Volunteers boost the HSUS’s critical work during coronavirus crisis

Volunteers boost the HSUS’s critical work during coronavirus crisis

State Council member Hope Philips in Texas did a social isolation virtual walkathon with her dog, Pippa, raising $265 for the HSUS COVID-19 response.


One of the Humane Society of the United States’ greatest strengths is our army of volunteers. These are people across the country who take action in large numbers when we call upon them to help carry out our important work. Whether it involves gathering signatures for state ballot measures, reaching out to local media to promote our message, speaking in public, lobbying state and federal lawmakers, helping to operate temporary shelters after a rescue, leading a tour at a direct care center, or providing support at special events, these individuals make a difference every day for animals.

The HSUS has more than 2,000 active volunteers nationwide and in 2019 alone, those volunteers clocked over 90,000 hours of work for us. During the coronavirus pandemic, despite their own personal and professional challenges, they are stepping up to help us at a time when we need their help the most, with more dedication and determination than ever before.

In Michigan, for example, volunteer members of our State Council and District Leader programs teamed up with our state director Molly Tamulevich to help low income seniors procure food for their companion animals. Together, they mapped out and cross-referenced all of the housing sites with a map of local pet food banks. Volunteers also called housing managers to inform them where they could find local resources to support seniors with pets. The project was so successful that other state directors have since created similar projects in California, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia.

In Connecticut, State Council members and District Leaders have begun calling the 408 food pantries statewide to see which ones carry pet food. Working with state director Annie Hornish, they are compiling a database of municipal animal shelters and private shelters that are providing pet food to needy families. They’ll use Google Maps to pinpoint the shelter locations, making it easy for people to quickly identify the best sources of food and supplies for their pets’ needs.

Sanctuaries of all kinds are also in great need just now, and a host of volunteers stepped up to help Cheryl Jacobson in our equine campaign check in with sanctuaries in the Homes for Horses Coalition. Cheryl was moved by this help, and reports that the groups were incredibly grateful to hear from us and to know we cared about how they’re doing.

HSUS District Leaders are also keeping their eyes open for information on wildlife markets so we can address them as a policy matter in state legislative sessions. It is believed that the novel coronavirus originated in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, but the fact is that we have wildlife markets in the United States as well. Now more than ever, we must redouble our efforts to stop markets that cause immeasurable animal suffering globally and stateside.

Some of our volunteers are coming up with their own ideas to help animals, like State Council member Hope Philips in Texas who did a social isolation virtual walkathon with her dog, Pippa, raising $265 for the HSUS COVID-19 response.

If you’re willing we could use your help, too. There are many ways to volunteer with the HSUS—from helping out at our care centers and serving with our rescue and response teams to organizing events and grassroots outreach in your community and more. We have opportunities all around the country, and virtual, too, so you don’t even have to leave your home to have an impact.

During National Volunteer Week this week, we salute the amazing individuals who have chosen to support our work, and we applaud their verve and drive to make the world a better place for animals. If you are interested in volunteering for the HSUS, please sign up here. The animals need you, and we cannot do this important work without you.



Companion Animals, Equine

Published at Tue, 21 Apr 2020 20:34:37 +0000

Pets for Life brings lifesaving services to underserved areas amidst pandemic

Since early March, our Pets for Life team and mentorship partners around the country have been out helping the people and pets who are extremely vulnerable during the pandemic. Photo by Nicole Rosenberg

Many communities hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis are those that were already underserved. These are the communities that have high rates of poverty and limited access to veterinary and other pet care services but where we see so much love and heartwarming bonds between people and their animals. It’s the reason we created our Pets for Life program nine years ago, to increase access to pet resources and provide services at no cost so pets and their families can stay together.

Now, with a pandemic raging across the country, this work has become more important than ever.

With lockdowns in place in most states, supplies and services are harder than ever to access. Since early March, our Pets for Life team and mentorship partners around the country have been out helping the people and pets who are extremely vulnerable during the pandemic. We are on the ground providing them the support they need, from urgent veterinary care and pet food to other supplies like cat litter and crates.

Pets for Life has a large footprint at our flagship locations in Philadelphia and Los Angeles where Humane Society of the United States staff runs this program, and in 50 more communities through mentoring programs and grants. During the crisis, we have taken our services to pet owners in places ranging from a halfway house and a homeless encampment in Los Angeles to Native American land in Montana and Minnesota, and from city neighborhoods in Philadelphia to some of the remotest lands in Alaska.

This is especially rewarding work, because we see firsthand the impact it has on individuals and their beloved animals—people like Amalia, who lives in North Philadelphia and suffers from many health issues, which make it difficult for her to get around. She has two dogs, Fiero and Galan, and a bird, Jay, who are everything to her. Pets for Life has been providing Amalia’s pets with services for five years, and last month, as the lockdowns began, we made sure she had enough bird and dog food and other supplies to last her for months.

In late March, we were in Alaskan Native villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, where the only way pet owners can get access to resources is by traveling by boat or plane to the nearest town, Bethel. The cost of shipping in supplies is high, which means it is difficult for most to afford food and other items . But there are hundreds of dogs living in this area, and with help from the ASPCA we were able to get more than 8,000 pounds of food to our local mentorship partner, Bethel Friends of Canines, to distribute as needed to dog owners in the villages. One pet owner sent us this heartwarming note: “Thanks to you guys my dog got her life now, she was weak and very light and now is doing awesome.”

In early April, at Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, the tribal police department that runs the Pets for Life program distributed pet food and people food to members of the community. Within an hour, the team had provided food to more than 100 families.

Even as we do this lifesaving work, we are taking steps to ensure that we protect the health of our staff and the community. During normal times, we and our partner organizations go door to door, building trusting relationships with pet owners and a consistent community presence. During the pandemic, we are checking in with people via phone and text. When out in the community to provide supplies, we wear personal protective equipment at all times and make no-contact deliveries.

As of last month, our Pets for Life program has served more than 200,000 pets and their people. That number will continue to increase during the pandemic and because of rising unemployment. We will continue to connect with people and bring them resources and supplies for their pets and with your support we’ll reach many more. This unique program that honors and celebrates the human-animal bond has helped save tens of thousands of lives, and it is more needed than ever in these difficult times.

Help keep people and pets together


Companion Animals

Published at Mon, 20 Apr 2020 19:25:08 +0000

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