Animal Shelter of the Week: Episode 23 – West Feliciana Animal Humane Society in Louisiana

West Feliciana Animal Humane Society in Louisiana has a unique working partnership with the Sheriff’s Department, the parish government and the Animal Shelter. They work together towards one common goal – saving lives & building relationships. The team at WFAHS provides a safe, healthy and caring environment for all animals in their care & their adoption rate is over 93%! Without the help of everyone in their community, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do.

If you’re interested in purchasing tickets for the annual “Wags & Whiskers Gala” on July 27th, 2019 – Purchase your tickets here!

Make sure to check out their website and facebook page to learn more!

“Welcome to the ARPA Animal Shelter of the week podcast, where we introduce you to incredible organizations around the country that are focused on helping animals.  We’re proud to be sponsored by Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport.  Let’s meet this week’s featured animal shelter.

 West Feliciana Animal Humane Society is celebrating their seventh year this August. What makes them unique is that the sheriff’s department, the parish government, and the animal shelter, all work together towards one common goal. To help the animals in the community. To help with overpopulation, they rely on homeowners in the community, to help with their TNR  program. Without the support of their community, the volunteers and animal shelter employees, the local vets they work with, to treat the animals and the local businesses who have supported them, they won’t be able to help the animals they help on a regular basis.

Hey, Leann, welcome to the show. Hi. Thank you for having me. Yeah, I’m really excited to have you. So you are from West Feliciana Animal Humane Society in Louisiana. I hope I said that, right. That’s correct. Great. And, uh, why don’t you kick us off and really kind of tell us where you guys are located? A little bit of your background and then maybe what your mission is? Sure. So, um, we’re located in St Francisville, Louisiana. It’s about 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge. We’re a very rural area. We are a 501C3, which actually works in conjunction with our sheriff’s department and our local parish government. So our mission is to provide just a safe, healthy, loving environment for each of the animals in our care, until we can find the original owner or adopt them to a new home. And we’re working to reduce the overpopulation in our community. So Leann I love the mission statement. And, you know, I kinda, it’s interesting to me, that you guys are tied to the sheriff’s office, the parish government, and then the Animal Humane Society.

 So there’s a three part piece to what you guys do. Why don’t you tell me about how that connection works and how those agencies kind of work together for you guys? The shelter, when it started in August of 2012, um, the kennels were attached to the jail in town, in the town of St Francisville. They tore those down because they were old and dilapidated, and after they did that, 99% of the cats and kittens and about 90% of dogs and puppies were euthanized. Because they had nowhere to be. They had nowhere to go, so they built the animal shelter, and the sheriff’s office asked for volunteers to care for the animals that were brought in. So they formed a group of members from the West Feliciana Animal Humane Society, to provide help and the medical care for the animals that were at the shelter. Um, and then over time it evolved, and we’ve been able to get the West Feliciana Parish government involved, so they actually provide our utilities and cat food, dog food, um, kitten, puppy food and cat litter as well. Um, and that’s how they kind of incorporated with us. And they’ve actually taken over maintenance of all of our buildings. So the grounds belong to the sheriff’s department. The buildings are taken care of by the parish government and the West Feliciana Animal Humane Society takes care of all the animals, the funding, everything like that. All the medications, that’s all under the Humane Society. Yeah, it sounds like an incredible partnership, one that’s pretty unique. Of all the organizations that I’ve talked with, I’ve never heard of a partnership like this before. And you mentioned 2012, so that’s only been seven years. That’s still a really new organization and partnership. It sounds like everything’s going well. Sounds like everybody kind of shares their role, right, in what they do.. Yes, it’s definitely an interesting dynamic.

Um, you have to get more people on the same page, which can be a challenge at times. But everyone is just working for the better of the community and for the animals. So when everyone just comes to the table with that in mind, that in the forefront of their minds, we’re able to accomplish so much. And the shelter, the Animal Humane Society for West Feliciana, has come such a long way. Um, with those percentages I gave of the euthanasia rate last year, we acquired a save rate of 93.3% That’s incredible. Yes, it is, definitely. It’s definitely progressed. It’s wonderful. Yeah, that is great. I think when people think, you know, the southern states, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky. right, People think, a high euthanasia rate. And that alone says that that’s not necessarily the case, right? There’s, you know, organizations, obviously within the state that do have that high percentage and 93.3, was that just this last year or what? Yes. What has that progression been like for you? Um, that was just this last year. Um, I think the previous years have been about the same, Okay. For the last two or three years. So it’s really come a long way from those numbers being the euthanasia rates, right? Yeah, just seven years ago. I mean, that’s an amazing turnaround. Amazing. 

