Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The horses have left the building!

We just got word that the last of the horses were adopted or picked up by rescue on Monday. The barn is empty. Job well done EARS team!!!!

Read this news article for details on where some of the horses ended up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Finally, happiness for the horses

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

There were only 10 horses left at the temporary shelter on Friday. All the others had been adopted or transferred to rescue groups. As I walked through the barn watching the volunteers do morning chores and the remaining horses contentedly chew their hay, I was overwhelmed by how much had happened in Mule Barn #5 over the past 26 days.

I went back to Day #1, when we were all happily working, getting the stalls clear of nails and wires in preparation for 40 horses ... then getting word it was 85 horses, 8 dogs, 15 chickens and 2 goats. We scrambled to affix heavy horse panels to each stall so they wouldn't get out (little did we know it would take weeks for the horses to have the incentive, let alone ability, to move that much), unload all the animals (seeing up close the absolute neglect and devastation they had experienced), and then go through every step of their rehabilitation (emotionally and physically) alongside them. It seems unreal that it all happened there in that quiet, organized, happy barn.

There were so many memories. Long, 24-hour days, unloading truckful after truckful of hay and feed, colic, coughing, comfort, relief, more colic, exhaustion, horses down, seeing Longshot standing for the first time in the morning, anxiety, worry, compassion, hope, more worry. And finally, watching Blaze, Sassy, Sergeant, Calypso, Saint (trust me -- he is NO saint!), Beauty, Longshot, Hotshot, Gandolf, Lakota, Midnight, Buddy and all the others leave for their new homes. Remembering it all leaves me flabbergasted, speechless.

Saving 84 horses from certain death took an army of people who gave everything they had. We started off with a skeleton crew of dedicated UAN and HSUS volunteers. They gave up their Thanksgiving holiday, family time and lazy days near the fire to help these horses, working a million hours a day doing hard, physical labor and still finding the energy to nurture, pet, talk to and love on each and every one of the horses.

These folks kept the horses alive. Finally we got re-enforcements and were able to go so far above and beyond basic care I think we may have accidentally spoiled some of the horses.

Longshot is a sweet and smart girl, but she was one of the weakest. I remained at the temporary shelter 24 hours a day for the first week and was keeping a careful eye on her. One morning I came in and as usual, she was down on the ground. But this time she was really down. She wasn't trying to get up, her breathing was accelerated, her eyes looked blank, her tongue was pale. She had tried to get up a few times earlier, but just couldn't do it. The scrape marks where her feet had slid through the bedding and the soiled shavings behind her told the story. I told the volunteers that we would be postponing our morning briefing. I didn't say it, but privately I wanted to be with her when she died. I held her head in my lap and stroked her. I talked to her softly and watched her erratic breathing. She had only been down two hours, but she had nothing left in her.

After a bit, we gathered a Metro Police officer, our security guard, a kind man who was delivering horse feed, and a few other strong folks and began the process of lifting her. We had a system that required at least two people on each side, one on the tail and two on the head. The seven of us lifted her using fire hoses as slings and held her there. Her legs were literally dangling. Someone offered her food, another volunteer brought a water bucket to her, and others massaged her side to get the circulation going again. Eventually she stood on her own. This went on for weeks, until finally one morning, after leaving her for my two hour "nap" between 4 and 6 a.m., I came in and found her standing. From then on, if she went down and couldn't get up, she would wait patiently until we assembled our crew, then allowed us to position her and lift her. She gave her all to help us help her. This was a dramatic change from the beginning, when she had no energy or desire to pull herself up at all. It took less and less effort to get her up each time. She lost that frantic look and began to trust us.

Then finally, Longshot stood on her own.

But that is not the entire story. Longshot had a neighbor in the barn who had no name. No Name witnessed Longshot's ups and downs and closely watched everything we did to help her. Suddenly, Longshot's neighbor was constantly down and not getting up. We began to worry about No Name. We assembled the crew, situated her and lifted her many times. After about the third time in less than 24 hours we noticed that when we counted "one, two, three" to lift, No Name would get up every time on the "two" count. After discovering this we watched more closely. Not only did she get up on "two" each time, she would nose toward her grain bucket, waiting for someone to hand-feed her, and turn her body toward the volunteers in anticipation of a massage. She is now named "Tease" and went home with a very experienced horse man (Tom) and his softy of a wife.

