First response for animal disaster victims

by American Humane Association

Thanks to your generous donations to American Humane Association, dogs, cats, and other animals were not forgotten prior to, during, and after Hurricane Sandy.  In fact, they got “Red Star” treatment.

Indeed, American Humane Association’s legendary Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services team was on the scene in the Northeast corridor for several weeks providing essential rescue, treatment, and shelter services, as well as emergency food, supplies, and medicine.

It is estimated that 30 million pets were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Animal shelters were hit particularly hard, many losing electricity and unable to maintain or replenish their food supplies and other necessities and because
of an influx of animals from families being evacuated and losing their homes in the storm of the century.

Red Star Rescue significantly softened the blow.  American Humane Association joined forces with MARS Petcare US, Pfizer Animal Health, and Cat’s Pride cat litter to donate over 100,000 pounds of emergency food, supplies, and medicines to animal shelters in Bergen County and Atlantic County, two of the most devastated areas of New Jersey. MARS Petcare US, the maker of PEDIGREE® dog food, WHISKAS® cat food, and ROYAL CANIN® dog and cat food, is a supporter of the Red Star program. Pfizer Animal Health has long worked with American Humane Association on groundbreaking projects designed to improve the welfare, wellness and well-being of both children and animals. Cat’s Pride© cat litter has a long history of partnering and supporting the mission of the American Humane Association with every purchase of its products. Logistics were provided by Rescue Bank, Mars Petcare's partner for donation shipment. Rescue Bank manages a nationwide network of non-profit distribution centers delivering donated pet food to rescues, shelters and social service agencies.

American Humane Association’s services were requested by the shelters and invited by officials in those areas, as well as in Staten Island, New York.  Prince Lorenzo Borghese, one of the organization’s national ambassadors, and Georgina Bloomberg, a champion equestrienne, ardent animal welfare advocate, and daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, came out to meet and help unload the tractor trailers filled with the donated goods.

But even before Hurricane Sandy obliterated so much of the Eastern seaboard, the American Humane Association’s Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services team put its 100 years of expertise into action.  Following storm tracking on its mobile command center in the 82-foot Rescue Rig that serves as a base and housing for its specially trained staff and volunteers, the team drove into position to be ready to help animals that may have needed rescue or shelter from the deadly storm, as well as the nor'easter that followed quickly behind.

A Red Star team of a dozen staff and volunteers staged in an area in eastern Pennsylvania, in preparation for emergency rescue work throughout the region.  The 82-foot truck and its convoy of chase vehicles carry rescue boats, a hoist, food and medical supplies, snap-together kennels for extending or creating animal shelters, food bowls and other items to keep animals safe and cared for.

“With 62% of U.S. households owning a pet, the need to include animals in emergency plans was – and remains – greater than ever,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and chief executive officer.  “Pets form an integral part of American families, and numerous disasters have proven that people will not evacuate from dangerous situations if they believe that they cannot take their pet along or if they feel they do not have a safe place to shelter their pet until they can return home.”

Dr. Ganzert explained that while local, county, and state agencies have protocols for human safety, many have not considered the safety of animals, or what the lack of animal safety can mean for people.

“The failure to include the needs of animals in emergency plans and response efforts not only puts animals at risk of hazards, injuries, disease, and death, but has also been directly related to evacuation failures and serious lapses in public safety,” she said.

To meet this need, Red Star assists agencies and communities with animal emergency planning, volunteer training, and disaster response efforts for animals.

The Red Star Animal Emergency Services program began in 1916, when the Secretary of War asked American Humane Association to care for horses wounded in battle. Since then, Red Star has led hundreds of emergency efforts, serving in the aftermath of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and other significant events challenging local communities' resources, including animal hoarding, cruelty cases, and puppy mill seizures.

Red Star has had tremendous outcomes in recent years, with 68,800 animals saved and sheltered in the past five years alone, and 21,999 volunteer and 12,737 response staff hours in major deployments in the same time period.

For more information on American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services program, visit . To support their efforts please go to or text HUMANE to 80888 to give $10.

And please check out this video slideshow of the touching work American Humane Association has accomplished - 


Second Chance Skipper
Second Chance Skipper

This summer was an exciting one for American Humane Association's Red Star Rescue teams. 

In June, we responded to the worst wildfires in Colorado history, helping more than 200 animals find their way back home. As part of a coordinated response to the fires, Red Star was invited by the State of Colorado to deploy as an approved first-responder to assist pets in need and to help provide emergency rescue operations, sheltering and much-needed care to these innocent animal victims.

