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.
Many of you may remember Dash: The four-year-old Cane Corso was a staff favorite who spent over a year at the ASPCA. In April, he was featured in our Adoption Spotlight, and soon after that, he found a forever home. We recently checked in with Dash’s adopter to see how this “gentle giant” is enjoying his new life, and we are thrilled to bring you an update today. Here is Dash’s Happy Tail.
In April 2014, the NYPD rescued Dash and three other dogs from extreme cruelty in Queens, New York. He was brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where he arrived with severe skin disease, stomach issues and a timid but kind personality. Dash spent the next eight months in the hospital, where he received weekly baths to soothe his skin and melatonin to calm his nerves. It was clear that this special boy needed some extra TLC, so ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Jasmine Bruno offered to take him in as a foster pet.
In Dr. Bruno’s home, the big brindle pup continued to come out of his shell. “Dash is an incredible dog who I would say is the perfect definition of a ‘gentle giant,’” Dr. Bruno reported. “He can be a little shy at first…But all he wants is a companion that will give him the same amount of affection that he gives non-stop.”
In April 2015, Dash’s time under our care passed the one-year mark. We wanted so badly to find him a forever home, and fortunately, Angelika P. of Newton, Pennsylvania, came to his rescue. “I wanted to give a less fortunate animal a home where patience and love were a given,” says Angelika, who had previous experience fostering dogs rescued from abuse. She was also looking for a large-breed dog because she wanted to help fight misconceptions and educate people about their potential. “When I saw Dash on the website, I immediately knew he was perfect,” she says.
Already a pet-parent to a mixed-breed pooch named Lushbrick, Angelika was eager to meet Dash in person. She and “Lush” met him at a park, and he instantly felt like part of the family. “Everything about his personality was awesome, and Lush instantly picked up with him, wanting to protect him from other dogs. Not to mention, he’s such a handsome boy!”
Angelika adopted Dash on April 28, and since then, he has proven to be everything she had hoped for and more. “It amazes me how Dash evolves more and more every day. My family and I seem to be constantly saying, ‘Wow! Did you see what Dash did today? He never does that, or he’s normally scared of that!’” she says with pride. And he has definitely found comfort in his new home—Lushbrick won’t leave his side (and he won’t have it any other way)! Angelika says, “Dash is a real-life BFG (Big Friendly Giant).”
Reflecting on Dash’s difficult past, Angelika says, “It breaks my heart that people who cannot be responsible for their pets break that trust with abuse, neglect or abandonment. I wanted a rescue dog to know commitment, and above commitment, to know unconditional love.” We think she’s given that to Dash in spades, and for that we are so grateful. Congrats, Dash!
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.
This August marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which forever changed the way America responds to natural disasters.
The ASPCA knows firsthand that disasters create impossible and heartbreaking scenarios for both animals and the people who risk their own safety to rescue them. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we worked with animal welfare professionals and volunteers in Louisiana to help rescue, reunite, and re-home more than 8,000 animals stranded by the storm.
During disasters like hurricanes, fires and floods, the ASPCA and other non-governmental agencies play a crucial role in protecting animals and assisting with recovery efforts through search and rescue operations and set-up of emergency veterinary clinics, emergency boarding facilities, and pet supply distribution centers—at no cost to taxpayers. Given the size and expense of these efforts, it’s reasonable to expect that businesses regularly utilizing animals be required to prepare for emergencies and have comprehensive response plans in place to protect the animals in their care.
Legislation introduced in Congress this month will ensure that businesses like zoos, research facilities and large-scale animal breeders are prepared if disaster strikes. The Animal Emergency Planning Act (H.R. 3193), bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), will require facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to develop disaster response plans and ensure that employees know what steps to take when an emergency occurs.
We need your help: Visit theASPCA Advocacy Center now to quickly and easily contact your U.S. representative in Washington and urge him or her to co-sponsor the Animal Emergency Planning Act.
Welcome to The Paw Print! In this recurring feature, we highlight the latest news affecting animals and animal-lovers around the country. Here are some of the top stories right now:
High School Student Bonds with Pig, Saves Her from Slaughter: Bruno, a California high school student, bonded with a pig named Lola through participation in his school’s Future Farmers of America® program. But when Lola was scheduled to be slaughtered, Bruno felt compelled to intervene. Now, Lola is living a happy life at a farm sanctuary. [The Dodo.com]
New York Museum to Feature Internet Cats in New Exhibition: The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York will feature a feline-themed exhibition titled “How Cats Took Over the Internet,” shining the spotlight on popular cat images and videos. The exhibition will run from August 2015 to January 2016. [DNAinfo.com]
Pet Store Employee’s Photos Reveal Puppy Mill Cruelty: A Pennsylvania woman used social media to share images revealing animal cruelty at the pet store where she works. Her photos showed that a shipment of puppies that arrived at the store—likely shipped from large, substandard breeding facilities known as a “puppy mills”—were denied basic treatment, and some even died in transport. [The Dodo.com]
Dog Food Company Recalls Treats after Salmonella Scare: The Natural Dog Company has recalled its 12-ounce bags of 12-inch Tremenda Sticks pet chews after determining that the treats may contain salmonella, which can cause serious illness in pets and humans. The treats were sold in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Washington. Customers are asked to contact the company for more information. [WKYC.com, a TENGA company]
Photos of Rabbits Taking Baths Draw Attention to Serious Pet Care Issue: While internet photos and videos of rabbits taking baths may seem cute, they are actually dangerous. Rabbits are inherently clean, and most rabbits never require a bath. Wet fur can lead to hypothermia or a respiratory infection, and hot water or blow-dryers can scald their skin. Water in rabbits’ ears can lead to ear infections, and damp fur can lead to parasitic infestations. [The Dodo.com]