So one of the things that you did mention is the parish government, and I, for me because I’ve never heard of this, what is, what do you mean by parish government? Is that ah, is that in the county, like, explain to me briefly what that is, so that we can help people understand how that works. Yes. Um, the county, the parish is the county. It’s the same thing, just in Louisiana, you know, you gotta stick with tradition, and we call it a parish. But it is a county. When you say parish, it’s the county or an area, Right? That you’re talking about. That’s correct. Okay, that’s awesome.

 So why don’t you tell me a little bit about, you know, your background and how you came to be, um, at the animal shelter? Sure. So I actually started, um, I’m from Southeast Texas. I’ve been a veterinary technician for a long time. I moved with my husband to St Francisville, Louisiana, and I worked as a veterinary technician here locally. Um, I was approached about, and it’s been a year ago now, I was approached by the Humane Society, about a position that they were gonna be working with, with the parish government, and they asked me to apply for it, which I did. So that’s how I became the shelter manager for West Feliciana. It seems like a natural fit, right, in through relationship building and doing what you do, it just seemed like a natural, a natural fit. Absolutely. They had known me from, um you know, the veterinary hospital and I had worked with them on fosters and things like that, previously. So, you know, we definitely had a good relationship, and they’ve seen me work, and, uh, they just wanted me to join the team. Yeah, it’s always interesting to see how people make the transition into their current roles. So thank you for sharing a little bit of that personal side with us. Definitely.

 I want to get into a little bit about the community. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what the area looks like for you, you know, do you have any stray animal problems? What are some of the programs or areas that you guys they’re focused on as well? Sure. So our community, it’s a very rural community. Um, we have a lot of hunting leases in our area. So, honestly, we do see a lot of hound dogs whether they are, uh, dumped at the end of hunting season. Whether they, you know, run off from their owners while they’re tracking, and then they can’t find them or they just run off, and then the hunters don’t care to get them back. We see a lot of that. And because we’re a rural area, we just get a lot of dumping overall. A lot of the back roads, a lot of the dead-end roads in the parish. We end up with a lot of dumped puppies and dumped kittens. So we definitely have an overpopulation problem in the parish, as far as things like that. Okay. Um, we have, the cats are definitely an issue, too, for overpopulation. But fortunately, we have, um, the ability to have our barn cat program. So we have cats that are considered not adoptable, as in they would not make a good house cat. They are more wild. They’re used to being outdoors, so we’re able to take those in,  have them fully vetted and then adopted out as a barn cat. And so people use them in their barns, on their property, to control the mice. Yeah. Yeah.

 So when you talk about overpopulation, does that mean you guys have a TNR program as well? We do, yes. We have a TNR  program which is free to the public. They just have to contact us. And we set things up with our local veterinarians. All three of our local veterinarians are involved with the shelter. So they will do our TNRs for us. Um, and we have grant funding that pays for that. So we definitely try to get the word out and let the public utilize that, so we can get the overpopulation of cats under control, without having to euthanize. Yeah. So you guys are a shelter. So you mentioned that you have, that you use three local vets. So a lot of time shelters will have the vets in house. That’s not the case with you guys? That’s correct. We just use the three independent local veterinarians. Um and actually, some of them, one of the vets specifically, has several vets that work under that umbrella. And they are all involved with the shelter. They all do our spay and neuters. They actually donate a ton of their time. They’re in a rotation to come every third week. They will come to the shelter for half of a morning. They do our vaccines. Look at any ill kittens, puppies, anything like that. Do the heartworm testing. They do everything once a week, at the shelter. You don’t have a vet in-house. Sounds like you guys have a clinic, and then they come to you, so that you don’t have to transport the animals to them. Did I understand that, right? Yes. We, it’s not really so much a clinic. We just have an area where we can do the simple things, like testing and examinations. And then they actually do all our spay and neuters in their facility. Yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