Our horses may have been on the brink of death, but they sure are smart. And now, they are ready to be loved as well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I want for Christmas is ... horse poop?

Many women want jewelry, clothes or spa treatments for Christmas. Sandy Cochran of Jackson, South Carolina wanted to pick up horse manure for a week.

Sandy is a trained Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteer with United Animal Nations, and when she learned about the horse rescue operation, she asked her husband to buy her a plane ticket to Nashville as her Christmas present so she could help.

Sandy mucked and stripped stalls, brushed and fed horses, and yes, even cleaned up manure for five days. “It was hard work,” she said. “But it is the best Christmas present I could have received.”

Watch this video to see what else Sandy had to say.

Oh, and you're probably wondering about these photos. The holiday spirit is definitely in the air. A volunteer made stockings for all the horses, then proceeded to decorate the entire shelter!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Live, from Tennessee, horses on the mend!

Check out this great video of EARS volunteers and UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies at the emergency horse shelter in Tennessee. The horses are sure looking healthier and happier!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kind words of thanks

Today we received a wonderful note from Terri Merritts of Nashville thanking UAN and the EARS volunteers for helping the horses in Tennessee. Here is part of Terri's note:

I wanted to tell you how much my family appreciates the help you are giving to those sweet horses and dogs at the Tennessee Fairgrounds. I am a longtime dog trainer who works with rescues/abused animals and have worked with horses my whole life as well. My mom used to tease me that I was born on a horse! We've seen a lot of dog, cat, and horse abuse over the years. I saw the photos of the horses and hate to admit that I have seen even worse. What kind of people think it is okay to do this?

Thank you so much for the love and care you are giving these precious animals and let us know if we can help. My husband lost his job a year ago and we use this time to work on animal rescue. I just went to your Web site and signed up for your e-mail newsletters and became a fan on Facebook and followed you on Twitter. You are making a real difference in the world and being a voice for the innocent animals who are suffering. I'm just so glad there are people in the world like you who really do care for those who cannot protect themselves.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Horses are on the move

Good news! Fifteen of the healthiest horses at the emergency shelter have been transported to Horse Haven of Tennessee, an equine humane society in Knoxville.

It will still be a while before the horses are available for adoption, but we're thrilled that these horses were deemed healthy enough to travel. Among the 15 horses transported were one mare and her foal.

Read more in this Nashville Tennessean article.

Also, pictured here are a few horses who were able to venture out of the emergency shelter and enjoy some fresh air earlier this week.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Horse rescue goes to the dogs

The 84 horses UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers are sheltering in Nashville now have company -- 17 starving dogs rescued from a squalid trailer in East Tennessee.

The dogs are mostly 35- to 50-pound terrier and chow mixes. They were emaciated with matted fur, parasites and open wounds. The trailer had no water or electricity and was filled with feces and urine. Neighbors reported that the property owners had moved away, leaving the dogs behind with no food or water.

The Grainger County Sheriff's Department and the Grainger County Humane Society asked The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which also led the rescue of the 84 horses, to remove the dogs. The rescued dogs will be cared for by The HSUS and United Animal Nations until their custody is determined.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Angels in red shirts

Submitted by UAN Communications Director Alexis Raymond

This week I spoke to several EARS volunteers who have returned from the emergency horse shelter in Tennessee about their experience. The only thing I can say is, “Wow.” United Animal Nations is lucky to have so many amazing, kind and dedicated people on its EARS team.

Melissa Richards (pictured at right) helps animals every day as the president of the board of directors of New Leash on Life in Lebanon, Tennessee. She is a member of her local Disaster Animal Response Team and has rescued animals from puppy mills and a tornado that hit Tennessee a few years ago.

Melissa deployed to the emergency horse shelter in Nashville from November 24 to 28, where she said she spent most of her time “scooping poop – seriously!”

“It was one of the best Thanksgivings I ever had,” Melissa said. “I couldn’t have sat home eating and watching television knowing that the horses needed help. I would do it every Thanksgiving.”

Melissa said that in her four days at the shelter, she literally saw the starving horses “fatten up” and become less fearful. “Their ribs were showing less by the time I left,” she said. “They were terrified the first day, but by the last day I was getting kisses and hugs from them.”

