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.
When the ASPCA rescues animals from puppy mills, hoarding situations, dog fighting rings, natural disasters and other emergencies, we rely on animal shelters and rescue groups nationwide to assist with the placement of rescued dogs and cats for adoption. These ASPCA Response Partners provide former victims of cruelty with the opportunity to experience lives as beloved pets, and without their help, our capacity to assist animals across the country would be diminished.
Over the past year, five of our Response Partners went above and beyond in answering our call to help cruelty victims in need. In recognition of their efforts, we would like to acknowledge the following organizations for their outstanding work in recent sheltering and rescue operations:
Montgomery Humane Society of Montgomery, Alabama
Cedar Bend Humane Society of Waterloo, Iowa
Margaret B. Mitchell Spay/Neuter Clinic of Bristol, Virginia
Quincy Humane Society of Quincy, Illinois
Angels of Assisi of Roanoke, Virginia
Thank you to these five organizations—and to all of our amazing Response Partners nationwide! We are grateful to these organizations for making hundreds of animal adoptions possible.
We have good news to report in the aftermath of our recent rescue operation in Alabama, where we removed more than 300 dogs and cats from filthy, deplorable conditions at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter. Several victims from this raid have been reunited with their families after the ASPCA began urging those with missing pets to visit our temporary shelter.
Jared A. and his family were overjoyed to be reunited with their pit bull, Rusty, who went missing over a year ago. When Rusty disappeared, Jared put up “missing” posters around the neighborhood and posted pleas on social media to no avail. After the ASPCA shared news of the rescue operation on Facebook, Jared spotted a photo of Rusty. He contacted us, and we were able to quickly reunite Jared with his beloved pet. He then took Rusty home and posted a heartwarming video of his son JC, being reunited with Rusty for the first time.
We’re so glad to see Rusty and other animals rescued in this operation back in happy, loving homes.