Paul Coreil, Roberts, Kenneth J., Gautreaux, Craig, Benedict, Linda F.
BATON ROUGE – The temporary shelter at Parker Coliseum on the LSU campus, set up to handle pet animals evacuated from hurricane-affected areas of southeast Louisiana, is bursting at the seams and accepting no more animals at this time.
"This may change as more owners come to pick up their animals," said Shannon Bere, coordinator of the facility for the LSU AgCenter. "As animals leave, we can accept more."
The shelter is at capacity with 1,200 animals, mostly dogs.
"We don’t have enough staff and volunteers to ensure the safety and security of both the animals and the people with more animals than this," Bere said.
"People who are rescuing non-owned animals are to take them to the Lamar-Dixon temporary animal shelter in Gonzales," said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for extension, emphasizing that the Parker shelter is for owned animals only.
The shelter at Parker will stop accepting any animals Oct. 1 and will shut down shelter operations altogether Oct. 15. Owners are to pick up their animals by Sept. 30 or give consent for foster care or adoption. The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s Web site includes information on foster care and adoption of these animals (http://www.vetmed.lsu.edu/).
The temporary shelter is a joint venture among several organizations dedicated to the welfare of animals. These include the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA) and the Louisiana Animal Control Association.
The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine has taken the lead in caring for the animals, and the LSU AgCenter has managed the facility.
"We offered our facility as a pet shelter as part of our efforts to aid the hurricane victims," Coreil said. "Most shelters for evacuees don’t allow pets, and some New Orleans residents refused to be rescued unless they could bring their animals."
Built for livestock shows featuring cattle and horses, Parker Coliseum was transformed almost overnight by the AgCenter from a large animal facility to one that could handle dogs and cats.
"It’s spacious. It’s sturdy. Obviously it’s built for large animals. There’s a lot of room and ample parking," said Dr. Ken Roberts, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor.
One of the major hurdles was to re-do the wiring to accommodate fans to keep the animals cool.
"It’s not air-conditioned in there," Roberts said. "We have our staff working seven days a week to help keep the animals as comfortable as possible."
Dr. Linda Hooper-Bui, an LSU AgCenter entomologist, played a critical role in the initial set-up by helping to coordinate volunteers.
"This turned out to be a much bigger project than we ever imagined. In the first six hours, we took in 80 animals," she said. The shelter opened Aug. 31.
Hundreds of volunteers have lent a hand in walking animals, cleaning cages and organizing the many donations sent to the site. Right now, the shelter has more pet food than can be used, Bere said. Leftovers will be donated to other animal shelters.
Monetary donations are still being accepted. Information on making donations and volunteering is on the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Web site.
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Roberts at (225) 578-2391, or email@example.com
Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Gautreaux at (225) 578-5673, or email@example.com