The U.S. Humane Society estimates four million cats and dogs are put down every year in shelters across the country. According to the Humane Society of Louisiana, more than half of the communities in the state are without animal shelters or pet rescue programs. But shelters and foster family homes in New Orleans and its surrounding parishes house hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs, cats and other animals available and eager for adoption.
Here's a roundup of shelters in the metro area and St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes — all of which are looking for volunteers.
Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO)
271 Plauche St., Harahan, 571-1900; www.animalrescueneworleans.org
Adoption hours: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily (including holidays)
THE SCOOP: Adoption fees are $100 for cats and $150 for dogs and include all spaying and neutering, all shots, microchipping, combo testing for cats, and heartworm treatment if necessary.
THE POOP: The shelter at Elmwood houses about 65 dogs and 75 cats, with dozens of other pets in ARNO foster care. Foster "parents" are screened, as are adoption candidates. More than 5,500 animals have found homes through its adoption programs, while thousands of others have been reunited with their human families. Volunteer opportunities are available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and ARNO offers community service hours for students and those in the court system.
The shelter offers a wide range of programs, including a pet retention program serving up to 60 indigent families each year, though this year 63 families are in the program. When families are faced with relinquishing their pets beacuse of financial hardship, the program helps keep them together. ARNO also assists communities with humane trapping and trap-neuter-release (TNR) efforts.
ARNO is one of only two shelters in the U.S. offering feral dog rehabilitation, which provides up to 10 wild puppies and dogs with long-term care. "Each dog is different. Some are hard-wired and it may take up to a year to rehab them, which is why most shelters put down feral dogs," says ARNO executive director Charlotte Bass Lily. "But we got used to tracking and trapping feral dogs after Katrina because the pets went feral, so we thought, why don't we just continue that."
ARNO also offers veterinary care and outreach programs — last week, ARNO's animals visited Tulane University's campus to give students some stress relief during exams.
Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, East Bank
1 Humane Way, Harahan, 736-6111, jpas.petfinder.com
Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, West Bank
1869 Ames Blvd., Marrero, 349-5111, jpas.petfinder.com
Adoption hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.-Wed. and Fri.; 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thu.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat.
Adoption fee is $67 and includes spaying and neutering, rabies, distemper and parvo vaccinations, microchipping and lice treatments.
THE POOP: Jefferson Parish's East Bank shelter in Jefferson houses 80 cats and 40 dogs; about half of each are available for adoption. At the West Bank facility in Marrero, there are 72 cats and 97 dogs, and 20 cats and 30 dogs are adoptable. A list of the shelters' adoptable pets can be found on its Petfinder.com website. In 2010, the shelters combined took in more than 12,000 animals.
Volunteer opportunities include walking, bathing and grooming dogs, socializing and grooming cats, dog training, assisting with offsite adoption events, transporting animals, and photographing the pets for Petfinder. Fostering opportunities also are available. Volunteer-run nonprofit groups Friends of the Jefferson Animal Shelter (www.fjas.petfinder.com) and the Jefferson SPCA (www.jeffersonspca.org) also offer volunteer opportunities with the shelters.
The shelters offer rabies vaccinations (Tuesdays on the West Bank and Wednesdays on the East Bank) and microchipping daily. Upcoming adoption events are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jefferson Feed (4421 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson) April 2 and April 16.
Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA)
1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., 368-5191; www.la-spca.org
Adoption hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon.-Sat; noon to 4 p.m. Sun.
Adoption fees for dogs weighing fewer than 20 pounds or younger than 6 months are $150. Fees for cats, kittens and dogs more than 20 pounds and older than 6 months are $80. Rabbits and other small pets are $80. All animals are spayed and neutered and fees include microchipping, heartworm and flea medications, all vaccines and tags and licenses for Orleans Parish residents.
THE POOP: The LA/SPCA has served as New Orleans' animal control provider for more than 60 years. Its Dorothy Dorsett Brown campus in Algiers holds 350 animals, with approximately 100 available for adoption daily. Animals may be relinquished to the shelter 24 hours a day. It's an open-admission shelter and won't turn away any unwanted or homeless animals; however, LA/SPCA staff euthanize sick and injured animals once all opportunities are exhausted, if there is no room at the shelter or the animal is considered dangerous.
"We do consider the animal's quality of life and the health of the herd when euthanasia decisions are made for sick or injured animals," says LA/SPCA communications director Katherine LeBlanc. "No animal will be turned away from the LA/SPCA, and all adoptable animals will have an opportunity at adoption. We are proud that the number of adoptable animals euthanized is below the national average, but these decisions are the most difficult part of our work."
Volunteer opportunities are available for people ages 18 years or older, and youth opportunities also are available for teens ages 15 and older.
