After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, The HSUS decided to create a permanent mobile response team to respond to animals in crisis situations – not only in the case of natural disasters but also in instances of human-caused crises.
It’s turned out that the demands on our team from human-caused crises – situations involving puppy mills, hoarding cases, animal fighting enterprises, and starvation cases, for example – have been endless, and our work to respond to them essential. I am so proud of the work the team does, turning around the lives of animals in a flash, in so many cases.
Yesterday our Animal Rescue Team helped with rescuing animals from two properties in Alcorn County, Mississippi – with 170 or so adult dogs, puppies, and other animals in terrible conditions at puppy mills there being surrendered to us and our on-the-ground partners. Our Mississippi state director, Lydia Sattler, got a tip about animals living in the worst possible circumstances. The dogs were being bred to be sold at a flea market in Tupelo, and the Alcorn-Corinth Animal Shelter became concerned about the welfare of these animals after receiving multiple complaints.
In addition to finding two deceased dogs, our team found 123 dogs and puppies living in deplorable conditions in raised wire cages, with no access to clean water or food. Many of the animals were underweight, and they were suffering from a multitude of untreated medical conditions including dental, eye, ear, and skin problems. Some of the animals had been living in a filthy, completely darkened shed. The animals squinted as our team members carried them out in their arms, perhaps because they had never before seen the full sun or direct light.
It was a sad scene but a superb team effort, with our HSUS Animal Rescue Team working with the Alcorn-Corinth Animal Shelter, All Animal Clinic, Atlanta Humane Society, Heinz Veterinary Services, the Humane Society of South Mississippi, Loving Friends Transport, Mississippi Animal Rescue League, Southern Pines Animal Shelter, and local veterinarians to assist law enforcement with the rescue and removal of all of the animals. We are especially grateful to Mayor Tommy Irwin and Street Commissioner Phillip Verdung, of Corinth, who stepped up to help in very material ways.
Rescuers also found cats, horses, ducks, chickens, roosters, bunnies, goats, a donkey, and a miniature pig many of them also denied the necessities of life. The owners agreed to surrender most of the animals, and the organizations involved are safely transporting the animals to various locations in Mississippi where they will be thoroughly examined by veterinarians and receive any necessary medical treatment. The dogs will be moved to the Humane Society of South Mississippi and the other animals will be moved to the Mississippi Animal Rescue League and other care providers in the state. Several of the horses will go to our own animal care centers, the Black Beauty Ranch and the Doris Day Equine Center.
From this day forward, they’ll experience an entirely different relationship with humankind, with good people attending to their needs, giving them food and shelter, and never causing them any harm.