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The History of American Humane’s Rescue Team


American Humane began providing animal relief in 1916, by accepting an invitation of the War Department to help animals utilized by the U.S. Army during WWI. The invitation resulted in the development of American Humane Red Star®, known today as the American Humane rescue team.

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 heaps of shells. Horses were used in direct combat, as well.

According to American Humane’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 of ammunition over almost impassable roads, and thousands of them drowned or died from shell fire.

American Humane 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 rescue team 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 ‘s rescue team includes a fleet of emergency response vehicles, boats and equipment 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.

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