Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 11 Emergency Response Moments of 2010

We asked Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager, to identify the top ten moments from our emergency sheltering responses in 2010. But we had 11 responses this year, and naturally Janell had a great memory from each one!

EARS volunteer Janet Roush with Hope, a dog rescued from a hoarding case in Mississippi in March 2010.

1. At the Georgia dogfighting response, watching a dog who had, just hours before, been in the ring fighting for his life, lick a volunteer’s hand and snuggle up on a new warm bed with a sigh of contentment.

2. At the Mississippi hoarding response, the morning Stevie’s paw was hanging out of his crate. He was an older, blind and incredibly fearful dog who had been curled up at the back of his crate. The volunteers gently talked to and pet him for days – all with no response, until that morning. The next day was another paw, the next day, his whole head. Small steps toward a much brighter future.

3. Seeing more than 100 cats all in one room, peacefully sleeping on soft, clean beds, after being rescued from a hoarding situation in Kern County, California.

4. At the Tennessee puppy mill response, letting Lil’ Hal -- a dog with the worst genetic deformities we have ever seen -- grab our attention and our hearts. He was the happiest, most loving and lovable dog and was adopted by a wonderful family with an eight-year-old boy to be his best friend.

EARS volunteer Lisa Ammirati at the West Virginia equine cruelty response.

5. The day Eve came to me during the West Virginia equine cruelty response. She had been locked up on a hill, alone, in a cemetery. On the last day of the deployment, she slowly approached me and let me stroke her neck. She wore a look of contentment and trust in eyes that had been completely vacant just weeks before.

6. Day three of the Kern County, California hoarding response in July, when Chunky Monkey, who had been sitting huddled and shivering in the back of his cage since his arrival, finally came forward and gave one of the volunteers a lick.

7. During the Eastern Montana Humane Society shelter rescue, grooming the gray, matted unidentified “mutt” to discover he was a beautiful schnauzer underneath.

8. Hand feeding the baby birds after the Missouri bird rescue. They began to see us as mom and would chirp and flutter whenever we came near.

9. Watching 96 dogs rescued from a hoarding case in Montana learn to tentatively trust, then full out love, as they began to act like real dogs.

One of the dogs rescued from an
Indiana puppy mill on December 1, 2010.
10. During the California rat rescue, meeting rat after rat with different personalities -- the cuddlers, the shy ones, the playful pranksters. Learning that rats are like little dogs just bursting with character and friendliness.

11. At the Indiana puppy mill response, getting 120 dogs from puppy mill cage to rescue, foster or adoption in under 72 hours with food, love, vet care and compassion packed in between.

Please watch this video of just a few of the 2,300 animals rescued during UAN responses in 2010.

You can help us help more animals like these in 2011 by making a tax-deductible year-end donation to our Disaster Relief Fund.

If you have a favorite memory from one of the 2010 emergency sheltering responses, please share it in the comments section below!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Suffering finally ends, healing begins, for rescued puppy mill dogs

Janet Hare of Earl Park, IN
with her new cuddly friend
Submitted by EARS volunteer Debbie Ferguson of Kildeer, Illinois

Hello again from Bloomington, Indiana where we have completed the deployment and have sent the rescued puppy mill survivors on to adoption shelters where they will be able to find true homes with people who will love them properly. This is always a bittersweet day; we are happy that they are healthy enough to travel and that they will soon be in real homes, but sad to see our new little charges leaving us. But in the end, it is about them, not us.

So I would like to introduce you to a few of the dogs that really moved us this week, some who came in with big personalities and entertained us immensely, some who were completely shut down and started to learn to love, and some who just got under our skin.

Gary Gray of Nashville, TN
getting fresh air with a friend
We’ll start with the big personalities which would definitely include the Shih Tzu who sat on his hind legs for hours at a time, tail wagging the entire time. Sometimes he would lean on his partner, sometimes wave at us, and sometimes just sit and wait for someone to notice him. Even when we took him out of his crate and let him run around in a small room, he chose to just sit back and show off for us.

And we couldn’t talk about big personalities without talking about the pugs – almost ALL of them. They were in constant motion, vying for everyone’s attention and always smiling; who could resist? But the one that most caught our attention was the one born missing one of his back feet; his disability didn’t slow him down one bit and his enthusiasm was not deterred at all. This was a dog that knew good things were in his future!

