About Animal Emergency Services

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History

American Humane Association began doing animal relief in 1916, by accepting an invitation of the War Department to help animals used by the U.S. Army during WWI. The invitation resulted in the development of the American Red Star Animal Relief Program known today as Animal Emergency Services.

 

1916 – American Red Star Animal Relief
Secretary of War Newton D. Baker wrote to American Humane Association President Dr. William O. Stillman requesting aid for animals injured in the war, similar to the aid Red Cross gives for people. This invitation established American Red Star Animal Relief, now known as the Red Star® Animal Emergency Services program.
1916 – Dr. William O. Stillman, President
Although American Humane Association is against violence, we recognized the possibility of the United States entering the war and the need for animal relief. In 1916, American Humane Association President Dr. William O. Stillman founded American Red Star Animal Relief, now known as Red Star® Animal Emergency Services.
1916 – First-Aid for Horses pamphlet for soldiers
During World War I, Red Star organized national fundraising campaigns for animal relief, wrote and published a pamphlet about First-Aid for Horses, and distributed the pamphlet to soldiers.
1916 – Veterinary care at Army camps
During World War I, Red Star workers helped with veterinary care at Army camps in the United States.
1916 – Veterinary supply distribution
When Army camps in the United States ran out of veterinary supplies during World War I, Red Star local branches helped re-stock them.
1916 – Red Star Uncle Sam war poster
During World War I, we promoted our Red Star animal relief programs with this poster, created by James Montgomery Flagg, who also created the famous Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster.
1920 – Yellowstone elk saved from starvation
In 1920, the elk in Yellowstone National Park were in danger of starvation after a severe drought and a long winter. Tepartment of the Interior and the director of the National Park Service asked American Humane Association for help. We donated $1,500 worth of elk feed, just in time to save the animals’ lives.
1938 – New England hurricane and flood response
In 1938, a hurricane and flooding devastated New England, hitting Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Our Red Star eastern regional director organized workers to rescue and shelter animals and to reunite them with their owners.
1940s – Helping civilian animals during World War II
In contrast to World War I, relatively few horses and mules were used in the fighting of World War II. So, instead of helping animals on the battlefield, our Red Star efforts focused on civilian animals, helping humane societies prepare for air raids. We provided first-aid classes to teach people how to care for animals during war and peace.
1940s – Instructions for animal care during World War II
During World War II, we produced Red Star instruction booklets on the care of civilian animals during bombing. Modeled after literature from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the materials were recognized by the national Civilian Defense and considered an authoritative resource for animal care during war time.
1969 – Response to Gulf Coast's Hurricane Camille
“Stranded livestock, pigs in swamps, hungry chickens, pet animals running at large” — this was scene after Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969, according to The National Humane Review. Red Star responders were the first to reach the Gulf Coast from outside the storm’s perimeter. We played a large role in the distribution of pet food and medical supplies to devastated areas.
1969 – Milton C. Searle, consultant in Hurricane Camille
When Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969, Red Star consultant Milton C. Searle was on the scene within hours, rescuing animals. “Roaming, starving animals pose a serious threat to human life and property,” Searle said in a 1969 issue of The National Humane Review. “Efforts to round up these animals and keep them from forming dangerous packs are an immediate priority ….”
1976 – Colorado Big Thompson River flood response
When Colorado's Big Thompson River swelled to deadly levels in 1976, Red Star responders helped rescue stranded animals and reunite pets with their owners. We donated funds for food for the animals in the disaster area and transported displaced animals to a shelter.
1980 – Mount St. Helens volcano erupts in Washington
Washington state's Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in 1980, washing out bridges and covering the area in lava and ash. We helped rescue, shelter and feed animal victims of the disaster. A building was prepared to protect horses during the ash fallout. Red Star responders wore masks and protective clothing to shield them from the ash.
1980 – On the lookout for animals stranded by volcano in Washington
Washington state's Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in 1980. Red Star responders used a helicopter to locate animals stranded by lava and ash and airlift hay to them.
1989 – Response to Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
When Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, Red Star responders deployed to South Carolina to serve on search-and-rescue teams and to help distribute supplies. In addition, we donated $30,000 to local animal shelters in the Caribbean through the Emergency Animal Relief Fund.
1989 – Response to Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
When Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, Red Star responders helped distribute more than 400,000 pounds of pet food donated by U.S. pet food companies.
1992 – Response to Hurricane Andrew in Florida
After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, American Humane Association established an animal "Foster Care Center," allowing many owners to keep their pets safe and cared for while they got back on their feet.
1992 – Response to Hurricane Andrew in Florida
After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, American Humane Association's animal rescue command center was a coordination hub, providing dry and safe storage areas for food, as well as refrigerators for vaccines and medicines.
1992 – Response to Hurricane Andrew in Florida
After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, American Humane Association supported local animal shelters by delivering cages and purchasing generators to supply power.
1999 – Mudslide rescue with Venezuelan Air Force

When a mudslide caused destruction in Venezuela in 1999, Dick Green, Manager of Emergency Animal Relief, deployed to the disaster area, arriving by a Venezuelan Air Force plane. He coordinated with local and international agencies to rescue and shelter the animal victims.