In July, The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston, Maine reached out to American Humane Association's Second Chance® Fund to help a cat named Skipper.  Skipper’s right front paw was caught in an illegal steel leg-hold hunting trap.  Not only were the bones crushed, a very deep wound visibly showed tendons and bone.  Also, due to the length of time he was in the woods in the trap, the wounds were quite infected.  Since the paw was without blood flow for so long, it was unable to be saved and amputation was the only option. The Second Chance grant paid for the surgery and amputation.  Skipper has fully recovered and is now enjoying his forever home with two feline sisters.

Five therapy dogs and their handlers, including American Humane Association’s National Director of Animal-Assisted Therapy Amy McCullough and her therapy dog, Bailey, attended a military family retreat August 17-20 at Black Mountain, North Carolina. This Operation Purple® family retreat, one of eight operated nationwide by the National Military Family Association, is designed to help families reconnect after experiencing the stresses surrounding a deployment.  Watch the video here:

With the great help of our GlobalGiving supporters we are excited to do ever more in the weeks and months ahead.  Thank you so much for your support!

Colorado Springs Community Response Team shelter
Colorado Springs Community Response Team shelter


In 2011 our Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services teams were on the scene helping animals and communities following the floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. Over the past five years, our teams saved, rescued and sheltered 64,100 animals caught in natural disasters.

With 332 tornadoes already recorded in 2012 this year's season of storms promises to be an active one. In April alone, 15 devastating tornadoes tore through Texas, tossing semi trucks through the air. Ten days later in Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa were barraged by tornadoes during a rare four-day storm that left destruction and death in its path.

Thanks to you, American Humane Association's Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services team has been on the scene, lending their experience and helping hands to the victims of disasters. Our Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services teams would like to respond to every emergency, perhaps one in your hometown, and your donations make a difference.

AHA's CEO in Tokyo, 1 yr later still offering help

In the past year, a record number of devastating natural disasters utterly destroyed homes and entire communities, putting people and animals in harm's way and separating lost and frightened pets from the families who love them.

Disasters like these:

  • The deadly tornado in Joplin, Mo., where we sheltered more than 1,300 homeless and displaced pets.
  • The storms in the South, including Memphis, Tenn., where we rescued 50 helpless animals from floodwater.
  • The Souris River flooding in Minot, N.D., where we helped shelter and care for more than 300 displaced animals.
  • The path of destruction left by Hurricane Irene in North Carolina, where we searched for displaced or injured pets along the Pamlico River.
  • And the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan that devastated and impacted huge areas and left thousands of people and pets homeless.

But your donation made a difference.

Thanks to you, a star of hope shone brightly through the chaos, confusion, and fear. A star on the uniform of the caring responders who are distinguished by their experienced, helping hands, their sympathetic faces, and their gentle voices of compassion — American Humane Association's Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services team.

Our Red Star first responders are always ready and willing to deploy at a moment's notice to rescue, shelter, and protect animals from harm. Our Red Star team provided resources, hands-on support, or both, at all of these major disaster scenes to help thousands of animals.


Dogs in Memphis awaiting rescue.
Dogs in Memphis awaiting rescue.

Thank you so much for your support of our Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services program through Animal Planet’s R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond) campaign! Every donation we received in September and October went twice as far toward rescuing and sheltering animal disaster victims.

Whenever disaster strikes, our hearts, minds and resources focus on the animals and families that are suffering as a result. In the last few months alone, our Red Star team has been busy rescuing animals from disasters such as: flooding in Minot, N.D.; tornado strike in Joplin, Mo., and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in N.C. None of this is possible without YOUR support!

The donations you gave for R.O.A.R. and that you continue to give all year, help us keep our specialized, tractor-trailer Rescue Rig stocked and our volunteers ready so we can respond at a moment’s notice when disaster strikes.

Our friends at Quiznos want to thank you as well! They are offering you a special coupon for your support of American Humane Association and our Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services efforts! Click here to get your coupon!

Thank you again for helping animals who aren’t able to help themselves.

P.S. Watch us on Hallmark Channel on Friday, Nov. 11! Tune in at 8 p.m. / 7 Central to see the broadcast premiere of the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ sponsored by cesar® canine cuisine.

Our Rescue Rig.
Our Rescue Rig.



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Organization Information

American Humane Association

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
American Humane Association
Project Leader:
Jessie Salpeter
Washington, DC United States

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