The LA/SPCA also employs an Animal Cruelty Investigations Team and offers education outreach programs, a TNR program, wellness clinics, annual checkups with a veterinary care team, disaster preparedness and hosts other public events throughout the year.
Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
9596 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse, 392-1601; www.paws4life.org
Adoption hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun.
Adoption fees for dogs are $100 and $25 for cats. All pets are fully vaccinated and microchipped, and cats are tested for leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
THE POOP: The Plaquemines nonprofit, no-kill shelter is home to more than 70 cats and 45 dogs and will soon move into a new state-of-the-art green facility shared with Plaquemines Parish Animal Control. "It's unique — a nonprofit moving into a Plaquemines Parish building," says shelter director Jacob Stroman. "It's unusual, but we're going to make it happen."
Volunteer opportunities are available daily. "We'll take any help we can get," Stroman says. Volunteer duties include dog walking, socialization, grooming, and assisting with adoption events and the shelter's social networking websites. PAWS also accepts donations — check the shelter's "wish list" on its website to find other ways to help.
While PAWS is transitioning to its new home, which broke ground in April 2010, will continue to offer low-cost spaying and neutering and offsite adoption events.
St. Bernard Parish Animal Control Shelter
5455 Judge Perez Drive, Violet, 278-1534
Adoption hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Adoption fees for dogs and puppies weighing fewer than 25 pounds are $90, and adult dogs more than 25 pounds are $50. Adult cats are $15 and kittens are $35. Fees include spaying and neutering, one month's worth of flea medication and heartworm prevention and all shots recommended for the animal's stage of development.
THE POOP: St. Bernard's new state-of-the-art shelter opened earlier this year and houses 70 dogs and 50 cats. At any time, 30 dogs and 40 cats are available for adoption. The shelter is open-admission and does euthanize in cases of aggression.
"We could always use volunteers, at the shelter or offsite," says shelter director Beth Brewster. Volunteers can do "whatever they want to do," Brewster says, and duties include cleaning kennels, socializing the animals, helping with adoption events or walking dogs. Volunteers must be 16 or older to participate, or no younger than 12 if assisted by an adult.
The shelter also provides St. Bernard Parish with a feral cat TNR program and a low-cost spay-neuter clinic.
St. Tammany Humane Society
20384 Harrison Ave., Covington, (985) 892-7387; www.sttammanyhumanesociety.org
Adoption hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Adoption fees are $50-$150 for dogs and $25-$75 for cats. Fees include spaying and neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, six months of heartworm prevention, and one month of flea/tick prevention. All adoptable cats have tested negative for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
THE POOP: Louisiana's largest no-kill shelter is the St. Tammany Humane Society's Covington facility, which houses 100 dogs and 40 cats, all of which are available for adoption. The shelter doesn't turn away any animals, though dogs and cats may face a waiting list. Director Vaughn Maurice says finding enough homes for the animals is the biggest challenge to operating as a no-kill shelter. Once a month, the shelter moves 20 pets to homes in the northeast U.S.
Volunteer opportunities include walking dogs, socializing with cats, cleaning kennels, assisting clinic veterinarians and helping with fundraisers. "We're totally dependent on the community for our budget of $1.5 million," Maurice says. "We have to go out and raise (money). We receive no government funding, so it takes an army of volunteers to raise that kind of money every year." Maurice says the shelter also accepts donations ranging from toys to pet food; a list of needed items can be found on the website. Volunteers under age 16 (and no younger than 12) must be accompanied by an adult.
The shelter also offers a full-service, low-cost veterinary clinic, low-cost spaying and neutering, and a Second Chance fund which provides greatly reduced (or free) veterinary care for pets of indigent owners. Maurice says the Humane Society's TNR program handles about 1,000 feral cats every year.
Slidell Animal Control Shelter and Animal Assistance League of Slidell
2700 Terrace Ave., Slidell, (985) 646-4267, www.aalslidell.org
Adoption hours: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sat.
Adoption fees for dogs are $80, and cats are $70. All animals are spayed and neutered, vaccinated and on heartworm preventative medicine if necessary.
THE POOP: The Slidell facility houses between 100 and 125 dogs and cats, with more than 40 available for adoption throughout the year. The shelter is open-admission and doesn't turn away any animals, but division supervisor Damian Anti says his staff must euthanize animals with poor behavior or health issues.
Volunteer opportunities are available for people ages 18 and older. The shelter also offers low-cost spaying and neutering vouchers and frequently works with other rescue groups like the Feral Cat Consortium and the shelter's nonprofit group, the Animal Assistance League, which provides food, medicine, medical care and comfort for shelter animals. The group also assists with pet adoptions, veterinary clinics and humane education outreach programs. Find volunteer and other information on the group's website.