1999 – Mudslide rescue with Venezuelan Air Force
When a mudslide caused destruction in Venezuela in 1999, our manager of Emergency Animal Relief arranged a helicopter rescue in Carmen de Uria and other villages, as the animals there could not be reached by military boat. He distributed food to rough, impromptu animal shelters in an unsecure area of the country.
2001 – Response to 9/11 terrorist attacks
When the terrorist attacks occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, our Red Star Rescue Rig was a half mile from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Our assistance was most needed in New York City, so we deployed there. We coordinated the distribution of animal carriers, food bowls and other donated supplies to local animal shelters and to the New York Police Department K-9 division.
2001 – Response to 9/11 terrorist attacks
When the terrorist attacks occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, the Red Star Rescue Rig served as a resource center for the search and recovery dogs who sifted through debris at the Staten Island Sanitary Landfill area. We provided electricity, running water and shelter.
2001 – Response to 9/11 terrorist attacks
When the terrorist attacks occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, we deployed to help the search and recovery dogs at the Staten Island Sanitary Landfill. We provided veterinary examinations and decontaminated the dogs who sifted through hazardous debris.
2005 –Response to tsunami in Southeast Asia
When the massive tsunami hit southern Asia in 2005, Dick Green, Program Manager of Animal Emergency Services, deployed to the disaster area. He helped devise a plan to inoculate animals against rabies, which would ease the growing panic about the disease, as well as help prevent animal-poisoning, a solution established by the Sri Lankan government.
2005 – Response to tsunami in Sri Lanka
When the massive tsunami hit southern Asia in 2004, American Humane Association provided information on dog behavior and how to avoid attacks. With decreased access to food sources, animals can form packs and endanger humans, which is why sheltering animals in the aftermath of disasters is critical to the safety of all.
2005 – Response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, American Humane Association assisted local and national organizations in rescuing and sheltering stranded and displaced animals. In addition, we delivered more than 1,000 pounds of food and cat litter to the area.
2005 – Response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, Red Star responders rescued animals from rooftops, flooded homes, "backyard farms" and devastated neighborhoods. We located the animals using tips from power companies and federal emergency personnel and even hand-drawn maps provided by pet owners.
2010 – Response to earthquake in Haiti
When the massive earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, Tracy Reis, Program Manager of Animal Emergency Services, deployed to the capital, Port-au-Prince. Working as a member of the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti, she visited tent cities to help people and animals surviving with few resources.
2010 – Response to earthquake in Haiti
After the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Red Star responders helped treat more than 1,300 animals suffering from mange, fleas, ticks, worms and wounds.
2011 – Response to earthquake in Japan
When the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan in early 2011, we reached out immediately with support for the desperate animal victims. We shipped $10,000 worth of animal supplies — crates, bowls and leashes, as well as a $10,000 check for animal relief work, to Japan's Headquarters for Relief of Animals in Emergencies.
2011 – Response to flooding and storms in the South
Following the devastating storms that ravaged entire communities in the South and Midwest in 2011, our Red Star® Animal Emergency Services team deployed  to Memphis with the Rescue Rig to provide rescue and shelter to the animal victims. In addition, we gave grants to animal shelters in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.
2011 – Response to flooding and storms in the South
As the floodwaters rose to dangerous levels in Memphis in 2011, our Red Star® Animal Emergency Services team deployed to the area to rescue and shelter the animal victims. We rescued 50 animals from life-threatening floodwaters and sheltered 183 dogs and cats as families were forced to evacuate their homes.
2011 – Response to tornado in Joplin, Mo.
After a deadly tornado swept through Joplin, Mo., in 2011, Red Star responders deployed to help the Joplin Humane Society shelter the many displaced animals. In total, we sheltered 1,308 animals, which resulted in 477 pets being reunited with their owners and 745 permanently displaced animals getting adopted into new homes.
 

The U.S. armed services used 243,135 horses and mules during the war to transport supply wagons, ambulances, traveling kitchens, water carts, food, engineer equipment, light artillery, and tons of shells. Horses were used in direct combat, as well.

According to American Humane Association's periodical, The Humane Review, these artillery and cavalry horses' "bravery and endurance were equaled only by the courage and the skill of their riders." More than 45,000 mules also served the U.S. Army in France doing the heavy work. They delivered millions of rounds to the guns over almost impassable roads, and thousands of them drowned or died from shell fire.

American Humane Association sent medical supplies, bandages, and ambulances to the front lines to care for the injured horses -- an estimated 68,000 per month.

Since that time, the American Humane Association has helped the animal victims of natural and manmade disasters, such as floods, chemical spills, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and victims of animal cruelty throughout the country. Today, American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services includes a fleet of emergency response vehicles customized to help animals in disasters, specialized rescue equipment designed specifically for animal search and rescue, and a force of Emergency Services Volunteers located across the country.

To learn more about the history of Animal Emergency Services, click here (PDF)

Capabilities

More than 90 years of emergency relief

American Humane Association began doing animal relief in August 1916, by accepting an invitation of the War Department to help animals used by the U.S. Army during World War I. The invitation resulted in the development of the American Red Star Animal Relief Program known today as Animal Emergency Services.

Since its inception, American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services has responded to national and international disasters, rescuing thousands of animals. Animal rescue technology and expertise has advanced drastically in 90 years. Today, American Humane Association’s Animal Emergency Services includes a fleet of emergency response vehicles customized to help animals in disasters -- specialized rescue equipment designed specifically for animal search and rescue.

American Humane Association’s Disaster Response Resources

  • A roster of more than 100 readily deployable volunteers
  • American Humane Association’s "Rescue Rig" -- 82-foot specialized tractor/trailer
    • Volunteer living accommodations -- self-sustaining for 12 responders, stocked with more than a week's supply of ready-to-eat meals
    • Command Center with electrical generator, a VHF base radio and handhelds, satellite dish uplink and downlink capability, computer and planning support capabilities
    • Basic veterinary surgery capability
    • Heavy gear storage
  • Urban search, rescue and assistance equipment
  • Flood search, rescue and assistance equipment
  • Technical rescue equipment -- rope and high-angle rescue systems, swift-water rescue systems
  • Fleet of 4WD support vehicles
 

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