The dogs who appeared to be shut down were the ones that got my attention and broke my heart - the chocolate poodle who sat in the corner the first two days, hair covering his eyes and just trying to disappear; the protective mama, trying to be brave and keep her babies safe, not wanting to see yet another litter of pups taken from her too soon; and the “caution” dogs, those who appeared to be aggressive during the seizure and were, with good reason, flagged as such. One of those that I personally became attached to was a tan poodle who hid in the back of his crate, not making eye contact with anyone and who went iron-rod stiff when I removed him from his crate. After going through the vetting process, I sat with him in my arms for awhile, and soon felt his entire body start to relax and before long he was sleeping soundly in my arms – and when I got up and put him in Janet’s arms, he cuddled right up to her and fell asleep again. Caution – love ahead for this amazing little dog.

Old man in the caring arms of an
EARS volunteer 
There were so many who just “got under our skin” - the tiny pug puppy and his little Shih Tzu buddy, constantly wrestling and playing; the inseparable pugs that seemed to have to be touching at all times; the tiny little five-week-old Shih Tzu pup, prematurely taken from his mother before we arrived, who tested positive for giardia; and so many more. But there is always one that brings me to tears, despite my best efforts to refrain. This one was a little Yorkie nicknamed “Old man.” He had cataracts and no teeth, his little body used up by years of neglect, yet he accepted our touches and our love and you could just tell that he was ready to fully accept and return the love that comes from the dog/human bond. As I watched him lying in Julie’s arms prior to being moved to one of the adoption shelters I could see in his eyes that he still had the capacity to love humans unconditionally. And he will finally get that chance now.

We said goodbye to the last group of dogs around noon. They were all picked up by representatives of the four organizations that will care for them until they can be adopted into forever homes. We thank each of those organizations for their willingness to prepare them for adoption:
We are all proud to have been a part of this rescue and can sleep easier knowing that we have helped to bring 122 more dogs out of crisis and into care.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Five shelters take in rescued puppy mill dogs

Great news -- the 100+ dogs rescued from an Indiana puppy mill on December 1 have been transferred to other organizations for further care and eventual adoption.

The dogs will be adopted out through the following animal shelters:

Brown County Humane Society
Bloomington Animal Care and Control
Vanderburgh Humane Society
New Albany Animal Shelter
Pet Refuge of Mishawaka

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vets confirm rescued Indiana dogs have medical problems typically found in puppy mills

Submitted by EARS volunteer Debbie Ferguson of Kildeer, Illinois
UAN volunteer Gary Gray from
Nashville, Tennessee
It is day two of this puppy mill deployment and the dogs seemed much quieter and calmer this morning after having had time to settle into their new (temporary) living quarters. It helps that they are now in larger crates with blankets to snuggle into, as well as having fresh food and water, not to mention they are now in a heated facility. The day started well, with the UAN volunteers starting morning feeding and cleaning rounds without incident. Once the veterinarians arrived, we were all assigned jobs. We had runners, the people who retrieve the dogs, one at a time, from their crates and take them through the process of getting photographed, being examined by a veterinarian, and getting all their required shots, medications, and tests completed. We also had evidence photographers, vet techs, and scribes to speed up the process so that the dogs could get treated and back into their comfortable crates as quickly as possible.  

On the way to see the vet
to get healthy
The results of the veterinary exams were quite concerning. Approximately 99.9% of the dogs tested positive for the medical issues naturally inherent in their breeds; almost all of the pugs and Yorkies had subluxated patellas, where the kneecap moves sideways, locking the joint in a bent position. Most of the male poodles tested positive for cryptorchid (undescended testicles) and the vast majority of puppies and juveniles tested positive for giardia, an internal parasite that, if left untreated, especially in puppies, can cause malnutrition and potentially, death. Many of the breeding dogs had cataracts, skin diseases and very few remaining teeth. Though most of these ailments are treatable, they can be extremely uncomfortable, if not painful, and may require expensive and painful surgeries to correct. And the really heartbreaking part is that many of these dogs have been living with these conditions for years, and who knows how many dogs before them suffered similar fates. They were bred over…and over…and over again, and for nothing more than monetary gain. 
UAN volunteer Brian Massey of
Fishers, Indiana
These dogs are the lucky ones; they have been saved and will now go on to have wonderful lives. But all of these issues are typical in dogs that come from puppy mills. And they are very hard to recognize at first – after all, most of us are experienced dog handlers and we believed these dogs to be in fair condition when they first arrived, but the fear and excitement the dogs experience when coming into a new environment cause them to move and react differently and that can make it difficult to notice unusual or concerning signs indicative of medical issues. So if we can be fooled, it would be very easy to fool a novice dog owner into thinking they are purchasing a healthy dog.
A survivor
Those of us who took part in this puppy mill deployment learned so much and we will all pass on these lessons to others, so that we can prevent more dogs from living the lives these dogs were living. One hundred and twenty two dogs are safe now. Chalk one up for the good guys.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Puppy mill dogs get second chance