Nicole Tipton worked so hard in Tennessee that she had to see her chiropractor for an adjustment when she returned home to Georgia. Nicole said she did “anything that was needed” during her deployment – including mucking stalls, filling water buckets and lifting horses (like Longshot, pictured at right) who had fallen.

“Even though they were malnourished and 400 pounds underweight, they still weigh a lot and it took six to eight of us to pick them back up,” Nicole said.

Despite the physically demanding work she did, Nicole said the experience was rewarding – so much so that she is returning this weekend.

“It was wonderful knowing that the animals didn’t have to suffer anymore, and I was part of that,” she said. “Some of them were on the verge of dying had they not been rescued … it felt great to be able to show them love and kindness.”

Karen Little is a librarian at the University of Louisville and brought some of her organizational skills to work at the emergency shelter, helping the veterinarians take records on the horses and keep them organized.

“It is critical that those records be kept well, and if that is the best way I can help, I am thrilled to do it,” Karen said.

Karen has been helping animals in her own community for years – 16,000 animals to be exact. Ten years ago she and her husbanded founded the nonprofit organization Alley Cats Advocates, which has 120 volunteers who care for feral cats through the Trap-Neuter-Return method.

Karen trained to be an EARS volunteer in the mid-1990s and deployed to UAN’s Hurricane Katrina response in Monroe, Louisiana in 2005. She said her experience in Tennessee was "life changing."

“It is always interesting to be among a set of people who are going to do whatever they need to do to help an animal, even if they don’t know that animal,” Karen said.

I couldn't have described the EARS volunteer team more accurately myself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giving up is not an option

Our EARS team in Tennessee is working practically around the clock to care for 84 sick and starving horses who were rescued from lives of neglect last Tuesday. The volunteers barely have time to sleep, let alone take photos or write blog posts. But we did just speak with UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies, who told us about a few of the many wonderful horses who are fighting for their lives.

The most critical case from the rescue was a two-day-old foal who had never eaten. His mom was so malnourished, she was never able to produce milk. She had a body score of about 1.5 on the Henneke Scoring System. The baby was very weak and in critical condition. If he had been out there another 24 hours he wouldn’t have made it. (Photo at right courtesy The HSUS)

An EARS volunteer spent an entire day trying to get the foal to drink milk from a bottle or bowl. He wouldn’t do it. Janell and this volunteer stayed up all night, then finally at 4 a.m. the foal took a bottle. Then, he discovered a bowl and, as Janell put it, "started eating like a pig." During the day a volunteer was on “foal duty” and fed him every two hours. For five nights, Janell stayed with the foal all night so she could feed him every two hours.

Janell said that during the rescue mission, the mom was doing everything possible to keep the rescuers away from the baby. "When we were trying to feed the baby, she was charging us in the stalls and wouldn’t let us near her," Janell said.

But by night two, when the baby was eating a lot, mom's attitude changed. While Janell was kneeling and holding the bowl for the baby to drink, Mom was kneeling down right by her side.

“She started licking my head,” Janell said. "Then she would nudge baby toward me and keep her nose right next to the bowl while he ate. Within 24 hours the mom went from trying to hurt us to bringing her baby over to us to eat. Some people say the animals know we are trying to help them – this is absolute proof.”

The foal who was so limp and lifeless that he had to be carried into the temporary shelter last week is now frolicking and playing. Janell said he’s been named Forrest because "all he wants to do is run."

Still standing
Another problem prevalent at that emergency shelter is colic, abdominal problems that cause the horses to lie down. The owner of the horses fed them all sweet feed right before the rescue, which is causing many of them to colic. But because the horses are so weak, many of them cannot get back up again once they are down. When a horse goes down at the shelter, at least six people have to physically hoist him or her up because lying down for too long can cause organ damage or even death.

Janell said many of the horses won't even try to get back up. "They’ve completely given up," she said. "But we watch them constantly ... we don’t care if that horse has given up, we are going to get him up and hold him up. We are not giving up on them."

Long Shot (pictured at right) is one mare who has given up, Janell said. But she is young and she is healthy, and nobody is going to let her stay down … they are not going to let her give up.

"The volunteers all feel the same way, they don’t want to leave at the end of the night," Janell said. "Even on Thanksgiving, I told them to go get some dinner, but they all wanted to stay. They wanted to spend their Thanksgiving here with the horses."

