Join Our Rescue Team
Deploy with our Emergency Services team to assist animals in times of disaster or crisis
American Humane’s Animal Emergency Services volunteer responders are animal lovers committed to making sure that animals’ needs are met during times of crisis. These volunteers are trained to help animals during or after a disaster or as a result of animal cruelty – bringing vital skills in animal handling, as well as necessary supplies and resources to set-up and operate temporary shelters and/or conduct field rescue missions.
American Humane’s Animal Emergency Services volunteer responders help communities care for animals by offering support in:
- Public relations
- Animal control and field rescue
- Resource distribution
- Temporary animal shelters
- Daily care, exercise and enrichment of animals
American Humane has a roster of trained animal rescue volunteers positioned throughout the United States. These dedicated volunteers can deploy on a moment’s notice to assist animals in times of disaster or crises.
What can you expect as an Animal Emergency Services volunteer responder when disaster strikes?
Whether the disaster is natural or human-made, American Humane’s Animal Emergency Services team responds to calls for emergency assistance only after receiving a written invitation to do so from authority at the scene of the disaster or incident. We do not self-deploy.
Once an invitation has been received and the decision to deploy has been made, American Humane will send out an email to our “call-up” roster of volunteers who have completed all training and documentation requirements and are ready to deploy. 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). Volunteers should be ready to travel to a disaster site within six hours of being contacted.
IF you are available; reply to the email as instructed. 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 incident. In situations where new volunteers are involved, we try to integrate new responders with more-seasoned core team members. All new volunteers start at the shelter level and can work their way onto a field team after gaining the necessary verifiable experience and skills.
IF you are not available; reply to the email as instructed. 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 volunteer responders also receive regular email updates that include up-to-the-minute information on current incidents, program developments and updates on training.
Are there expenses associated with being an Animal Emergency Services volunteer responder?
American Humane provides uniform shirts, and provides all technical equipment for rescue operations. American Humane 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 will reimburse all expenses incurred while on deployment. All Animal Emergency Services volunteer responders are financially responsible for their own training and some of their uniform expenses. Volunteer responders must provide their own health and auto insurance, and must purchase and maintain their own personal uniform and safety equipment. American Humane does not reimburse volunteers for their time off from work while on deployment.
What qualifications are needed to become an Animal Emergency Services volunteer responder?
The following are mandatory requirements to deploy with American Humane to the scene of a disaster:
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Completed American Humane two-day Basic Animal Emergency Services training
- Completed American Humane volunteer application
- Completed American Humane volunteer agreement
- Completed American Humane vehicle operation policy agreement
- Completed American Humane photo release
- Photo — headshot (electronic version, 150 pixels in JPG format)
- Current tetanus shot
- FEMA online courses
Additionally, American Humane encourages all Animal Emergency Services volunteer responders to obtain continual education in animal care, disaster preparedness and response:
- Complete AH’s Disaster Sheltering for Companion Animals training;
- Gain first-hand experience in animal care and handling by volunteering at a local animal shelter, equestrian center or farm;
- Join a local animal response team such as a “CART” or state animal response team, “SART”.
American Humane also recommends that volunteer responders consider vaccinations against hepatitis A and B as well as rabies pre-exposure.
American Humane also recommends that volunteers take classes through the following agencies:
American Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)