Humane Rescue Alliance

Advocating for animal-friendly communities. Strengthening the animal-human bond.

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Online Learning

Online Learning

See below for short lessons about the Humane Rescue Alliance and the animals we care for. Check back often for new lessons!

** New lesson added June 4, 2020. **

ANIMAL CAREERS
HUMANE HEROES
INFORMATION FOR YOU AND YOUR PET
ANIMALS
 


Now is your chance to be part of the research team!

Join us! Learn what the DC Cat Count study is and how it is conducted; plus develop your own research skills during the process. You and your family may even want to consider participating in the camera trapping effort. Click the link below to understand how the DC Cat Count team is developing tools for counting cats so that animal shelters and leaders in our community can offer the best care for cats and make sure their population management methods are effective. The Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) and its partners—American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Humane Society of the United States, and PetSmart Charities—are building these tools in Washington, D.C., and the District will be an example for other communities interested in better understanding their cat populations.

Click here to become part of the DC Cat Count research team!


Animal Careers

Meet HRA staff with interesting jobs who help care for and protect animals in need. 

Meet HRA's Officers 


Four Questions to Answer After Viewing the Video 

  1. What number can you call to report a sick, injured, lost, abused, or abandoned animal? 
  2. When can you call HRA? 
  3. How many days a week are officers available in the District of Columbia? 
  4. What animals will HRA officers help? 
     

SAFETY TIP: Please don’t approach a sick, injured, lost, abused, or abandoned animals. If you see an animal who needs help, call (202) 576-6664. Officers are trained to help animals so that the animal and the officer remain safe. 


NEXT STEPS

  • Add HRA (202-576-6664) to your favorite contacts in your phone. 
  • Take the pledge: I pledge to protect animals from cruelty or harm. I will report any abandoned, abused, neglected, or injured animal to the Humane Rescue Alliance. 

Meet Dr. Nelson  


Four Questions to Answer After Viewing the VideO 

  1. What kind of medicine does Dr. Nelson practice? 
  2. What skills did Dr. Nelson mention are important to have in order to do her job effectively? 
  3. Where is Dr. Nelson from? 
  4. What did Dr. Nelson teach in India?  
     

INTERESTING FACTS:

  • Dr. Nelson mentioned that she had a liberal arts degree. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College.
  • There are currently 30 colleges of veterinary medicine and just under 200 human medical schools in the United States. 

Advice from Dr. Nelson:

My recommendation for anyone interested in becoming a veterinarian (shelter or otherwise) is to research the educational and work requirements for vet school early on. There are lots of prerequisites to becoming a veterinarian and since it's an intensive career, you want to be sure that it's something you want to do for the rest of your life. Of course, there is more than one pathway to vet school! Since I decided to become a veterinarian later in life, after I graduated from college, it took me an extra three years of science classes before I could apply to vet school. But I don't regret a day of it! I got to travel the world, learn another language, and work in a few different career paths before deciding that veterinary medicine was right for me. 


Meet Shakela Brown: Learn More About HRA's HOPE Program

FOUR QUESTIONS TO ANSWER AFTER VIEWING THE VIDEO

  1. What does the HOPE acronym stand for: HELP OUT, PARTNER, and _____?
  2. What time does Shak get up in the morning in order to pick up animals and transport them to HRA's medical center in time for spay/neuter surgery?
  3. What other jobs did Shak have at HRA prior to overseeing the HOPE program?
  4. What kind of program is HOPE, punitive or preventive?

INTERESTING FACTS: 

  • In 2019, 506 cats and dogs were spayed or neutered through HRA's HOPE program
  • In 2019, nearly 38,000 pounds of dry cat and dry dog food were distributed to Pet Pantry clients. That's almost as much as the weight of:
    • One blue whale (40,000 lbs)
    • Three elephants (12,000 lbs each)
    • One mobile home (40,000 lbs)
    • Two garbage trucks (18,000 lbs each)
  • In 2019, nearly 9,000 cans of wet cat and dog food were distributed to Pet Pantry clients. That is more than:
    • Three small hippopotamuses and less than four large hippopotamuses (2,500-3,300 lbs each)
    • More than two Ford F150 pickup trucks (4,330 lbs each)
  • In 2019, more than 3,000 lbs. of cat litter were distributed to Pet Pantry cat owners. That's about the same as:
    • One Toyota Prius
    • 15 refrigerators (average 200 lbs each)

What Can You Do to Support HRA's HOPE Program:

In addition to providing spay/neuter surgery, food, and cat litter, the HOPE program also distributes toys and pet supplies to pet owners. Check out the Projects to do at Home page and consider making toys or beds to donate o the HOPE program. HRA will be happy to receive these items once regular business hours resume.