We received the following update from EARS volunteer Debbie Ferguson of Kildeer, Illinois, who is at the temporary shelter UAN is running for 100 dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Greene County, Indiana yesterday:

Ten UAN volunteers from five states made the trek here to provide emergency sheltering for approximately 100 small-breed dogs seized from a local puppy mill. 
A rescued pup poses for the camera
We met at the Pets Alive Spay/Neuter Clinic in Bloomington early Thursday morning and began preparing the facility for the arrival of the dogs. Though much smaller than the usual emergency shelter facility,  it was more than enough to accommodate the small dogs who would arrive later in the day. The clinic staff made us feel very welcome; in fact, one employee even gave up his office so we could create an emergency triage station for the veterinarians! 
Kelly McKinney of Indianapolis carries
a rescued Chihuahua to his new "digs."
We spent the morning and early afternoon unloading, sterilizing and putting together crates (donated by PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief Waggin’); laying down puppy pads and bowls; and setting up special sections like maternity wards, veterinary stations and caution areas (for more hard-to-handle dogs). While we awaited the dogs’ arrival, we attended information sessions with UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies. Though a regular part of a UAN deployment, this session was especially pertinent as 70 percent of the volunteers were deploying with UAN the first time. 
UAN volunteer Janet Hare carries a
rescued dog into the temporary shelter
The sessions appeared to be quite effective. When the truck arrived with the dogs, the transfer was smooth and efficient. Despite the tight quarters and the large amount of people congregating to watch, photograph and film, the dogs were quickly placed into comfortable units. And very soon we all discovered our personal favorites, sitting with them, talking with them, sometimes holding them, but mostly assuring them that they were in a very good place and their lives were now going to be better than any dog could have hoped for.  
Yorkie pups were among the 100 dogs
rescued from the puppy mill December 1.
It was really amazing watching the faces of the first-time UAN volunteers as they received the dogs from the truck and carried them to their kennel. The satisfaction of knowing that what they were doing was vitally important to each little life was evident in the huge smiles on their faces. 
So, at the end of the day, approximately 100 small breed dogs, mostly Yorkies, poodles, pugs, Chihuahuas, Maltese and Shih Tzus were on their way to better lives, and ten UAN volunteers had a part in that. Not a bad days’ work!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

100 rescued puppy mill dogs in Indiana get TLC

Today UAN volunteers began yet another effort to give rescued puppy mill dogs the care, attention and affection they have never experienced before.

One of approximately 100 dogs rescued
from an Indiana puppy mill on Dec.
1, 2010. Photo courtesy The HSUS.
Working with The Humane Society of the United States and several other organizations, UAN has deployed 10 volunteers to Bloomington, Indiana, where approximately 100 dogs were removed from a puppy mill today. The small-breed dogs -- mostly Maltese, Shih Tzus and poodles -- were found living inside small wire cages and runs inside a dirty mobile home. Some dogs were denied proper veterinary care and socialization as is typical in puppy mills.

Please read our press release for more details. We will post updated and photos to this Emergency Response Journal as they are available.

You can also see video of the rescue and sheltering effort from Channel 6.

To support UAN’s work to shelter animals displaced by natural disasters or rescued from large-scale cruelty situations, please donate to our Disaster Relief Fund.