 So going back to the community and the cats. I’m curious now. You’ve really only been around for seven years. So do you have any numbers or your progression, to show maybe where you guys were at, you know, 5, 6, 7 years ago to where you are today and the impact you’ve had on the community? Oh, that’s a great question. I actually don’t have the numbers on the TNRs. But I do know, you know, just from the original numbers, as far as our euthanasia rate or you know what they did with the sheriff’s department before the Humane society was implemented. Um, those 99% of the cats and kittens that were euthanized, a lot of those were of the pharaoh population that people just, you know, they were at their house, and they didn’t want them there. So rather than doing the TNRs at that time, they just euthanized them. So now, um, I’m pretty sure we probably average about 100 TNRs a year, so it’s definitely made a big difference. It is helping. We actually see less litters of kittens now, also, because of the TNR program. Yeah, that’s great. And that is definitely the goal of it, right? So if somebody in the community sees a community of cats, right, are they usually the ones that call you guys and tell you kind of the location and then you have the TNR group, kind of go out in scope and trap them if necessary. Is that how that works? Or do you guys have a different program that kind of tracks the different colonies? We do kind of have a program that tracks the colonies. We do try to keep up with the area where they’re coming from, so we can see where we need to focus our efforts. But typically the homeowners will call. Let us know that they have however many cats, kittens that are feral, they cannot touch them. We have traps that we loan out to the homeowners, and the homeowners are responsible for trapping the cats. And they bring them to the vet that we assigned. And then, when they pick them up from the vet that evening, they can release them back to their property. We try not to relocate them because typically when they’re relocated, especially after anesthesia, they run off and they’re more likely to get, you know, injured or killed. So we like to release them back to the area where they came from, and with the agreement that the homeowner will continue to monitor them and to, you know, feed them, if they will. Yeah, yeah, that’s really interesting for me. That’s something that I’ve never heard of before is that you guys are kind of involving the community and the homeowners with the TNR program, right? You’re saying, Well, you will do all the surgical and the medical piece of this. But you know, if you can maintain and trap them, right and you even loaned them the traps, that’s really it. That’s a really unusual piece to a TNR program.

 Are you finding that that is supported by the community? Or do you find that, um, that that’s a little intimidating for people to set a trap? And, like, do you provide them the tools and resources? Walk me through what that looks like for you guys and how that’s been supported. Sure. So because we are a rural area, most people already have traps, most of the time. Quite honestly, they are, that’s something they already own, whether it be because they were originally trying to trap possums or raccoons or something like that, or, you know, any kind of, um, pest wildlife. We have nutria. Um, so they typically already have the traps they own that they can use, but oftentimes you know they will go ahead and use our traps. Um, the public really doesn’t seem intimidated by it. We do have on occasion where some people are a little bit concerned about it, or they don’t feel comfortable with it. Um, and at that time, whether they’re a town resident, they can, there is animal control for the town of St Francisville, that will help them. Um, and we have animal control with the sheriff’s department that can talk to them and help them out. But, yeah, we find it more successful, it seems, whenever we’re able to include the community in these efforts, because we’re a very small shelter. We have, um, you know, very few volunteers, and so we just can’t divide our time too greatly. So, to involve the community and help the community to help the problem, I find it’s been actually very successful. Yeah, definitely. Community involvement really seems to be a huge piece, especially with rescues. Now with shelters, I think the assumption is, and I think even my assumption is that especially when you have funding, right, whether it’s city or state, that you have a staff right, you have the ability to do all of these things. And I think even though you have this very unique relationship with the sheriff’s office and the parish government, and then, of course, the Animal Humane Society itself. You really don’t, right, have a lot of resources. 

And as you said, you have a very small team with a few volunteers. So what does, what does that look like for you? What do you mean by small? Um, we have, so our operating hours are 9 to 4 Monday through Saturday, 9 to 12 and 2 to 4 on Sundays. We have the shifts broken down from 9: 30 – 12: 30 then 12: 30 – 4, every day. And we have typically one volunteer, sometimes two, that covers each shift. Okay. So, during the week, Monday through Friday, we do have one employee, um, that, two ladies are employed and they come in just once. I think they can get 20 hours a week, is the most that they can work. And that is a federal program that we’re able to use, to have those two employees. But typically, at any given time at the shelter, we only have two people and then myself. So where we are pretty small. We have a pretty small, um, foster program, which is growing, but yeah, we definitely need more volunteers and just trying to get that community involvement because a lot of people oftentimes have the animal they want to bring the animals. Specifically, they request, you know, make sure it’s a no-kill facility. And then that’s where they draw the line. Just when, when they want to, you know, get rid of an animal. But we’re trying to draw people in, make them a part of it. Have them have a little more responsibility, and they can see and understand what we’re working with. Yeah, yeah, which I think is key, right? It kind of speaks to the educational piece of this as well.

