When most people think about animal rescues, they probably visualize professional responders and advocates coming to the aid of dogs, cats, and other animals in desperate and sometimes abusive situations. But this equation leaves out a third party that’s absolutely crucial to saving lives: The community.
Participation by local residents is critical to complete the full cycle of animal rescue – from initial intervention to sheltering and care, and finally adoption. We don’t always get to witness this full cycle in a single endeavor, which makes our recent operation in Moulton, Alabama stand out.
The case began in late June, when we assisted the Moulton Police Department in removing more than 300 animals — including dogs and cats of all breeds and ages — living in filthy and overcrowded conditions at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter.
When we arrived, we found several dead animals among live ones throughout the property, including puppies who’d died from untreated parvovirus. We also rushed a number of animals to an emergency clinic. Other animals were emaciated and suffering from medical issues including parvovirus, distemper and untreated wounds. Some were housed in small wire crates, and others in crowded enclosures where animals fought for limited resources and space.
On July 25 and 26, we held a two-day adoption event for the animals, which was attended by well over 900 people from as far away as Tennessee and Georgia.
All adoptable animals were vaccinated and micro-chipped prior to the event, and the ASPCA made provisions for them to be spayed or neutered as well, at no expense to their new owners. The ASPCA is also helping to cover other veterinary expenses, including treatment for heartworm-positive dogs.
For the adoption event, the ASPCA also instituted a formal process, developed by animal behaviorists and shelter experts, to help ensure animals were going to safe new homes. The process included a detailed application form and mandatory meetings with adoption counselors to assess prospective owners’ home environments as well as their capability to care for an animal, especially ones with special needs.
With each appropriate and successful match, an “adoption bell” was rung to share the good news.
By the end of the weekend, 202 animals – including all of the cats – were adopted. The remaining dogs will be transported and placed with rescue organizations across the country to be made available for adoption. Some will be transferred to the ASPCA's Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, located in Madison, New Jersey, to treat the extreme psychological damage they endured.
This adoption event was a vital part of the overall effort in Moulton, and its success clearly hinged on the participation of community residents ready to demonstrate their capacity for compassion.
We were not surprised by the enthusiastic turnout. In fact, there are compassionate people like this across the country, and it’s critical to connect their compassion to causes that save and protect animal lives. Some people are already inspired and active; others are just waiting for a local event like this to capture their concern.
So what does such an active community look like? On Saturday we saw plenty of outstanding examples:
Moulton residents Brandon and Lindsey Myers, alongside their daughter Rayleigh, 14, and seven-month-old son Crimson, adopted two kittens – one orange-and-white, the other black. “We wanted to rescue an animal from this situation,” Brandon told us. “I reckon my wife and daughter each picked one out… I guess we’ve got big hearts.”
Baxter, a gray Lab mix puppy, was found in critical condition during the rescue and was rushed to the Moulton Veterinary Hospital. There he was treated for canine distemper, a contagious and dangerous viral disease. Baxter was adopted by Dan Mobley and Kristie Oldaker from Huntsville, Alabama, along with their sons Matthew, 11, and Noah, 10.
Sloan Kirby, a nurse and mother from Trinity, Alabama adopted Chloe, a tabby kitten. Chloe was one of more than 40 cats and kittens found in a filthy outdoor pen filled with overflowing litter boxes and surrounded by chicken wire.
Bambi, a lab/hound mix, was adopted by Anna and Stephen McCollum and their daughter, Maddie, 3, of Trinity, Alabama. “We saw the news story and it touched our hearts,” said Anna. “We wanted to do something to help these innocent animals.” After Maddie rang the adoption bell, she gave Bambi this welcoming hug.
This was a busy month in Moulton. But we were constantly motivated not only by the humane work we were committed to doing, but by the many hundreds of average people who showed up – and stepped up – to help us do it.
On June 30, acting at the request of local law enforcement, the ASPCA assisted in the rescue and removal of 300 dogs and cats from a neglectful animal shelter in Moulton, Alabama. Now, nearly one month later, we are thrilled to announce that the majority of the rescued animals are happily in forever homes. Some were reunited with loving families in the weeks following the raid, while approximately 250 others were placed up for adoption at an ASPCA adoption event in Hillsboro, Alabama, on July 25 and 26.
At the event, more than 900 people from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and the surrounding areas came to show their support—and 202 dogs and cats were adopted! Here’s a look at some of the happy new beginnings that were created over the weekend:
Daisy Mae, a large hound/Shepherd mix who was once a mother to multiple litters of puppies, was adopted by Jason C. of Decatur, Alabama. He had been following the story of the ASPCA’s rescue and said the animals’ plight brought him to tears. Jason was searching for a companion for his 6-year-old mixed breed, Tango, when he met Daisy Mae. “I promise she is in good hands now,” he said.
Mr. Bear, an 8-year-old Lab/pit bull mix was suffering from a host of medical issues following his rescue from the neglectful shelter. But that didn’t deter Pam W. of Trinity, Alabama, from adopting Mr. Bear (and his bagful of medications). “He’s old and nobody would take him,” she said. “And that’s one of those things that jumps out and grabs you.”
Howdy, a brown hound mix, was adopted by Gabriel G. of Union Grove, Alabama. A test engineer for a contracting company for NASA, Gabriel was eager to provide a better life for Howdy. “This is a privilege,” he said, referring to the opportunity to adopt. “And I’m excited to get him out of this situation.”
Tara, a pit bull, was adopted by Karen and Rodney R. of Sheffield, Alabama. “We love pits,” said Karen. She and Rodney have four teenagers and two other pit bulls at home, Abby and Lilly. “They’re our 4-legged full-time babies.”