Praise for UAN volunteers

Jamie Batt, one of the amazing
North Star Rescue volunteers
We received this wonderful e-mail from a volunteer with North Star Rescue, the organization that took responsibility for caring for an rehoming the 1,000+ rats rescued in Southern California last week. This is an amazing bunch of people who are compassionate, hard working and really know their stuff when it comes to rats and other small animals!

"Hello! I'm a volunteer with North Star Rescue in the Bay Area, and as you know we are currently working to save over 1,000 rats rescued from a hoarding situation. I just wanted to write and let you know that working with the UAN volunteers in San Jose was a wonderful experience. The people I met from your organization were some of the most caring, dedicated, hard-working people I have ever had the pleasure of volunteering with. Whatever needed to be done, UAN volunteers simply jumped in and got it done! It may not have been glamorous, it may not have been fun, but I never heard a single complaint, and I can't remember any bad attitudes! Thank you so much for assisting in this enormous rescue effort -- I smile when I remember the wonderful people I met. Knowing that there are others so dedicated to saving animals makes my own continued commitment (often in the face of so much animal suffering) that much easier."

In solidarity, Rebecca Stanger

Thanks for your kind words, Rebecca, and for all you and your fellow North Star Rescue volunteers are doing to help these intelligent and endearing animals!

If you are interested in giving a loving home to some of these rescued rats, they will be available for adoption after December 5. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rescued rats safe, well cared for

Submitted by EARS volunteer Norma Rodriguez of Bellflower, California

A juvenile ("juvie") rat
and his momma.
I was so wrong when I commented to another volunteer that, “At least we won’t be carrying the baggage of emotional attachment when our deployment with the rats ends.” Right. Like I won’t remember the little rat who would literally grab the apple slice from my hand. Maybe someday I’ll delete from my camera the little white “juvie” who was so cute with his mama. Maybe tomorrow I won’t wonder if someone will remember to attach a second water bottle to the divided cages. By the way, it took a couple of days to remember we were working on “cages,” not kennels. This deployment will remain in my heart just as all deployments do with everyone else.

Large "condos" at the
temporary rat shelter
As tragic as the situation was, as always, there were some truly funny moments during this deployment. What else could you expect from such amazing folks as the EARS volunteers? There will always be laughter. Everyone comes away with a special memory.
EARS volunteer Linda Olvera of
Oakland, CA enjoys cuddle time.
I think all of us who were fortunate to be able to volunteer our time and efforts to this deployment came away with knowledge and appreciation we never imagined having. I certainly learned, from observing first-hand, more about the life cycle, personalities and abilities of rats. Every creature, including humans, has talents and abilities others don’t have, and the sooner humans recognize and accept this, the sooner animal abuse and neglect will end and animals will receive the respect and appreciation we all deserve.

Thank you to all who assembled and then reinforced cages, all who watered and fed, all who schlepped cages and bins to the sorting room, all who cut cardboard for the cage tops, all who swept the floors, and especially all who cut chicken wire for the cages to prevent the rats from escaping.

Photos this post courtesy Norma Rodriguez.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rats make international news!

The story of the rescued rats is popping up nationwide and even as far as Great Britain and Australia!

Check out these news segments with video from KTVU Channel 2 and KCBS Channel 5.

Thanks to all of UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service volunteers who deployed to help these critters.

The rescued rats will be available for adoption and transport to other rescue groups after December 5. If you are interested in adopting, please contact North Star Rescue.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In search of the ideal pet

What's a good choice if you want a pet who is smart, affectionate and clean? The answer might surprise you ...

Welcome to the rat race

It's been a busy day here at the emergency shelter UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers are running for 1,000 rats rescued from an overrun home in southern California last week.

Rescued rats enjoy their new "condo"
This morning we arrived to find that seven rats had escaped from their new "condo" enclosures. Luckily, all were quickly captured and returned to their cages. Volunteers are now wrapping the "condos" in chicken wire to prevent more escapes. The intake process continues. Rats are being "sorted" according to gender and placed into the large rolling condos in groups of 15 or so. 

A "juvenile" rat, about two weeks old.
In the last 24 hours, our rat pack has grown by about 25 -- two new litters were born and they are resting comfortably with their new moms in our maternity ward.

Several news cameras have visited the shelter today, and we're hopeful the media attention will help these rescued rats find new homes and educate people about the many good reasons to adopt rats as pets!

