oklahoma area recover from a deadly tornado, American Humane Association’s legendary Red Star™ rescue team is finally ending its deployment and I am glad to report that the mission has been a great success. We were able to rescue and/or shelter more than 200 animals, reunite nearly 100 with their families, place some with rescues and get the rest into good, loving homes during an Adopt-a-Thon we held with the city of Moore this past weekend.

We couldn’t have received a warmer welcome from the city officials, county officials, people and press. Following the stunning destruction caused by the EF5 tornado on May 20, Red Star™ quickly mobilized a team of staff and volunteers, our 82-foot Rescue Rig and our 50-foot Lois Pope LIFE Rescue Vehicle. Responding to an invitation from Oklahoma that was secured with the help of Miranda Lambert and her MuttNation Foundation, we raced to the recovery zone, covering 2,000 combined miles in just over a day. After assessing the situation and needs for the animals, we assisted with a temporary animal shelter at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.

It was a tremendous, emotional experience – and I almost missed it. I had just been hired as the new national director for Red Star Emergency Services, and my proposed start date was July1. But on May 20 the devastating Oklahoma tornado changed everything. We knew we needed to be on the ground in Oklahoma as soon as possible, and after some quick paperwork changes and a scramble to relocate my family, we hit the road to the Sooner State. I found an amazing crew of staff and volunteers ready to save animals, and we working through 18-hour, sometimes 100-degree days together, we soon established the kind of rapport that usually takes years to build. Each and every one of the 18 Red Star workers who helped on this deployment brings a unique skill set to animal emergency situations, and all do a wonderful job of continuing the legacy of this nearly century-old program, which was started by American Humane Association during World War I when the United States War Department asked us to save wounded horses on the battlefields of Europe. Since then, Red Star has been involved with virtually every major disaster response, including Pearl Harbor, Hurricane Katrina, the Joplin tornado, the deadly earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the terror attacks on 9/11, and Superstorm Sandy.

I hope you’ll join me in offering thanks to all those who pitched in to help the animals of Oklahoma in their time of greatest need: Mars Petcare US, makers of PEDIGREE® Food for Dogs and WHISKAS® Food for Cats, sponsored the deployment of the giant Rescue Rig and donated emergency food supplies. Banfield Pet Hospital offered veterinary assistance, along with Zoetis Commitment to Veterinarians, which offered vitally needed medicines. Thank you also to philanthropist Lois Pope for donating our newest 50-foot rescue vehicle; actress, entrepreneur and author Victoria Principal for her personal and public support of the effort, and country music star Miranda Lambert and her MuttNation Foundation for helping secure the official invitation needed to provide emergency operations in Oklahoma. We’d like to thank Backstage Coaches for providing a tour bus to give our team much-needed showers and cool catnaps during the long, hot days in Oklahoma. And thanks to PetSmart Charities and Code 3 Associates for supplying and delivering much-needed extra crates. We are also very grateful for our partners who assisted on the ground with operations including NACA, Red Rover, Code 3 Associates, and IFAW. And finally, thank you to all our supporters who sent in the donations that made our deployment to help these animals possible. Because of you, some 200 animals who were desperate, scared, and in trouble are now safe, sound and in loving homes. Thank you. Your help is much appreciated!

I’d like to conclude today by thanking the people of Oklahoma for their hospitality and help during this trying time; we know that the road to recovery may be long, but the spirit and generosity of the people there will prevail. We wish you (and the many new pet owners who took in our grateful animals) all the best!

>>Click here to view images from Red Star’s Oklahoma deployment.

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