American Humane Association’s Animal Emergency Services volunteers are animal lovers committed to making sure that animals’ needs are met during times of crisis. These volunteers are trained by American Humane Association to help animals during or after a disaster, bringing vital skills in animal handling, as well as necessary supplies for setting up temporary shelters.
American Humane Association’s Animal Emergency Services volunteers help communities care for animals by offering support in:
American Humane Association has a large roster of over 200 trained animal-rescue volunteers throughout the United States. These dedicated volunteers can deploy on a moment’s notice to assist animals in times of disaster or crises.
Whether the disaster is natural or human-made, one thing that American Humane Association never does is self-deploy. The accepted protocol is that Red Star Animal Emergency Services responds to calls for emergency assistance only after receiving a written invitation to do so from the local authority at the scene of the disaster.
Once an invitation has been received and the decision to deploy has been made, American Humane Association typically sends out an email to our “call-up” roster of volunteers who have completed all training and documentation requirements and are ready to deploy. (Volunteers are required to be ready to travel to a disaster site within six hours of being contacted.) The email contains information on the number of volunteers needed and the expected time frame of the deployment (for example, one team of eight people for seven days plus one travel day on each end).
As a volunteer, you may not always be available to respond to a disaster due to work or family commitments. Even if you have to say “no” to a particular deployment, you will remain on the “call-up” roster and continue to receive emails for future deployments. Animal Emergency Services volunteers also receive regular email updates that include up-to-the-minute information on current incidents, program developments, updates on training and the current on-call roster.
Even if you are available to respond to all or a portion of a deployment, you may be one of 50 potential volunteers for a response that requires only eight or 12 people – which means you may not be deployed to that particular disaster. In situations where new volunteers are involved, we try to integrate new responders with more-seasoned core team members.
For some deployments, the local authorities at the disaster scene request very specific skills or qualifications that are required in order to meet the unique needs of the situation (e.g., large animal rescue, wildfire rescue or swift water rescue). In such cases, American Humane must abide by their request, and we will contact only those individuals on our volunteer roster who meet the specified requirements.
As a new responder on a deployment, you will work in the shelter environment -- not in the field -- regardless of the situation, and even if you are an experienced animal control officer. All new volunteers start at the shelter level and work their way onto a field team after gaining the necessary experience and skills.
All Animal Emergency Services volunteers are responsible for paying for their own training and some of their uniform expenses. In addition, volunteers must provide their own health insurance and auto insurance, and must purchase and maintain their own personal safety equipment. American Humane provides all technical equipment and is responsible for travel expenses volunteers incur while responding to an emergency. Volunteers will be asked to make their own flight arrangements to a site, but American Humane Association will reimburse all expenses incurred while on deployment. However, American Humane Association does not reimburse volunteers for their time off from work while on deployment.
American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services Volunteer program welcomes anyone interested in animal welfare. Before responding to a disaster scene, all volunteers must attend our two-day Basic Animal Emergency Services training.
In addition, the following are mandatory requirements to deploy with American Humane Association to the scene of a disaster:
Additionally, American Humane Association encourages all Animal Emergency Services Volunteers to:
American Humane Association also recommends that volunteers take classes through the following agencies:
American Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)