Last Friday afternoon, HSUS staffers received an email update from Scotlund Haisley, our senior director of Emergency Services. On the eve of the Memorial Day weekend, we read about the incredible work our Emergency Services team has accomplished over the last few weeks—bringing animals from disaster to safety in Chile; the rescue and transport of more than 50 dogs from an overwhelmed Kentucky sanctuary to the Humane Society of Broward County in Florida and new beginnings for them; and deployments to Arkansas and Oklahoma to care for animals displaced by tornadoes. (You can help with our response to these and future crises with a contribution to our Disaster Relief Fund.)
A portion of Scotlund’s message was especially touching, and I wanted to share it with you below.
P.S. In April, Oprah devoted the full hour of her show to an exposé of puppy mills in America. She’s rebroadcasting the entire segment tomorrow, so tune in and please tell others who might have missed the first airing that it’s slotted for tomorrow. The Oprah Winfrey Show’s investigation into the mistreatment of dogs at puppy mills was one of the most talked-about segments she’s produced. It’s not to be missed, so check your local market for times.
This shepherd-lab mix was among 100 dogs brought
to the temporary shelter our team helped to set up.
Our team of disaster responders has worked tirelessly for the past two weeks in Chile, attending to the needs of animals left behind when the Chaiten volcano erupted and people fled neighboring communities. Despite many obstacles, the team did a terrific job of coordinating sheltering and care for the rescued animals. They also provided valuable training to local animal welfare groups, whose missions had never before included emergency rescue or sheltering.
One dog’s story exemplifies the impact our team made in Chile. The dog, probably a shepherd-lab mix, was rescued from the ashes. An older dog, his muzzle was grey and his step not-so-lively. When he was brought out by the military he was put in a large pen with many other dogs. But he was bullied by the younger, stronger ones, and he became more and more depressed as he shivered in the cold. His head hung and his body went limp as he sunk deeper into misery.
Our team members saw him and went over to pet him. As their hand touched his forehead, his pleading eyes closed and his whole body relaxed. The rescuers said he seemed to forget all the hurt, the cold, the hunger, and the loneliness, and just melted into their touch. They quickly brought him blankets, and moved him away from the other dogs. Finally, when the truck arrived to transfer the animals to the nearest veterinary school for treatment, they placed this old friend at the head of the line and sent him wishes for a reunion with his evacuated family.
A little tenderness for an old dog in a strange place. Like this cat paw print in the ash, our team left their mark in Chile.
Emergency Services is here to help animals in distress. These last few weeks have shown the skills, experience, determination and spirit our team possesses to fulfill our mission. When animals are suffering, we will be there.