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American Humane Association Mobilizes to Help Animals in Path of Hurricane Irene

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Charity Offers Tips to Help Keep Children and Pets Safe

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 26, 2011 -- Following storm tracking on their mobile command center within the 82-foot rescue truck that houses 12 specially trained staff and volunteers, American Humane Association is driving its famed Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services team into position to be ready to help animals that may need rescue or shelter from Hurricane Irene.

Red Star has a nearly century-long legacy of animal relief, beginning with a Federal request to help wounded horses on WWI European battlefronts, now a theme in Broadway’s “War Horse.” Today, Red Star first-responder teams provide on-the-ground rescue and support services to State and local agencies and shelters by official invitation. The largest truck in the Red Star convoy carries 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. These animals may range from family pets in need of temporary shelter if their families must evacuate their homes to animals rescued from dangerous conditions.

Just recently, Red Star teams have served animal needs in Joplin, MO after its tornado, and animals in the flooded cities of Memphis, TN, and in Minot, North Dakota.  
Even as the Red Star 82-foot truck drives toward North Carolina from its Denver home base, American Humane Association President Dr. Robin R. Ganzert waits out the hurricane on her North Carolina farm. “It’s very important that families, and especially children, know that we will help keep their animals safe and sound should there be a need evacuate homes,” she says. “Before, during, and after a storm, it’s important to know what to do to keep children and pets safe.”

To that end, American Humane Association has prepared these tips:

Before the storm

  • Tie down or anchor outside objects that might fly about and injure someone. 
  • Bring children and pets inside; bring outdoor animals inside with a carrier ready large enough to turn around and lie down comfortably. 
  • Review your evacuation plan and double-check emergency supplies, bowls, water, food. 
  • Have a carrier at the ready. 
  • If your family must evacuate, take your pets with you.

During the storm….if you cannot evacuate

  • Choose a safe room for riding out the storm—an interior room without windows – and take your entire family there, including your pets.
  • Stay with pets. If crated, they depend on you for food and water.
  • Keep your emergency kit in that room with you (food, water, litter, meds).
  • Know your pet’s hiding places. That’s where they may run; keep them with you.
  • Secure exits and cat doors so pets can’t escape into the storm.
  • Do not tranquilize your pets. They’ll need their survival instincts should the storm require that.

After the storm

  • Make sure the storm has fully passed before going outside and assess damages before allowing children or animals out.
  • Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier, and children close at hand. Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets and sharp debris could harm them.
  • Give pets time to become re-oriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause a pet to become confused or lost.
  • Keep kids and animals away from downed power lines and water that may be contaminated.
  • Keep an eye on children’s emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.
  • Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their home.

“Our hearts go out to the thousands of people and animals in the path of this developing disaster,” says Dr.    Ganzert. “This year has held some of the most devastating weather on record. To those in need we will bring a century of experience and all of our resources in animal rescue. Help is on the way.”

For more news about the Red Star team’s emergency work during these disasters, please go to


Where the American Humane Association Red Star™ team will be:

  • Friday to Sunday: Staging at 1025 Blue Ridge Blvd, Fairgrounds, Raleigh, NC
  • Sunday: Moving to Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center, Williamston, NC


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