New Orleans, LAThe Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA) along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the lead sponsor, the Best Friends Animal Society, and several local organizations have begun the Gulf Coast Companion Animal Relief Program to provide services to pet owners suffering economic hardship as a result of the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil rig explosion.
“The coastal parish animal shelters have experienced 2-3 times the number of pets being relinquished than last summer.” says Ana Zorrilla, CEO of the LA/SPCA, “Studies have shown pets reduce stress, aid in overcoming depression and loss, and provide comfort in times of need. Knowing how bonded people are with their pets, it’s heartbreaking to hear of families having to make this kind of decision. The pets have become innocent victims of this disaster.”
Through a generous grant from the ASPCA free pet care will be provided to residents of Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish, Terrebonne Parish and Jefferson Parish affected by the oil spill. It is estimated that their initial contribution will prevent 1,000 family pets from facing relinquishment by their owners.
“A primary mission of the ASPCA is to provide support and resources to communities in need,” says Julie Morris, SVP of Community Outreach at the ASPCA. “Through the generous contributions of our donors we are pleased to join in this collaborative effort to positively impact the companion animals affected by the Gulf Coast tragedy and improve a dire situation for hundreds of families.”
The free pet care includes:
- Basic exam including tests for Feline Leukemia, FIV in cats and Heartworms in dogs
- Microchip and registration
- Spay or neuter surgery
Services are provided at the LA/SPCA by licensed veterinarians. Residents can begin scheduling appointments by calling the LA/SPCA directly: 504-363-1333 or 504-368-5191 ext. 141. Appointments will be provided on a first come first serve basis through November. This service is available to residents who work in the fishing industry of the affected parishes. Proof of eligibility is required and can be: a Commercial Fishing License, Trip Tickets, Check stub from Seafood-related industry, or signed letter from captain including a copy of one his supporting documents listed above.
Additionally dog food will be provided from a generous donation by Del Monte Foods coordinated by Best Friends Animal Society while supplies last.
“We were able to respond quickly to the reports of increased pet relinquishment and solicited a very generous donation from Del Monte Foods of 41,000 pounds of Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food,” states Temma Martin, spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society, “This effort is an example of how our First Home Forever Home campaign helps families avoid having to surrender their four-legged family members even in the face of disaster.”
Support from the following organizations has been critical to make this program possible: The American Society for the Prevention for Cruelty (ASPCA), Del Monte Foods, Best Friends Animal Society, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, Second Harvest Food Bank (local affiliate of Feed America), St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter, Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society, Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, Terrebonne Animal Shelter, and the Louisiana SPCA.
To volunteer or donate to this or other disaster related programs, visit www.la-spca.org/gulfcoastrelief.