Mona, an almost-hairless terrier mix, was adopted by Misty and Jerry C. “She’s going to be a beautiful dog one day,” said Jerry, a Marine who is not currently in active service. Misty and Jerry both agree it was “the need” that drew them to Mona. After they rang the adoption bell, Jerry said, “Ringing of the bell is a Naval signature of giving up, but in Mona’s case it’s a signature of a new start.”
These are just some of the many new families that your support helped create. For a closer look at this important adoption event, check out our video below:
We cannot thank the kindhearted people of Alabama and the surrounding areas enough for coming to our event and opening their hearts to animals in need. If you are interested in adopting one of the remaining animals from this case, stay tuned to our blog for more information this week.
The ASPCA removed the animals from the tragic scene and transported them to a temporary shelter, where they have spent the last few weeks receiving medical care, behavioral enrichment and the kindness they so desperately needed. Now, with some heartwarmingly happy reunions under our belt, we are ready to begin searching for loving forever homes for hundreds of the animals rescued in this case. Animals like Lucy, Emma, Ashley, Fiji and Della.
Lucy is a very friendly pit bull mix who was found with her litter of five puppies, all of whom were gravely ill due to the shelter’s neglectful conditions. Sadly, the puppies did not survive—veterinary experts confirmed their cause of death as parvovirus, a highly contagious disease which could have been prevented by vaccinations. Lucy survived, and this sweet mama is now looking for a loving family to call her own.
Emma is a sassy senior who was discovered with skin infections and an ingrown collar. She was in so much pain that she would yelp as veterinary experts treated her wounds. Emma has recovered from her medical issues, and she is now a cheerful dog who loves people and is sure to make some lucky adopter very happy.
Ashley is a sweet 12-week-old Pointer mix who nearly died of distemper, a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. After receiving much-needed treatment and vaccines at the ASPCA’s medical unit, Ashley’s overall health improved and she recently joined the other dogs at our temporary shelter. She is shy at first, but is looking for an individual or family to give her a good home.
Fiji is a grey, domestic short hair cat who veterinary experts thought was blind due to her severe eye infection. With medical treatment and care, Fiji’s vision improved greatly, and the curious kitten has come out of her shell. With a bright future ahead, Fiji is eager to find a family who will love her forever.
Della is a senior dog who is blind, but that doesn’t hold her back! She is a very sweet pup who is fond of being petted and handled. The ASPCA is planning to take Della to a specialist to see if she is able to regain some of her vision, but what she wants most is a home to call her own.
Animal Planet has helped find loving homes for over 2,000 pets through a 17-city partnership with the ASPCA and animal shelters across America. As the culmination of these efforts, we teamed up with Animal Planet and PAWS Chicago to host the “Woofstock: Road to Puppy Bowl” Festival at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Saturday, June 27. Attendees visited the ASPCA booth throughout the day to sign our Adoption Pledge and download the new ASPCA app. The event featured dozens of adoptable animals from PAWS Chicago, and we were thrilled to see more than 60 of them found forever homes!
Advocates from across California met at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday to rally for stronger animal-welfare laws at the ASPCA’s second annual Paws for Celebration event—and got to meet some very cute, adoptable pets while they were at it!
Paws for Celebration brings the great work that shelters and rescues do for their communities to the lawn of the Capitol and shows policymakers how critical sheltering services are in California. The event featured an adoption fair with cats and dogs from nearly 20 local California shelters and rescue organizations. Palomacy Dove Rescue was also on-site with rescued birds, and even a rabbit named Donkey made an appearance.
When event-goers weren’t busy cuddling adoptable pets, they got down to serious legislative business at meetings with Legislators and their staff to urge the passage of strong animal-protection legislation, including Assembly Bills 316 and 317. If passed, these two important ASPCA-sponsored bills would enhance California law enforcement’s ability to investigate animal cruelty cases and increase emergency responders’ capacity to care for animals during natural disasters.
Attendees were even treated to a visit by ASPCA Celebrity Ambassador Katherine Schwarzenegger to show her support for the work local shelters do and to advocate for the passage of A.B. 316 and A.B. 317.
“As a lifelong Californian and parent to my own rescue dog, I am so grateful to the shelters and rescues that care for thousands of homeless animals across our state every day,” Schwarzenegger said. “We owe it to these organizations to ensure they have all the resources they need to continue providing these much-needed services.”
With nearly 100 attendees, Paws for Celebration quadrupled in size since last year’s event, sending a strong message to legislators that animal welfare is becoming increasingly important to Californians—and lawmakers agreed that stronger legislation is necessary.
“The ASPCA provides critical services to these animals in California and across the nation,” said Assembly Member Brian Maienschein of Poway, who was present at the event. “I am proud to be the sponsor of two bills this session which will ensure that the ASPCA and other organizations can aid California’s pets in the event of a large-scale cruelty case or disaster situation.”
Also in attendance were Assembly Members Matt Dababneh, Marc Steinorth, William Brough, David Hadley, Patrick O'Donnell and Matthew Harper, all of whom are working on important animal welfare legislation this session that ranges from helping dogs and cats used in tax-payer funded research to strengthening penalties for acts of cruelty towards animals in sanctuaries and shelters to providing tax incentives for animal adoptions.
We want to thank the advocates who were able to join us for this exciting event and all of our supporters in California and across the nation for continuing to stand by our side as we fight to protect animals.
Don’t miss your state’s next lobby day or adoption event! Sign up to receive ASPCA Advocacy Alerts to stay up-to-date on fun and informative events near you.