From Australia to Lebanon, our rescue teams helped save thousands of animals affected by natural and manmade disasters
Each year, trained responders from the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International enter disaster zones to rescue and rehabilitate affected animals. Over the years, our teams have responded swiftly and effectively to situations ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes to floods to erupting volcanoes. They have worked with law enforcement officials in dozens of cases to rescue animals trapped in horrible situations of cruelty and neglect.
In 2020, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, our teams covered a tremendous amount of ground, helping wildlife and companion animals from Australia to Beirut, from Florida to Oregon, and many places in between.
These are some of the situations where we assisted in 2020:
- After wildfires destroyed two-thirds of Kangaroo Island in Australia, HSI’s Animal Rescue Team deployed there. Working with HSI/Australia, we assisted with search and rescue efforts on Kangaroo Island, saving and transporting approximately 200 koalas, wallabies and kangaroos. We also provided relief to local caretakers and grants to Australian groups working on habitat recovery and care of injured animals.
- In Beirut, Lebanon, a massive explosion resulting from nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate destroyed vast stretches of the city. With the country already reeling from economic collapse, political instability and the pandemic, this disaster resulted in hundreds of dogs and cats being lost, abandoned, injured or simply displaced. We arrived in Beirut two weeks after the initial blast to support a local group, Animals Lebanon, to care for rescued animals and assist with food deliveries, vaccinations, and reuniting lost animals with families.
- Our HSUS responders deployed three times for disasters this year and transported 557 animals out of shelters to provide space for incoming animals affected by the storms.
- After Hurricane Sally, our team provided assistance to Escambia County, Florida, by delivering food and supplies and transporting animals for veterinary care in affected communities.
- In Oregon, authorities from Lane County contacted us following wildfires that destroyed nearly 500 homes and 170,000 acres. They requested assistance with the trapping of owned cats in areas that were being evacuated. Over the following eight days our staff worked closely with officials from the Lane County Animal Services and the Greenhill Humane Society, helping rescue a number of cats. Many of the animals were reunited with their families.
- Our team deployed to the Gulf Coast to assist with the double threat of tropical storms Marco and Laura, evacuating 226 shelter pets, including 152 dogs and 74 cats, and transporting them to our incredible shelter and rescue partners in North Carolina and Tennessee.
- In Dixie County, Florida, we assisted local law enforcement authorities with a horrendous neglect case involving more than 140 badly suffering dogs who were either living in filthy, hutch-like structures outdoors or packed inside campers and a mobile home. Most of the dogs were suffering from skin conditions that included missing fur, sores and severe itches. Five individuals have since been arrested and charged with 145 counts each of first-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty. The animals were placed with our shelter partners for adoption.
- We continued to care for close to 200 cats rescued from an animal cruelty case in Pennsylvania in 2019. We had made a commitment to care for the animals and as a result we spent the entire year trying to get permanent custody so they could go to their forever homes. Unfortunately, this case is still held up in the courts.
- We provided resources and funds to local agencies responding to animal cruelty cases, assisting in the rescue of an additional 3,683 animals this year.
This is difficult work at any time and especially in a year as challenging as this one has been. But the reason we are able to do it is because we have the necessary expertise in-house, a robust network of partner shelters, law enforcement agencies that rely on us for assistance and the resources to help. We look back with pride at the fact that we could bring help to those who needed it the most in 2020. With your support, we will continue our work to assist animals trapped in dangerous situations from which they might otherwise never have an escape.