A retired military officer stopped by the emergency shelter the other day to offer help. He recently returned from Iraq and is in the local volunteer fire department. He and some of his fellow firefighters are now helping the volunteers hoist the fallen horses back up, as well as stacking and organizing the overwhelming loads of hay that are being donated. (Photo at right courtesy The HSUS)

Feeding Frenzy
Janell reported that the horses eat 24 hours a day because they are so starved. The volunteers are keeping "hay under their noses all the times." Each horse eats between one to three bales of hay per day. That is a lot. They all came into the emergency shelter scared and completely unsocialized. They would stay at the back of the stall. Now, they hang their heads over the edge of the stall looking at the volunteers, wondering where their hay is. They start making noises in the morning and kicking the boards.

"We’re seeing a lot more activity and sassiness come out," Janell said. "Stallions are starting to act like stallions. When they run out of hay, they are beginning to make a fuss."

The horses are starting to get names. Volunteers named one Tease (pictured at right with Janell) because she keeps going down and staying down. "There is nothing wrong with her," Janell said. "She just likes it when we all come in and make a big fuss."

Eventually the horses will be made available for adoption. But right now they are not strong or healthy enough to be transported anywhere.

"We will go to whatever extent it takes so they get what they need to live a happy and healthy life," Janell said. "We’re going to give them what they never had before."

If you would like to support our mission to help the horses, you can make a donation to our Disaster Relief Fund.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A fighting chance

An update from UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies:

We are still fighting 24 hours a day to keep these horses alive. Some of them have given up, but we haven’t. I’m hoping to get some sleep tonight, pending no emergencies. Still unloading truckfull after truckfull of hay, utterly exhausting physically to add to the emotional exhaustion, but it’s been incredibly rewarding that everyone is still alive. We got some reinforcements today and hoping for more the rest of the week. More details will come as I slowly start to catch up...

Round-the-clock care

The UAN staff and EARS volunteers in Tennessee are literally working around the clock to care for 84 sick and starving horses rescued last week.

UAN's Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies reports that she has been working night duty to feed a baby foal who’s mother is too malnourished to produce milk. Last night, Janell was at a local emergency surgery center with a baby donkey who suddenly took a turn for the worst.

Up until this point, all if the rescued animals have survived, thanks to the unwavering commitment and diligence of all the volunteers and organizations involved.

We'll post more updates from the field as we have them.

In the meantime, you can support our volunteers by making a donation to our Disaster Relief Fund.

You can also stay updated on the situation by becoming our fan on Facebook.

Friday, November 27, 2009

84 reasons for thanks

United Animal Nations (UAN) has deployed volunteers with its Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) to care for 84 neglected horses rescued from a Cannon County, Tennessee property by The Humane Society of the United States and the Cannon County Sheriff’s Department.

The animals were all very emaciated and in poor condition. Some mothers are unable to produce milk for their foals because they are so ill and weak.

Ten EARS volunteers are spending their Thanksgiving weekend caring for the horses and nursing them back to health. As one EARS volunteer said, "What a better way to give thanks than to help someone else in need? I can't think of anything better to do."

We'll post more information and photos from this situation in the days to come. In the meantime, read our press release and watch this TV news coverage.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making a huge difference for animals

Submitted by UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies

We have officially demobilized, leaving our new friends in the capable hands of the Labell-Laurentides SPCA. It was difficult leaving the last few guys there, but I know they will be off to much better lives this weekend.

I keep wondering if this is healthy for me, going from emotion to emotion so quickly on each deployment. First, experiencing the excitement, anxiety, worry and anticipation of a deployment. What condition will the dogs be in? Will we be able to help them all? What are we going to find when we get there?

Then, the whirl of activity as the seizure or rescue takes place and the dogs begin arriving at the shelter when you don’t have time to think. Triaging them, finding those who need immediate care, those who need some care and those who just need a lot of TLC is phase two of the emotional roller coaster. Then the falling in love bit. Getting to know so many of them, their quirks, their personalities. Names emerge, and we begin to accidentally get favorites. Next comes the bittersweet part of sending them off to the next chapter in their lives and saying goodbye. We know things will only get better and better for them, but they blossomed so extraordinarily in our care, it’s hard to not get attached.

Like I always say, if we weren’t getting attached to them, something is wrong with us. Now I’m going through my “post deployment blues." I’m so grateful for the opportunity to meet with and work with so many wonderful people, even more so for having helped so many dogs along one major step in improving their worlds, but sad to be saying goodbye.

