By Wayne Pacelle
Katrina was a wake-up call to The HSUS and to the rest of the animal protection movement that we had to amp up our disaster response
capabilities. From that point forward, I thought we needed a capability
to respond not only to natural disasters, but also human-caused crises,
such as puppy mills, hoarders, or animal fighting operations.
Last year, under the direction of Emergency Services director Scotlund Haisley, we had more than 40 deployments—one every nine days. And the pace is just as brisk this year.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our intervention in Nebraska to save 200 starving horses, with nearly half of the horses going to our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. During this last week, we've had two more.
Yesterday we helped to rescue nearly 400 American Eskimo dogs from a puppy mill in Washington state,
where the dogs had been living in deplorable conditions, confined to
shopping carts and rusty cages caked with waste. And last week we
assisted in the seizure of 374 neglected animals—dogs, horses, exotic birds, rabbits and more—from a ranch in Wisconsin, resulting in criminal animal cruelty charges being filed against the property owner.
In addition to strengthening our disaster response capacity, we've been expanding our presence in the states. We now have staff in 33 states, and we plan on covering every state as soon as resources allow.
state directors give us a leg up in learning of crisis situations and
then allowing us to coordinate with local law enforcement agencies and
local and national animal welfare groups. Many of these operations—as
was the case with the Wisconsin raid and with a recent puppy mill bust in Arkansas—are
set into motion with investigative work by HSUS staff in the respective
states after receiving tips from concerned community members.
There's no group like The HSUS, with the range of tools and
resources we have. And one great measure of our work are the tens of
thousands of little lives spared from misery and cruelty due to our
interventions. Last year alone, The HSUS provided hands-on care to more
than 70,000 animals, whether they were rescued from floods or fires,
abusive puppy mills or animal fighting operations, spayed and neutered
through our programs, or provided medical care through our sanctuaries or rural veterinary programs.
This piece is reprinted from A Humane Nation, the blog of Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, where it originally appeared on May 28, 2009. (Photo courtesy of Humane Society.)