Information for You and Your Pet

Be Prepared - Have an Emergency Pet Plan in Place

(added April 17, 2020)

Ready or Not, Here it Comes by Howard Edelstein

FOUR QUESTIONS TO ANSWER AFTER VIEWING THE VIDEO

  1. Identify three natural disasters that may cause a family to leave their home temporarily?
  2. Where do Fanny and her family go during the hurricane in Ready or Not, Here it Comes?
  3. How was Fanny able to get out of the fenced-in yard after the hurricane?
  4. How did the shelter staff know who to call when Fanny was brought to the shelter?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Howard Edelstein has been helping animals for decades. He regularly assists animal welfare organizations, including HRA, in many ways -- from computer support to adoption events and dog walking. In 2003, Howard, an avid runner, created the annual Poplar Spring Run for the Animals in Montgomery County, Maryland to support rescued farm animals. Howard’s book, Ready or Not, Here it Comes, draws on his experiences from the frontlines; he is often called to help temporarily shelter animals in pop-up facilities as a result of natural disasters and large-scale animal cruelty cases, such as hoarding situations and puppy mills.

In May 2013 a catastrophic tornado ripped through the town of Moore, OK, causing severe damage that displaced many animals. Three temporary shelters were set up to care for the animals. Shelter staff and volunteers, including Howard, created a bulletin board to display each animal’s photo; when visitors recognized their pet, they were taken through the makeshift kennels to positively identify their companion animal. “It was heartwarming to help reunite pets with their families.”  Click here for more information about the Moore, Oklahoma 2013 tornado. 

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR PET IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY

  • Read the book or watch the video Ready or Not, Here it Comes.
  • Make a safety plan before disaster strikes.
    • Determine where you and your pet will safely go during an evacuation - that might be to a friend or family member's home, a government-provided shelter, or a hotel/motel.
      • Go Pet Friendly lists pet-friendly hotels and campgrounds.
  • Make sure that your pet's vaccinations are always up to date.
    • Pets should be microchipped and wear current ID tags, too.
  • Have a picture available that shows you with your pet. If your pet gets lost you can show the photo to neighbors and shelter staff. The photo will prove that your pet belongs with you.

ASSEMBLE AN EMERGENCY KIT FOR YOUR PET

  • A week's supply of food and treats in an airtight, waterproof container
  • A week's supply of drinking water
  • A manual can opener
  • Food and water bowls
  • Plastic bags, paper towels, and cleaning supplies
  • A collar and leash with ID and rabies tags
  • A recent photo of you with your pet
  • Vaccination records
  • Medication (if necessary)
  • Toys (always a good idea!)
  • A blanket
  • Towels
  • A copy of emergency phone numbers including the veterinarian's information
  • Pet first aid book & kit

Download this Pet Emergency Kit.

For more information on how to keep your pet safe during a disaster check out Red Rover's Pet Disaster Preparedness.

ASSEMBLE AN EMERGENCY KIT FOR YOU

Check out suggestions from:

  • Ready.Gov
  • American Red Cross
  • Center for Disease Control
  • What snacks will you pack?
  • What favorite books and games will you pack?
  • Do you have a favorite stuffed animal to bring?

FREE STICKER ALERT!

Sometimes disaster strikes with no warning. Many animals have been rescued from burning homes because firefighters saw the In Case of An Emergency Pets Inside Alert Sticker on a door or window. Click here to obtain a FREE In Case of An Emergency Pets Inside Alert Sticker Pack.

GOOD BOOKS TO READ ABOUT ANIMALS AND HURRICANES

 


Humane Heroes

Meet Rodney, A Humane Hero

(added April 9, 2020)

When Animal Control Officer Ryan Jesien responded to a call about a stray cat in a house, he did not realize that the cat was actually trapped below the floorboards. And, when Rodney, a 7th grader, at Johnson Middle School in the District of Columbia, first heard a cat’s cries he did not realize that the cat was inside his home. It didn’t take long, however, for Rodney, and his family, to determine that the panicky mews were coming from beneath their feet! Rodney investigated; he uncovered a vent and shone a light into the darkness. There, staring up at him, was a bedraggled, scared, wide-eyed cat. A family member looked up the Humane Rescue Alliance’s number and called for help. 

Officer Jesien eyeballed the space and knew immediately that he would not be able to squeeze into the opening left by the uncovered vent. Rodney was absolutely certain that he could lower himself down through the opening in the floor. “It’s not very big, I’m skinny, so I knew I would fit, he later said. 

With his mother’s permission, Rodney volunteered to attempt the cat’s rescueHe went into the opening feet first. Following Officer’s Jesien’s instructions, Rodney placed a humane trap a short distance from the cat. Once back on solid flooring Rodney waited. “I stayed quiet,” said Rodney. It didn’t take long; the hungry cat went for the food at the back of the trap, and the door of the trap closed behind her, securing her safe inside. Officer Jesien was summoned back to the house t take the cat to the shelter for a medical exam and care.