 So why don’t you, so how, when somebody comes to you and says I can no longer care for my animal, do you take that animal in or is there something that you’re doing to work with them, to help them understand how you can help them, without them leaving the animal with you. Yeah, absolutely. So ideally, you know, we don’t want the animals in the shelter. It’s a very stressful environment for them. So we have recently implemented the home to home adoption, where they can bring the animal, and if they can no longer care for it, to us to have medical care done. We can, you know, update the vaccines and do spay/ neuter, any other medical care it may need. But they agree to foster the animal, so they will keep it until we can find it a new home. We will place that animal on our websites, on our Facebook page. Promote it using our resources and then they’re able to be re-homed directly from their previous home, rather than having to make a stop at the shelter. Yeah, that is a great program because it is one of the challenges that I hear, right. A lot of people want to owner surrender. Um, and they go from this really great loving environment, usually, right, to a very cold and gray and really non-emotional place. Which is super stressful for them. So I love that you’re involving the community, and you’re saying, yes, we can help you, but we need your help in return. Exactly. I think that’s a really, really important piece of this.

 So I love the home to home piece that you guys are implementing and I don’t know how new that is. But are you getting the support from the community, when you say to them, we can help you, but like, are you getting positive reactions from that? We actually are. I think it does surprise a lot of people. They expect, oh well you’re a shelter, you’re just supposed to take the animal. But we’re at maximum capacity right now, so we can either utilize this program or resort to having our animals and wire crates for, you know, 23 hours a day. So when they see that, when they see, look we’re full. So this is your option. Either you can continue to care for it, or this animal is going to sit in a wire crate all day. They typically don’t want that for that animal. I mean, there’s a reason they have that animal. They care for that animal. They don’t want to see it in that kind of situation. Um, and they’re usually willing to go ahead and keep it until, even if until we can find a foster or somewhere else for it to go. We can try that, but it’s pretty, it’s been pretty successful with the home to home adoptions. Yeah, that’s great.

 So talk to me a little bit about, you’d mentioned full capacity. So how many animals can you house in your shelter, at full capacity? It’s honestly kind of hard to say. We do have, um, some pens that need repair. So if we absolutely just have to use them, we will. But it’s kind of challenging because it poses a risk for them to escape, um, or things like that. We can pretty much comfortably house 30 animals. 30 dogs. Um, our cat area is actually, we try to reduce the stress in cats as much as possible because we’re, you know, learning through our veterinarians that the stress is what makes cats ill. So if we can keep them, um, you know, happy we can keep them healthy. So the cat area is actually one large room that we can gate off for, you know, if we need to divide it into smaller groups and they have an outdoor enclosure that they’re able to freely go in and out. Um, the kitten area is actually just one room, where we house all the kittens. We only use the kennels, if they’re ill. So we tried to just let him have free roam. We try to make it as much of a home environment as possible. And our cat, um, housing is actually separate. It’s across the driveway from the dogs. So the noise is reduced. We really try to keep them, keep them happy. But so the cats, where our maximum census is, we try to keep it at 40. Okay. Um but we can do a little bit more if they’re, you know, in foster and things like that. So yeah, that’s pretty unique. Um, the fact that you have two separate buildings and then instead of housing them in individual kennels, right, cages, they’re kind of able to socialize, as, Yes. Normal cats would, right?. Yeah, I think that’s really, I think that’s really cool how you’ve done that.

 Has that been something that you’ve evolved too? Or when you guys first kind of set up in 2012, was it something that you kind of knew you wanted to do? They’ve actually had that since induction in 2012. Um, we are trying to work towards, at least with our isolation area, have some better isolation kennels. Um, but the cats and kittens being able to socialize, we’ve seen that it makes a big difference. We actually even have, um, roll up doors on each side. So in each facility, the cat and the kittens, that we can get immediate fresh air into the facility, which we try to do daily and to help reduce, you know, the upper respiratory infections and things that cats and kittens are just known to have. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s really fascinating, what you guys are, what you guys are doing with that.

