In the past week, 103 dogs and puppies—a quarter of the kennel—from the East Baton Rouge Parish animal shelter have been transported across the country to improve their chances of adoption.
Last Tuesday, the largest transport facilitated by the New Orleans branch of the ASPCA left Baton Rouge for Elmsford, NY. After a 35-hour drive in an air-conditioned 18-wheeler, 80 canines safely arrived at the no-kill Pets Alive shelter to the cheers of staff and volunteers. In a week, more than 30 dogs had been adopted.
Last Saturday, Petz Plaza's customized van brought another 23 dogs and puppies to rescues in Norfolk, Va. That transfer was made possible because nearly all of the 29 puppies transported the previous month had found homes.
The benefits these transports offer our local shelter are exponential. Undoubtedly, they save the lives of puppies who leave Louisiana to find new homes. But, they save additional lives by opening up kennel space for some of the new intakes, who come in the shelter of a rate of 10 to 20 day.
“So, we hope to have transports—even small ones—going somewhere every month,” says Paula Shaw, programs and service manager of Companion Animal Alliance, which manages the Baton Rouge municipal shelter.
Preparing the animals and interstate paperwork has required a tremendous amount additional time and effort on the part of CAA staff, local veterinarians and volunteers. However, the extra investment has paid off—not only in terms of the animals' health but ease and rapidity of adoption.
“These pups were similar to others we've received [from other shelters], explains Pets Alive Development Director Melissa Stone. “[But] what was nice about this transfer is the East Baton Rouge shelter quarantined the dogs for two weeks prior to us receiving them and they were fully vetted, which allowed us to immediately start adopting these guys out.”
In fact, the first Louisiana puppy was adopted the day the transport arrived. Pets Alive volunteers Victoria Alfasso and her 10-year-old son Luke had been checking the shelter's website diligently to find the perfect pet. Luke was immediately drawn to a picture of a boxer mix puppy he decided to call Marshmallow.
The Alfassos reached the shelter just before closing. Yet, nothing could deter Luke from finding the four-month-old puppy brought into CAA as a stray nearly a month before.
“All the puppies seemed very social,” Victoria recalls. “After we took [the boxer mix] out, he was doing things that seemed like he was not afraid. He sat at my feet, and he was interacting with both of us. Luke said, 'This is my puppy,' and started to walk out with him. So, I called my husband to let him know we had a dog. He was surprised, but not completely.
“I think the fact he was a younger dog make it easier to take him,” says Victoria. “I probably would have had more concerns adopting an older dog.”
In the week since the adoption, Marshmallow remained calm and engaging. With guidance from the shelter's trainer, the family is working on house manners including housebreaking, which requires some finesse in taking the elevator from the family's eighth floor apartment outside. Nonetheless, the family remains delighted with its Cajun canine.
The quality of the animals at risk of euthanasia in Baton Rouge astounds rescuers throughout the country. As the dogs arrive at their facilities, “ Virginia rescues] can't believe the totally adoptable animals who [would otherwise be] getting euthanized because of space or time. It's so sad,” says Suzanne Swim, who facilitated the placement of dogs in Virginia and will soon become CAA's shelter operations director.
Hopefully, in the future, CAA will not only to forge alliances with shelters who have the capacity to place additional adoptable animals but emulate the programs in those communities that have successfully curtailed pet overpopulation and promoted responsible pet ownership.
Instead of the weekly Creature Feature, Unleashed presents KerriAnn Hofer’s photos from the arrival of the New York transport.
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