Red Star® Case Study: American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Rescue Efforts Enhanced with Mission Manager Incident Management Software

From saving injured horses on the bloody battlefields of World War I to rescuing pets and livestock during recent severe weather events, the American Humane Association’s Red Star® Rescue and Emergency Services for Animals has rushed to help injured, abused and neglected animals in need. Today, the Red Star team is able to do a better job than ever in rescuing animals with the assistance of Mission Manager’s cloud-based incident management software. Check out Mission Manager’s Red Star case study to learn how automation has enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the team’s life-saving missions – before, during and after their deployments.

Click here to download case study (PDF: 1.36 KB) or read content below:


Without a comprehensive volunteer management system in place, Red Star leaders needed to find a more efficient way to manage and track their nationwide volunteers. When an emergency occurred whether it was a natural disaster or animal cruelty case – team leaders had to callout members via email batches and track responses manually. They also had to check in/out volunteers on a clipboard sheet, track field activities by ham radio and phone, and produce reports by pen-and-paper.


Mission Manager provides an all-encompassing, automated solution for daily team management, mission execution and reporting. Now, with a click of a button, administrators can quickly deploy members based on qualifications, track volunteers and events in real time, and quickly produce reports for debriefs for reimbursements.


  • Increased response speed
  • Improved field communications
  • Enhanced situational awareness
  • Faster reimbursements
  • Reduction in human error

Lois Pope Red Star Rescue


The American Humane Association’s Red Star® Rescue and Emergency Services for Animals responds to natural and man-made disasters, including animal cruelty, to assist animals and communities in crisis. The team consists of a national roster of approximately 200 professionally trained staff and volunteers.

During the past 10 years, Red Star has saved and sheltered more than 80,000 animals. An 82-foot rescue rig – fully equipped for both animal rescue and veterinary services – is the centerpiece of a fleet of boats and vehicles ready to deploy anywhere in the country on a moment’s notice.

Founded in 1916 during World War I, Red Star has been involved in virtually every major relief effort, from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, as well as the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and most recently, the devastating floods in South Carolina.

Mission Manager, Inc. donated its incident management software to the Red Star team in September 2014 as part of its commitment to helping first responders save lives and property. Today, the team actively uses Mission Manager to manage its volunteer roster, deploy and track members during missions, and automate reports.

“With the support of Mission Manager, the Red Star team is able to do a better job than ever in saving animals.”

– Randall “Randy” Collins
National Director for Red Star Rescue and Emergency Services

Mission Manager red star imagesTHE CHALLENGE

Prior to adopting Mission Manager, the team did not have a comprehensive volunteer management system in place. Team leaders managed its volunteer roster by spreadsheet and deployed members via cut-and-paste email messages. Members were checked in/out of missions on a clipboard sheet, tasks and assignments were done by pen-and-paper, and reports typed up manually for reimbursements.

As a national organization with volunteers scattered throughout the country, it was clear that the team needed a more efficient way to manage and track their members before, during and after missions. They needed to find a more robust method to deploy their teams, especially during natural disasters when time was of the essence. They also needed to have better tools to prep for missions, particularly for animal cruelty cases that involved pre-planned raids.

“In the past, we managed our volunteers the old-fashioned way – practically on a stone tablet – which was very labor intensive,” said Dean Berenbaum, former American Humane Association Emergency Services Resource Manager who rolled out and customized Mission Manager for the Red Star team.

As an all-encompassing system, Mission Manager has made a tremendous difference for the team by integrating the volunteer roster, live mission data and reporting functions.

Mission Manager has been a godsend for the Red Star team – it’s comprehensive and very flexible,” said Berenbaum. “It has helped the team become much more efficient by simplifying the volunteer management process.”

Because Mission Manager allows the team to easily manage its personnel roster, it is a lot easier for administrators to do a callout and track the volunteers’ time on a deployment, he added.

“Now we have a database of our volunteers’ information at our fingertips, rather than having to rely on a glorified spreadsheet,” said Josh Cary, deputy director of Red Star team, who currently serves as the team’s primary administrator for Mission Manager.

“Administrators can now communicate more effectively with volunteers, regardless of their geographic region, because it is cloud-based in nature.”

Although Cary admits the team is “barely scraping the surface” of Mission Manager’s full functionalities, he is particularly impressed with the software’s ease-of-use, the roster and efficient three-way
callout feature. “We are delighted to use Mission Manager,” he said, “and are looking forward to getting more in-depth with the features so we can fully integrate it into our operations.”