Read coverage of the response in the San Jose Mercury News.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rat rescue: A UAN first

There is a first time for everything, and this is a first for United Animal Nations: a rat rescue. This weekend, a dozen of UAN’s Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers from California are caring for approximately 1,000 rats removed from an overrun home in Southern California on Thursday and Friday.

EARS volunteer Lynn Frischmann carries
rescued rats into the temporary shelter.
North Star Rescue, a San Francisco Bay Area group specializing in small animal rescue, and The Humane Society of the United States removed the rats and transported them to a temporary shelter at Andy’s Pet Shop in San Jose. UAN volunteers spent the entire day Friday setting up cages and “condos” for the rats; stocking their new homes with food, water and bedding; and unloading the rats and sorting them after they arrived.

Today, EARS volunteers continue to work with North Star Rescue volunteers to intake the animals – a process that could take several days for so many animals. Read more about this rescue and sheltering operation on the UAN Web site.

Many of the rats are pregnant or had just given birth. Check out this video of a few of the youngest residents of the temporary shelter:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Animals rescued from hoarding: One volunteer's perspective

I volunteer with an incredible group, United Animal Nations that rescues animals in crisis – natural disasters, hoarding situations or puppy mills.  On August 31, my sister Jeanne and I deployed to the small town of Baker, Montana (pop. 1,700) to assist with a dog rescue from a hoarding situation.  The first evening, all of the volunteers gathered for a dinner to get acquainted.  It was an amazing feeling to be in a room of 20 strangers, yet knowing we all already had something in common and a mission to fulfill.

Please continue to this personal blog post by EARS volunteer Marsha Steckling of Boulder, Colorado to read the rest of her story and see some great photos!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rescued Montana dogs settling in at Colorado shelter

Today we received some photos and an update from EARS volunteer Marsha Steckling, who visited five  of the Montana dogs transferred to the Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colorado.

Marsha reports that:

"The dogs were still pretty frightened and shy but showing some good signs. One of the dogs licked the hand of the behaviorist in charge of them and even expressed a tail wag! The behaviorist, Sarah, is incredibly patient and loving and has a great understanding of feral, shy dogs. They will work as long as it takes to rehab these dogs and will find them the right homes."

Check out the photos below!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

EARS gives Montana dogs a second chance

Submitted by UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies

As with all the others, this deployment brought us many challenges as well as successes. From the can opener that took an engineering degree to make it work, to tricky dogs who refused to stay in their kennels and found various ways to get out and run, frolic and play a one-sided game of chase, to dogs who had never set foot outside of the attic – let alone felt the touch of human hands. The one thing that continually stood out to me was the volunteers' kindness toward the animals and to each other.

These were not your run-of-the-mill “neglected” dogs. These guys were taken care of, but with the inevitable limitations of what only one person can do with 100 dogs. Many seemed friendly, but would not allow us to touch them. This all came from fear of the unknown, but the volunteers took that in stride and showed the utmost patience and compassion for these animals. While calmly communicating with each other, backing each other up and spotting one another, the volunteers cared for these animals like they had never been cared for before. Cleaning their crates or even feeding thoroughly traumatized some of these dogs. The volunteers worked together as a team and spoke softly, moved slowly, and even sang to the dogs. That EARS magic did its trick.

After a day or two of being calmly and quietly cared for, many of these dogs started to show interest, curiosity, bravery and even affection. They would come toward the front of the kennel and give a few tentative kisses to the hands that fed them. Some allowed pets and scratches, some even rolled over for belly rubs. These small victories were shared among the team of red shirts with quiet rejoices and positive affirmations to the dogs. These were not the same animals who came into our shelter only days before. These dogs were interested in becoming family pets, an integral part of someone’s life.

The UAN team gently coerced the timid dogs to have a bite to eat, take a drink of clean water, accept a pat. The result was a new faith in people, a realization that our intentions were good. We were able to see these dogs show trust as they stood shivering on the vet table, tolerating thorough medical exams while the UAN volunteers held and comforted them. When we began loading the dogs up to be transported to rescue groups and shelters, many of them who were previously unhandlable were easily lifted from their crates and carried to the rig. The resilience of these animals continues to amaze me; going from knowing and trusting only one person their whole lives, to trusting an entire team of red shirts, so thoroughly and knowing we were there to help.

