During the rescue phase of Hurricane Katrina deployment in the fall of 2005, I vowed on behalf of The HSUS that we’d not just help with the urgent rescue of animals, but also commit in the long-term to fortify the humane infrastructure in Louisiana and Mississippi. Specifically, I promised we’d help make it stronger than it was before Katrina struck, so that there would be an enduring presence to deal with the wide range of animal problems that afflict the region. With the imminent opening of a new shelter in St. Bernard Parish—to supplant an old, dilapidated, and deficient facility—there is one more tangible example of how we’re making good on that promise, as reported in Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune.
In addition to our $250,000 construction grant, we have joined other organizations in a shared three-year commitment to support a shelter executive director at St. Bernard, and a joint gift of a custom built vehicle that will allow the shelter to increase adoptions by easily transporting adoptable animals to larger population areas, and also offer quick evacuation in an emergency. The shelter now has the potential to be a model facility in a small community.
Of course, the Louisiana SPCA and the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi have beautiful new facilities as well, and there have been improvements made to many facilities and animal care programs throughout the region, thanks in part to the millions The HSUS has invested in both states. These investments have been occurring over four years, and will continue in the years ahead.
Grand opening of the new animal shelter in St. Bernard Parish.
We are also charging forward with our Gulf Coast Spay/Neuter Project, helping to develop low-cost spay and neuter programs throughout Louisiana and Mississippi and then working hard to advertise these services through billboards, television ads, and other means of communications. With new high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinics in these two states, there will be an increased capacity of 40-50,000 surgeries per year. This project comes on the heels of a joint shelter data collection effort from The HSUS and Maddie’s Fund designed to motivate local shelters to collect data on intake, adoptions, and euthanasia so we can effectively steer resources and chart our collective progress on the issue.
In the run-up to our campaign, we conducted research to determine the best messages to reach the public on spay and neuter. We found that there was not significant opposition to spay and neuter, but a lack of awareness of the problem or affordable options. With access to low-cost services, and knowledge of these services, we hope to see that euthanasia rates for healthy and treatable animals decline over time. That’s our long-term goal, and I’ll report back to you on how we and the local groups working so hard on the problem are faring.