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Red Star Rides to the Rescue

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

About a hundred years ago, the US horse population was reduced drastically when one million horses were sent to Europe to participate in World War I. A small number of the imported horses were used in cavalry units, but mainly they were used to transport goods and artillery to the battlefront. With such a large number of animals engaged in war, there were many injuries and illnesses to treat, overwhelming existing European veterinary services.

In order to care for sick and wounded war animals, the International Red Star Alliance treaty was negotiated. It allowed personnel saving animals to have neutral status and assured cooperation between countries, similar to the Red Cross for people. Red Star societies were then created in a number of countries as a result of this treaty, including the American Red Star Animal Relief in the US. Since posters were widely used in the last century to encourage enlistment and aid in war efforts, the Red Star fundraising efforts were also publicized in this way.

The Red Star Animal Relief organization continued on after the war and today is known as American Humane's Animal Emergency Services ( The star symbol has been incorporated into American Humane's logo, in keeping with the legacy of the Red Star program. Their moto "First to Serve" reflects that theirs was the very first US national humane organization. In modern times, the Red Star Rescue team is called into action to assist animals during natural disasters including floods, hurricanes and wildfires.

Q: Can you reproduce this expressive poster? The answer depends upon whether or not there is a copyright. Copyright can provide certain rights for creators of artistic works to prevent others from distributing, copying, displaying or modifying the work without permission.

A: Yes. Whether or not copyright protection exists is determined on the basis of the date of earliest authorized publication of the work. The Red Star poster (published before 1923) is in the public domain which means that it now belongs to the public and it can be displayed or reproduced without permission.


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