Thanks 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 has been on the scene in the Northeast corridor for the past two 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. This week, 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.
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.