“The ear-tipped cat was dusty, thin, and appeared dehydrated. However, even in her debilitated state, she began purring/head-butting,” said Officer Jesien. The kitty continued to show her sweet personality in the shelter, and it didn’t take long before she was adopted into a new home.

FOUR QUESTIONS TO ANSWER AFTER READING THE ARTICLE

  1. What number did Rodney call for help?
  2. Who did Officer Jesien ask for assistance?
  3. How did Rodney know he could fit in the tight space?
  4. Why did the cat go into the trap?

INTERESTING FACT:

  • Cats are mathematical geniuses. By using their whiskers as measuring sticks, they can determine whether or not they can fit into tight spaces.
    • A cat's whiskers - or vibrissae (dictionary definition -- any of the stuff hairs that are located on the face and especially about the snout of many mannals and typically serve as tactile organs) - are a well-honed sensory tool that helps a cat see in the dark and steer clear of hungry predators.
    • Check out: Why Do Cats Have Whiskers

DID YOU KNOW:

  • A humane trap is a long metal box that is used to safely catch a cat by applying a simple spring system. In order to lure the cat into the trap, food is placed at the very back next to a trip plate. Then, when the cat is fully inside the trap and steps on the trip plate the bar holding the door open releases, snapping the door of the trap shut and trapping the cat inside. The door automatically drops down and locks in place. Once inside, the cat cannot get out of the trap until someone opens the door.
  • An eartip is the universally-recognized symbol of a cat who has been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their outdoor home. Because most cats who are returned to their outdoor home (instead of adopted into an indoor-only home) are not social, it can be difficult to determine if a cat is spayed/neutered and vaccinated--the ear tip is a quick and easy sign, visible from a distance. Eartipping is a standard part of most Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs. Eartips are a critical safeguard for outdoor cats, identifying them as cats who live in the community.
    • To learn more about HRA's Community Cats, click here.

UPDATE:

The rescued cat's new family named her KoKo. They adopted a second cat who they named, Kion. KoKo is estimated to be five or six-years-old and Kion is not quite a year-old. KoKo's new guardian reported that KoKo is the quiet, reserved one; she is still settling in. For now, KoKo has opted to sleep under the bed rather than on top of it. Pictured below: KoKo taking a break from her dinner while her new family member sits and waits.

 

 


Animals

Meet Melanie and Hammy

(Added May 13, 2020)

Four Questions to Answer After Viewing the Video

  1. Where was Hammy living before Melanie adopted him?
  2. What mark is permanently on the inside of Hammy's left ear?
  3. What kinds of industries test products on animals?
  4. Why are beagles commonly used to test products in laboratories?

WHAT IS ANIMAL TESTING?

Cruelty Free International defines animal testing as:

Any scientific experiment or test in which a live animal is forced to undergo something that is likely to cause them pain, suffering, distress, or lasting harm. Animals used in laboratories are deliberately harmed, not for their own good, and are usually killed at the end of the experiment.

Animals are used in biomedical research (drugs and surgical techniques) and product safety testing (household products, cosmetics).

ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL TESTING?

Yes, there are numerous safe, effective, and cost-saving alternatives to animal testing. These include complex tests using human cells and tissues, advanced computer modeling, and studies with human volunteers. To learn about alternatives to animal testing check out the following websites:

CHANGES IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

A number of organizations have waged successful and continuing campaigns to promote the purchase of cruelty-free products instead of those tested on animals, and consumers are paying attention! Cruelty-free, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), refers tproducts and the ingredients in the products have not been tested on animals. These products are widely available and consumers (just like you!) are changing their purchasing behavior by choosing cruelty-free products.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE A MORE COMPASSIONATE CONSUMER?

Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo and use the Cruelty Cutter App to become a more compassionate consumer.

The Leaping Bunny Logo is the internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing consumers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it. The logo can be seen on packaging, advertising, and websites for cosmetics and household products around the world.  

The Leaping Bunny web site offers cruelty-free shopping guides, suggestions on how to become a cruelty-free shopper, and ideas on how to encourage companies to eliminate animal testing and have their products certified cruelty-free. 

The Cruelty Cutter app helps consumers become more informed and thoughtful shoppers. Use the app to scan products and get immediate feedback. Alternative products are recommended when scanned products are not cruelty-free. For instance, a quick scan of Proctor and Gamble’s Tide detergent reveals that the frequently advertised laundry detergent is not cruelty-free, however, a click on the cruelty-free-alternative button brings up All detergent, a comparable product.

     

You can help animals just by shopping. Purchase products that proudly display the Leaping Bunny logo. Download the Cruelty Cutter app in the App Store or Google Play Store and use it every time you shop.