The environment these dogs came from was utterly indescribable, even to the veterans who have seen it all. Feces lay two- to three-feet thick on the floors and counter tops. The majority of these dogs had never set foot outside of the house or a particular room. The owner had given everything to his dogs and had nothing more than the shirt on his back, literally. These dogs were loved, but had never received medical care and were completely unsocialized. To see them go from frightened, unsure, trembling dogs to romping with each other in large kennels and then cuddling up to the volunteers made all of the hard work, sore backs and long days worth it. The dogs did not have a chance to become pampered pets in the environment they came from. Now with the help of the UAN volunteers, these dogs will receive that second chance they so deserve. Thank you to everyone for helping to make this happen.

The dogs were sent to the following shelters and rescue groups for continued socialization and eventual adoption:
Photos courtesy of EARS volunteers Ruth Koehler and Marsha Steckling.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Montana Dogs Make the News Again

Nearly 100 Dogs Hoarded in Home Rescued (article and video), KMGH, Denver

Great photos of the rescued Montana dogs

Many thanks to EARS volunteer Marsha Steckling from Boulder, Colorado for these wonderful pictures.

Marsha comforts a mama dog
while the vet examines her puppies.
Lloyd Koehler of Garrison, Montana
comforts a frightened dog.
A puppy being examined by the vet.
A dog being examined by the vet.
A dog getting examined by the
vet while Lloyd Koehler comforts her.

Remaining Montana dogs bound for Colorado

Submitted by Ruth Koehler of Western Montana

September 5, 2010

Good news last night. Shelters in Colorado will be taking the rest of the dogs. They will be loaded on the van first thing Sunday morning and head out for their new homes in Colorado. There are some great dogs in there, and some that will require a lot of TLC. Thank Heaven for large shelters that have the money and the time to spend to assure a great foster or forever home placement.

UAN started with eight volunteers for this deployment and ended up with three for the last couple of hours on Sunday. This has been a truly amazing experience for my husband and I and we can’t wait to go again. We got home Sunday night after a 500-mile drive, still in Montana! UAN volunteer Marsha Steckling sent us some pictures today and said that 15 of the “Denver Dogs” are at shelters very close to her home so she and her sister, Jeanne, also an EARS volunteer, are going to go visit tomorrow!

From the field: Day 4 in Montana

Submitted by Ruth Koehler of Western Montana

September 4, 2010

Things continue to improve. HSUS staffers are still looking for shelters to take large numbers of dogs. Twenty-four dogs are going on the truck today to shelters across Montana. Four of those are going to the Montana Women’s Prison for their dog training program. The four dogs were chosen because they were the most timid and will need a lot of one-on-one care to become socialized enough to be adoptable.

After the truck left we continued to do clean up chores. There are always plenty of crates and kennels to be cleaned. The dogs are amazing. Considering the filth they were raised in, now that they are living in clean kennels many of them appear to want to stay clean and are housebreaking themselves! They are also becoming socialized at an amazing rate. We cannot take them out and play with them, but they are almost all starting to eat well, and they will come to the front of the cage and seek attention when approached.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hope and a better future

Submitted by Ruth Koehler of Western Montana

Day three of the Wibaux, Montana dog rescue has been much quieter. All of the dogs had their veterinary exams yesterday. Several mothers-to-be were identified and moved to private quarters. Today’s activities have consisted of feeding, cleaning and socializing with the dogs.

Today, many of the dogs are starting to respond less fearfully to the volunteers. These animals have never been outside, walked on a leash or responded to a human being prior to yesterday. The move has been extremely stressful for them and UAN and HSUS staff and volunteers are trying to maintain a quiet, peaceful environment to allow them to recover.

HSUS and UAN staff are working diligently to find shelters and rescue groups that can take the dogs for foster care and adoption. Montana Women’s Prison at Billings will be taking some of the dogs for their inmate dog training program, while others will be transported to groups across the country.

From the field: Day 2 in Montana

Submitted by EARS volunteer Ruth Koehler of Western Montana

September 2, 2010

Yesterday, UAN and HSUS staff removed 96 medium sized dogs from a home in rural eastern Montana. At the end of an extremely long day, all of the dogs were safely sheltered at the Fallon County Fairgrounds in Baker. Although they were removed from squalid conditions with 82 of the dogs living in the house with the owner, the animals appear to be well-fed and in reasonably good health.

