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.