One thought keeps lingering with me. I’ve heard a few comments that since they’re huskies, they don’t mind being out in the cold. Anyone who still thinks that has never given a husky a blanket. We always marvel at how much the little Chihuahuas and Maltese enjoy their blankies for the first time. Try a husky. At first it’s intense interest and curiosity. Touch it with the paw, sniff it, move it with the nose, sniff it, taste it (not so good), sniff it again. Then it usually takes about two minutes for them to get it bunched up and situated to their liking and plop, down they go, not moving again until the next meal time. I have never seen so many simultaneously, sleeping dogs before.

This was obviously yet another different type of deployment for the Emergency Animal Rescue Service. The volunteers proved their extraordinary compassion by doing the big things (walking dogs who were stronger than most of us combined and cleaning lots of poop) and the little things (covering the scared ones with blankets and giving them names). I am so proud to be part of this team, KNOWING we are making such a huge difference for so many animals who couldn’t have done it on their own.

Huskies en route to new homes!

Below is a list of organizations that are taking in the rescued huskies. Please contact the groups directly if you are interested in adopting or fostering one of these dogs. Thanks for your support and for caring about the animals!
  • Ulster County SPCA
  • Berks County Humane Society
  • York County SPCA
  • Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area
  • Animal Care Sanctuary
  • Lost Dog Rescue
  • Washington Animal Rescue League
  • BARK Rescue
  • Siberian Husky Rescue of Canada
  • SPCA of Western Quebec
  • Newfoundlander Rescue of Ontario
  • SPCA Laurentides-Labelle

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nowhere we'd rather be

Submitted by UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies

Another beautiful sunny day in St Agathe. The dogs seem to be doing very well -- eating enthusiastically, drinking continually and finding new ways to bend their kennels so they can get out and run around. They have been keeping the volunteers very busy. Without a fenced-in area for walking dogs, we had to get creative today as many of the dogs won’t eliminate in their kennels.

We put two slip ties together to make a long leash, with one volunteer on each side of the strong dogs with their leashes and a “spotter” to help if needed and do clean up duty. All the dogs got to go outside, breathe the fresh air, and poop and pee to their hearts’ content. I originally had two people per dog in case of a leash slipping and wanted to make sure the dogs wouldn’t be able to run away. However, we realized the dogs, even the emaciated ones, would have overpowered most of us and we could be running back across the U.S. border if the dog so chose.

I know many folks are wondering, have I fallen for any this time? I can proudly say, "No." Okay, fine, yes I’m in love. “Tucson” (roughly translates in English to “chubby little kid”) is a ten-year- old blind, crazy dog. He doesn’t care that he can’t see and just barrels down the hallway leading me where ever he wants to go. Anytime anyone walks into his room he knocks his kennel around and “roo-roo”s so loudly it makes your ears ring. He continually makes confetti of his newspapers and has also gone through three kennels, bending up the bars at the bottom in the front so he can stick his feet out. That’s all he wants to do; he’s not trying to escape. He just wants his feet out. Nutty dog. But he already has a new home to look forward to: the director of Siberian Husky Rescue plans to give him a new and wonderful forever home herself. Yay!

The volunteers have been incredible as always, dedicating themselves to the dogs' care and never stopping to complain about the cold, the sore muscles, the hard floors or the aching backs. They are concentrating only on giving the dogs the best care possible and it shows. Many of the them are now napping in their kennels, awaiting dinner (the dogs, not the volunteers). They celebrate when one of the dogs finally pees and proudly tell each other graphic stories about their favorite dog’s poop. Being on deployment really is like being in another world, and as many of us have said, “there’s nowhere I’d rather be."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sled dogs: Lonely and starving no more

Submitted from Quebec by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

All of the dogs were cut from their chains and moved to the temporary shelter yesterday. Half of the UAN team went into the field to help rescue the dogs and the other half remained at the shelter to prepare for and receive them. There is one “lone wolf” who wouldn’t allow himself to be caught, but every agency involved is committed to getting him and bringing him into the life of luxury that all of these dogs are headed for. It was an exhausting day for dogs and volunteers alike. Very chilly temperatures mixed with a lot of mud and years and years of feces, urine and trash made for a difficult morning.