MORE ABOUT HAMMY

Hammy was rescued by The Beagle Freedom Project, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehoming animals used in experimental research. He, along with six other beagles, were released from a laboratory in the Washington, D.C. area in July 2013. Click here to watch the DC7 take their first steps on grass, run freely, and meet their foster parents and adopters.

Nowadays, Hammy and Melanie are discovering new parks and places to visit. Click here to read about some of those discoveries, Hammy is also participating in the People Animals Love (PAL) reading-to-dogs program. Sign up for one of PAL’s virtual reading sessions by clicking here. 

For now, Hammy is missing his role as an unofficial Beagle Freedom Project ambassador who visits Washington, D.C. classrooms and camps through HRA’s humane education programHe enjoys all of the Charlie Bear treats he gets during those visits and hopes to be back in the classroom soon.


Nigel by Debra K. Duel

(Added April 29, 2020) 

Four Questions to Answer After Viewing the Video

  1. What kind of dog was Nigel?
  2. How was Nigel mistreated?
  3. Who called the shelter to get help for Nigel?
  4. What did Nigel do in the library?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debra K. Duel has been working with children and animals in the District of Columbia for more than 30 years. In 1987 she launched the Washington Humane Society’s education program. In 2008 she joined the Washington Animal Rescue League to develop and implement a school-based humane education program emphasizing kindness, compassion, and social action. In 2016 the Washington Humane Society (WHS) and the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) joined forces to create the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA), the first regional, community-based, multi-state animal welfare organization in the nation. Currently, Debbie oversees HRA’s humane education program. Contact Debbie to learn more about HRA’s school program, summer camps, and special events for students or share your animal stories with her at [email protected].

ABOUT NIGEL

Nigel was adopted from the Washington Humane Society in December 2004. He visited many schools and libraries and made many friends. Nigel died in August 2016. He is deeply missed by his family, students, teachers, and countless others who were lucky enough to know the best dog in the world!

 

QUICK UPDATE FROM DEBBIE'S HOME

When my family adopted Nigel, in 2004, we shared our home with four cats. Currently, we are fortunate to live with two cats. Charlotte was adopted in 2010 and Murphy was adopted from HRA in 2016. For the most part, Charlotte and Murphy get along well; they both like helping me work from home.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT LABRADOR RETRIEVERS:

  • According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dogs in the United States since 1991.
  • Labrador Retrievers, also known as Labs, come in three colors: black, yellow, and chocolate (not brown).
  • Labrador Retrievers' tails are their most distinguishing feature, with a peculiar rounded appearance that has been described as the "otter" tail.
  • Labrador Retrievers have webbed feet and are known to be superior swimmers.
  • The Labrador Retriever does not come from Labrador but from Newfoundland.

A SILLY LABRADOR RETRIEVER JOKE

Q: What is the Labrador Retriever's best stroke?
A: The doggie paddle!

READING TO DOGS PROGRAMS IN THE METRO WASHINGTON, DC AREA:

People Animals Love (PAL) hosts reading to dogs programs at libraries, schools, and other locations in the District of Columbia region.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT DOGS WITH JOBS:


Introducing Francis and Her Pups

Four Questions to Answer After Viewing the Video

  1. Guinea pigs are pregnant between 59 and ____ days, or right around how many months?
  2. When guinea pig pups are born, they are fully covered in fur and have teeth ready to do what?
  3. What fruit shape did Francis look like when she was pregnant?
  4. What fruit or vegetable shapes do you think Francis' pups looked like shortly after they were born?

More guinea pig information

  • Guinea pigs love treats -- apples and strawberries are good, cucumbers and oranges, too. Be sure to peel the skin and remove the seeds before feeding them.
  • No chocolate, not ever! For that matter, no human treats - no cookies, cake, candy, or ice cream.
  • Where should a guinea pig live and with whom? Most ready-made cages are too small for housing guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are very social and enjoy living with a companion of the same sex. Consider making a guinea pig habitat with plenty of room for the guinea pigs to live comfortably.

Do you have guinea pigs living in cool habitats and want to share a picture? Send pictures to Debbie Duel, Director of Humane Education.

By the way, guinea pigs do not come from Guinea and they are not related to pigs!

Visit this website for even more information on how to care for guinea pigs.

A QUICK UPDATE FROM KATIE, FRANCIS' FOSTER MOM

  • What are Francis’ favorite treats?
    • Francis really loves apples, blueberries, and kale. She loves things with vitamin C. Guinea pigs need a good amount of vitamin C!
  • What does Francis like to do?
    • Like a pig – she loves to eat! She also loves to explore the room, and when I hold her, she enjoys having her head, face, and ears gently rubbed. She really dislikes her belly being touched, though.
  • Do you think that Francis is lonely?
    • I think Francis is happy that the babies found good homes, but she does miss having a guinea pig companion. I think she would love having a girl buddy that’s closer to her in age, maybe not full of as much energy as the babies had, but who can snuggle with her.

 

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