  • Personnel Roster: The team relies heavily on the roster to determine who is field qualified and available for a mission. They need to make sure vaccinations are up-to-date, and see members’ qualifications for animal handling and equipment. “It’s a fabulous tool that shows volunteers’ specialties,” said Berenbaum. Best of all, the roster can be self-managed by the members per permission levels granted, which saves significant time for administrators.
  •  Callouts: In the past, the team handled its callouts by dividing up its roster, sending out several batches of email messages and tracking responses manually. “Now the callouts are super easy,” said Berenbaum. “You just type a message and hit ‘send,’ (either individually or as selected categories), and it’ll reach members by email, text or voice. That cuts hours of time when preparing for a deployment.”
  • Check in/out:  Prior to Mission Manager, the team leader tracked volunteers with check in/out forms, where members had to manually write their emergency contact information. “Now as teams assemble, all that information is in the system once they check in,” said Berenbaum.
  •  Task Assignments: Administrators can quickly assign tasks based on specialties, including dog teams, cat teams, etc., with a click drag-and-drop function. “That way everyone knows who’s where and doing what,” said Berenbaum.
  • Mapping/Situational Awareness: The team uses the mapping tool for preparation and real-time situational awareness during deployments. “The mapping tool is incredibly easy to use and especially useful when prepping for a mission,” said Berenbaum. “You can use Mission Manager offline (without internet services) to mark the location of the command post; animal shelters; and the nearest hospitals, urgent care clinics and hotels – and print it out for distribution to the team … If you dig even deeper, you can determine the weather at each location and much more – it’s like a treasure chest,” he said.
  • Tracking & Reporting: Mission Manager produces detailed mission reports following a deployment, saving administrators hours of time. “Mission Manager is a huge help with our timekeeping reports and After Action Reviews,” said Berenbaum, “The information from the radio logs self-populates the forms needed for reimbursements and automatically tracks the volunteers’ hours and expenses; whereas in the past, we’d have to deal with up to 30 sheets of paper to total up volunteer hours,” said Berenbaum, “And that was a massive chore.”



Mission Manager has supported numerous Red Star animal rescues that made national headlines, including:

American Humane Association’s Red Star® Rescue team involved in dramatic rescue effort underway in animal cruelty case involving 46 cats seized from Memphis-area home
American Humane Association’s 100-year old Red Star® Rescue Team Deploys to Save, Rehabilitate, and Care for Animals in City of Bartlett Animal Control’s investigation  (January 12, 2016)

National rescue team and giant truck arrive to help animals caught in historic South Carolina flooding
American Humane Association’s Red Star® Rescue Team and 50-foot Vehicle Deployed to Help Animals Following Devastating Rains and Floods (Oct. 29, 2015) .  

Dramatic rescue effort underway in animal cruelty case involving seven horses, mules, and a mini-horse
American Humane Association’s Red Star® Rescue Team Deploys to Save, Rehabilitate, and Care for Animals in Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Animal Cruelty Investigation (July 16, 2015)

American Humane Association deploys Red Star® Rescue Team to care for more than 80 dogs in Indiana
Team sets up temporary shelter to provide around-the-clock to care for dogs seized from Posey County home (June 12, 2015)

American Humane Association’s Red Star Rescue Team to help in New Jersey Animal Shelter Crisis
Volunteer team and 50-foot Lois Pope Red Star Rescue Vehicle arrive to help 91 cats and 15 dogs found in deplorable conditions, build a better future for thousands of animals (December 8, 2014)

Check out the videos below to see the Red Star team in action and learn more about their missions:

VIDEO: Red Star national transport: Hundreds of dogs rescued and get new leash on life

VIDEO: History of the American Humane’s Red Star Team

Mission Manager provides cloud-based software designed to help save lives and property by enabling first responders to operate more efficiently and effectively. Mission Manager’s team member and asset management capabilities, combined with its calendar and communication functions, allow users to enhance team readiness through optimized training and seamlessly integrate mission-specific operations during real-time events. Since 2011, Mission Manager has supported approximately 7,000 actual missions ranging from single-person rescues to large public events and full-scale natural disaster response. Mission Manager is currently used in all 50 US states, and on every continent except Antarctica. Truly a global tool, Mission Manager is available in 80 languages. 