The dogs were very vocal when the group showed up to take them out of the woods. I think they could tell we were there to save them from a life of loneliness and starvation. Now, in the temporary shelter, if they get riled up and start “singing” we just have to say “sssssshhhhhh,” and they automatically quiet down. This has been thoroughly entertaining to the volunteers as we all vie to be the “shusher.” It adds a little bit of comedic relief to our day.

I will send more pictures and stories later today as we get to know these sweet dogs. They are just desperate for attention and looking forward to lunchtime very much.

Top photo courtesy The HSUS

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Misery ends for rescued sled dogs

Today, UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies and 12 Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers ended a miserable existence for approximately 100 sled dogs in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec.

UAN is supporting Humane Society International and the SPCA Laurentides-Labelle, which partnered to rescue the neglected dogs. The owner was unable to care properly for his dogs and released them to the care of the SPCA LL.

The dogs were chained outside without regular access to adequate food, clean water or shelter. About 30 of the rescued dogs are pregnant. EARS volunteers are helping HSI and the SPCA LL care for the dogs at a temporary emergency shelter in Val-Morin. All of the dogs will receive veterinary treatment, food, water and care, and then brought to rescue groups in Canada and in the United States, where they will be sterilized and adopted into loving homes.

Please check back for periodic updates and photos from Quebec.

Photos this post courtesy Karla Goodson/HSUS.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A very special dog

Submitted by EARS volunteer Donna Phillippe of Waco, Texas

This was my first deployment with EARS, and what a wonderful experience! It was so many things: heartbreaking, adventurous, rewarding, all in one! So many animals stole my heart in such a short time.

The EARS staff and volunteers were unloading the truck of animals from a puppy mill seizure in Arkansas. I had already placed several dogs in their temporary cages when someone handed me a very special dog. He was an older, skin and bones, blind Pekingese. He seemed to have so many health issues, and he seemed to be on his last leg. As I was carrying him to his cage, he took in a deep breath, as if he were breathing a sigh of relief. He laid his head on my chest, and I will never forget how overwhelming that moment was. I was suddenly hit with the reality that this dog was finally in the arms of someone who cared.

From that moment on, he was my special dog. I checked on him constantly. I held him as often as I could, but not as often as I wanted, knowing he would be leaving me in just a short while for a better future. I gave him a special blanket each day, and after the first blanket, he seemed to sleep forever! I realized he'd probably never had a blanket of his own before. I loved watching him rest so peacefully and at the same time, I worried he might be taking a turn for the worst. I prayed constantly for him and all of the others! They all improved so much as time went by, wagging their tails and talking to us. My special dog seemed to feel much better, too. I noticed he would get up when I walked by, even if I was quiet, as if he were looking for me. Such a big effort for such a sick dog!

The time came for our special animals to go on their next journey, the journey to a new life! They were going to Washington, D.C. for medical care and to find their forever families. I escorted my special dog personally to the truck. I wanted to make sure he would be okay as he settled in. We had to wait for our turn, so I took advantage of this time to tell him how special he was to me. He looked up at me, and it was as if he was listening to my every word. I placed him in his kennel and told him I loved him. Reality set in again, and I knew he'd probably never heard the words, "I love you" before from anyone.

It was so hard to let him go. Although I'd only known him for a few days, I knew I'd never forget him. He may have been a puppy mill dog for most of his life, but he was "My Special Dog" now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hope is on the horizon

Good news! The dogs rescued from the puppy mill in Arkansas have been transferred to the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C. There, they will receive further rehabilitation and socialization before being made available for adoption later this month.

Watch video footage of their arrival in Washington from WTTG.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Puppy mills: A curse of misery

Here are some photos of one of the dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Johnson County, Arkansas this week. Sometimes words can't describe the misery that puppy mill dogs endure -- but these pictures say it all.

And here is some news coverage of the rescue and sheltering operation featuring UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies.

You can support our work by donating to our Disaster Relief Fund.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

EARS returns to Arkansas

UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) is making its second trip to northwestern Arkansas in 2009 -- this time to care for 100 dogs, 5 cats and 2 guinea pigs removed from a puppy mill in Lamar this morning.

Fourteen EARS volunteers have traveled from Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and other parts of Arkansas to care for the rescued animals at a temporary shelter. Distinguished by their red shirts, UAN’s EARS volunteers will feed, water and comfort the dogs; clean cages and assist veterinarians who are providing any necessary medical care.