Eight UAN volunteers are assisting HSUS staff on this second day, cleaning, feeding and carrying the dogs to the veterinarians for their first-ever veterinary care. The dogs, who are all descendants of the owner’s three original dogs, are a German shepherd cross type. In spite of a lack of socialization and having spent most, if not all, of their lives locked in a house, most of the dogs are quite friendly and are quickly adjusting to the new care and attention they are receiving from UAN volunteers.

It's common for people to become overwhelmed with more animals than they can care for. For more information on hoarding, please visit

More news from Eastern Montana rescue

Seized dogs getting care, Billings Gazette

Dogs rescued in Wibaux,

More than 90 dogs removed from Wibaux-area home, Great Falls Tribune

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Images from Eastern Montana

Two of the nearly 100 dogs seized at a home in Wibaux, Montana yesterday.

Volunteers are working to remove the dogs from the Wibaux property and bring them to a temporary shelter in Baker at the Fallon County fairgrounds.

Photos this post courtesy of The HSUS.

News coverage of Eastern Montana rescue

Here is some news coverage of the seizure of nearly 100 dogs in Wibaux, Montana on September 1:

100 dogs seized from Wibaux home, Billings Gazette

Dogs Seized in Eastern Montana, KULR-TV

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

EARS volunteers return to Eastern Montana

United Animal Nations (UAN) is leading operations to shelter nearly 100 dogs removed from an overrun property in Wibaux, Montana this morning. UAN volunteers joined the Wibaux County Sheriff’s Department and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to remove the animals after neighbors raised concerns over the unsanitary living conditions and substandard care of the dogs.

Please read more about this response in our press release.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Breaking down and tearing up

Submitted by EARS volunteer Kim Diloreto of Neenah, Wisconsin

On Wednesday, July 14, the news came that the animals removed from the shelter in Baker, Montana, had been surrendered and could be moved to out-of-state shelters where they would have a chance to find forever homes.

Bright and early Thursday morning the shelter was bustling. Sorting dogs, arranging travel crates for cats, checking and rechecking paperwork. The dogs barked a loud chorus, with the coon hound singing lead. The cats paced and rubbed against the sides of their crates. They all sensed something special about this morning.

By nine o’clock The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) transport truck had been backed into the middle of the shelter building. It waited with ramp down, anxious to begin it’s long journey.

UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers gathered the animals one by one. They formed a loose line behind the truck. One at a time the cats, and then the dogs, were carried or led up the ramp for the long ride.  It was a kind of modern day Noah’s ark -- the animals all in a row waiting for their turn to be saved.

By eleven o’clock the truck was gone. The chorus of barks was replaced by conversations that carried softly as volunteers broke down kennels, stacked crates, cleaned, scrubbed and packed things up.

They discussed the animals. Were they comfortable in the transport truck? How long a ride did they have? Would they find good homes?

Off and on, there were tears. “Don’t cry,” they told each other. “If you cry, you’ll make me cry.”

Some of them hugged. Some avoided eye contact, deep in their own private thoughts. Some lingered in front of the empty crate or kennel that had held their favorite cat or dog.

Why do the EARS volunteers do this? Why do they burn their vacation hours, spend their saved dollars, drive hundreds of miles to spend long days washing bowls, cleaning cages and scooping poop?

There are as many answers to that question as there are volunteers. But it’s fair to say they all realize that while nobody can give these animals a guarantee to a happy life, what they can give them -- and what they did give them -- was a chance.

Photos: EARS volunteer Coke Conrad of West Fargo, North Dakota loads cats onto the HSUS rig; Coke and EARS volunteer Marcia Hale of Boise, Idaho say goodbye; Marcia says goodbye to a favorite dog; the UAN team on the last day of the response (clockwise from top left: Debra Hutcherson of LaRue, Texas; Frank Mallon of Cody, Wyoming; Coke Conrad; Kim Diloreto; Marcia Hale; Barb McGonigal of Bloomington, Minnesota with Sugar; Janel Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager. Photos courtesy Kim Diloreto