Chesapeake Search Dogs & Search One Rescue Team Featured in POLICE Magazine Article, “Computerizing K-9 Search-and-Rescue”

Two high-profile K9 Search-and-Rescue teams that use Mission Manager for their training and deployments were recently featured in the POLICE Magazine article, “Computerizing K-9 Search-and-Rescue.” The article, which appears in POLICE Magazine’s March issue and  newsletter, shines the spotlight on Chesapeake Search Dogs and Search One Rescue Team and their vital support to the law enforcement community.

We are pleased to share excerpts from the article, below, which can also be downloaded here.


Volunteer K-9 groups that work with law enforcement to find missing persons use team management and incident command software to make their operations more efficient and effective

Search One Rescue Team, Chesapeake Search Dogs, Police Magazine, Mission Manager

K9 SAR teams that use Mission Manager – Search One Rescue Team and Chesapeake Search Dogs – talk about their role assisting Law Enforcement in this Police Magazine article.

The call can come any time, but usually it comes in the middle of the night. When it does, the volunteer K-9 teams from the Chesapeake Search Dogs and Search One Rescue Team remain ready to respond—at any hour of the day—to assist public safety personnel in finding lost and missing persons.

For more than a decade, the Chesapeake Search Dogs organization has partnered with the Maryland State Police, Maryland Natural Resources Police, federal and local law enforcement and other government agencies in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to provide K-9 search services at no cost.

In the Dallas / Fort Worth area, the 36-member Search One Rescue Team has helped more than 120 government agencies locate lost or missing persons since 1983.

Both are comprised entirely of volunteers and their dogs.


But even though no one is being paid for their work on the teams, both Search One and Chesapeake Search Dogs have demanding standards and rigorous training requirements. Dogs and owners are typically trained in one or more of three disciplines: air scent, trailing, and locating human remains.

“To get a dog and handler to operational certification takes about 18 months,” says Dennis Ciesla, training coordinator for Chesapeake Search Dogs, which has seven operational dogs and handlers.

Donations pay for operating expenses, which include equipment and required insurance. Training is the responsibility of dog owners, who receive guidance and mentoring from more experienced members. But even after a dog and owner are deemed operational, they continue to spend many hours perfecting their skills.

Chesapeake Search Dogs requires its members to attend an all-day training one Saturday per month, and there are two team trainings each week, one mandatory. “This is a very elite group,” says Ed Thayer, 59, a fence contractor and Chesapeake’s director of operations. “You are looking at between 400 and 900 hours a year that people put into this.”


Chesapeake Search Dogs and Search One Rescue Team are just two of the volunteer K-9 search-and-rescue groups nationwide whose members spend countless hours training themselves and their dogs so they can be ready to assist local public safety agencies.

Their job is complex, and it requires a lot of organization and management, which is why some of these groups are now using team management/incident management software tools.

Search One and Chesapeake Search Dogs both rely on cloud-based Mission Manager Incident Management software to help manage their personnel and equipment, and also enhance situational awareness in the field.

I use it every single day. It is a huge part of what we do,” said Laura Hennig, 40, a volunteer with Search One who also serves as a 6th grade public school teacher by day. She and her K9 Gunnar, a 5-year-old male German shepherd, are often called on to find a missing Alzheimer’s patient, a lost hiker or a body.

Mission Manager plays a key role in the teams’ training, searches and debriefs. At the most basic level, Mission Manager is used for posting training schedules and allowing members to respond with their objectives, so training can be coordinated.  The web-based software helps them develop mock scenarios, including checking-in and checking-out personnel, creating subject profiles, setting up task assignments and mapping out the search areas.

Laura Hennig, Search One Rescue Team, Police Magazine K9 article, Mission Manager

Laura Hennig, pictured with her K9 Gunnar, uses Mission Manager every day with the Search One Rescue Team.

“More importantly, we use it on searches,” Hennig said. “It has Google Maps and Google Earth built into it, so we are able to measure a sector and track the search teams using real-time GPS. At base, they can see where I’m walking, they can see where my dog is walking. If a call comes in about someone spotting something, they can see that I’m 30 yards from that location, and send me there.

“It has all of our radio communications, so if I’m calling base and telling you where I am at, that’s logged into Mission Manager. It’s complete accountability. We are even able to use it to send out a missing person’s flyer. It’s amazing.”

Before deploying Mission Manager three years ago, Search One used disparate tools to keep track of personnel, training and missions, according to Jess Romero, Director of Search Managers for Search One. “Now, with Mission Manager, everything is all in one place, and Search One is able to hit the ground running.”