EARS volunteers are working non-stop to get the animals settled in at the emergency shelter, so we haven't received too many details yet. We'll post more information and photos as soon as we have them. In the meantime, please read our press release for more information about this response.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Christmas in September

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

Aside from the fresh water, clean kennels, regular meals and attention, the dogs rescued from a Turner County, South Dakota are now receiving the ultimate UAN volunteer care. Since the UAN and HSUS teams arrive basically self-contained, the only request we can think to ask of community members who are eager to help is toys for the dogs. We had the opportunity today to play Santa Claus and have Christmas in September.

The generosity of the Turner County residents has now made play time a much longer and fulfilling event of the day. Even the big dogs, who have so much energy, are tossing toys and pouncing, rolling around with them and wagging their tails. We also discovered that empty water bottles make ideal toys for the active puppies. They make fun sounds but are easy to “destroy.” Once the bottle has been chomped on by multiple puppies a few times, it goes flat and apparently looses its allure.

I think the nursing mothers may appreciate the toys the most. The puppies stop their non-stop nursing and tugging on mom to investigate the new thing we have tossed into their home. They cautiously move forward, sniff, pounce, jump back and then go for it. They play with their squeaky toys, balls, soft bones, tug ropes and each other until finally, they crash out in a big sleeping pile. Mom is able to get some quiet time and much-needed rest without her babies continually seeking her attention.

Watching the dogs act like “real dogs,” lounging around and playing, is great therapy for all of the hardworking volunteers. The delight these dogs have in getting their own personal, fun toy is obvious. After morning feeding and cleaning, we pass out the toys and listen to the sound of squeaks, grunts and yips until eventually the shelter is quiet…they have worn themselves out and are now on to nap time. This is the best part of the day. We watch the dogs sleeping peacefully, once in a while lazily getting up to take a drink of fresh water or look around and flop back over with a sigh.

Life is now good for these dogs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Here we go again

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

UAN is at yet another puppy mill deployment. How wonderful is it that we can make such a difference across the country, to so many animals, in such a short period of time?! We are all tired and sore, but so inspired with the impact we have made over the last few days, weeks and months.

UAN volunteers are now in turner County, South Dakota helping to care for almost 200 dogs who have come from horrible conditions.

You can read more about this situation in our
press release or watch this news segment.

These are all hunting breed dogs, not the fluffy little ones we have become accustomed to, but still loving and desperate for attention like all of the other animals we have helped. The retrievers, Weimaraners, spaniels and others are much heartier than the Maltese, poodles and Chihuahuas we usually work with, but there are still signs of obvious neglect.

Many of these active, energetic dogs were kept in small kennels and most of the puppies and nursing moms were held in silos or other small farm structures. It was obvious that these dogs had little or no contact with the outside world, as rescuers had to cut holes into some of the buildings to fit their bodies through to get to the dogs. Small, high windows were their only source of light and fresh air. They lived in their own waste with no attention to health or hygiene.

Many of the puppies are in very poor to critical condition, but are improving rapidly with the supportive care of the veterinary team and the volunteers. Constant rehydration and supplemental nutrition has been necessary for them to survive. With a full volunteer crew and a team of vets, this is something they are receiving constantly at the emergency shelter.

I personally am not overly familiar with hunting breed dogs, but am learning what is “normal” and what is not. The males are almost all obese while the females are emaciated. There are no dogs between the ages of six weeks to one year, which leads me to believe the dogs in our care are the “breeding stock.” The females are giving everything they’ve got to their puppies and spend most of their time sleeping in the small wading pools we have set up with sheets and towels.

The males are going bonkers in their kennels, which are quite a bit larger than what they were housed in on the property. We are doing our best to keep their water buckets full as most of the dogs are dehydrated and in their excitement for human contact and attention are constantly knocking them over.

Every so often the shelter becomes unusually quiet. All of the dogs are just worn out and getting so comfortable in their clean kennels full of soft cedar chips. They are now on a regular feeding and cleaning schedule (and we are only on day two!) and getting the comfort, care and rest they so desperately deserve.

Although this is a new experience for me in dealing with a large number of large-breed dogs, I still feel the overwhelming satisfaction that these guys are in a much better place and are already benefitting from it. Thank goodness for Second Chance Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States and UAN. I feel confident that each of these dogs will go from being a commodity to becoming a family member and pet … something every dog deserves.