 And so 70 animals in total is, you know that I wouldn’t say that’s small. Um, but so then what do you have as far as the foster program? How many animals? Um, I guess how many animals are currently in your foster program and then how many active foster families do you guys have? Sure. So right now we have about 44 animals in fosters, which also includes our litters of kittens. This is kitten season, so we’re just at the front of it. So we definitely have quite a few litters of kittens, and we have a litter of puppies out. So the 44 includes those litters. Um, we have probably 10 regular fosters, people who are, you know, constantly fostering for us or in any kind of situation, they’ll take one in. Um, so that’s probably about the most that we have at this moment. And we do have community members and people outside our community, that in a pinch, if we’re desperate. If we have an emergency situation, um, they will foster for us, but we have pretty much about 10 regular fosters. Okay, Yeah, and that’s not very many, considering you guys, are covering the whole parish, right, a whole county.

Um, so have you guys been actively looking for fosters and maybe what do you think the challenge is in getting more fosters? Sure. So one of the challenges, I think, um, with the fosters is, it is such a large area, a surface area that we cover. Um, it’s hard for people to just come up to the shelter you know, every couple of weeks for a vaccine or, you know, for the kittens and the puppies. Or every month to have to come up to do their monthly preventatives and things like that. Um, we try to make it as easy and convenient for the fosters as possible. We’ll loan them, you know, kennels, if need be. They can have the dog food, kitten food, whatever it is that they need. We try to supply him with all of that. Um, you know, we just need their home and their time. Right. Um, so, and I think a lot of that is the challenge to, a lot of people don’t have time whenever they, you know, work all day. They feel bad to leave an animal crated up all day. Um, but unfortunately, it’s either that or they, you know, stay kindled in a stressful environment. So you kind of just have to look at the lesser of the two evils, so we definitely would need more. We’d love to have more fosters. We have to tell a lot of people, no, because we are a closed intake facility. So once we get to maximum capacity, we just absolutely can’t take them in. Um, so if we’re able to have more fosters, you know, we’re able to do more with the animals in the community that need us. Yeah. 

So with your fostering program, you had mentioned that you obviously, so the food is covered. Is the cat litter and supplies and toys and all of that covered as well? Or what is the, what is the foster family responsible for? Most of our foster families will purchase some of the items on their own, such as litter, just the litter that they would like to use. Because, I mean, we have to use the most cost-effective litter that we possibly can, which may not be suitable for a home environment. Sure. Um, so people typically will cover that, but we’re willing to give any of the resources they need. So we cover, you know, the deworming and vaccines. But we’ll also send out food, toys, if it’s a specialized diet, we cover the specialized diet. Even just for the picky eaters who only want canned food, we’ll send them with canned food, I mean, we’ll do whatever it is that they need because it’s a great help to us. Yeah, absolutely. So we definitely want to encourage people out there, even if they have to crate an animal right, during the day, having one animal in a house versus that same animal in the shelter with, you know, 29 other dogs. There’s a huge difference. Like you said, you have to pick the lesser of the two evils. So it’s never ideal, right? People always feel bad, like I get it. I understand absolutely, one dog versus 30 dogs, right? Barking nonstop and hey, having that shelter stress. I mean, that’s a, that’s a real thing. And so definitely it’, I think it’s important for you guys to get more fosters. But I also understand the challenge you have, right, being in a rural location and the driving in the distance, and you know all of that.

 But you did mention, you know that you work with 3 vets, and so I’m assuming they’re kind of in different areas of the community, and you kind of filter them through right? Do you work with the foster families to kind of get them to the closest vet to them? Is that how that works? Sort of. We actually, all three of the veterinarians, are right in town, so there’s really not much of a distance between them and you know, we only work with the three vets in our community, so we actually have communities that are outside of our parish. Um, it may take 25-30 minutes to get there, but it’s the closest location, so that’s just something that we struggle with. And, uh, you know most of the things the vets will do for us, but obviously it’s cheaper for us to do them. So for people to pick up heartworm preventives and things like that, um, we prefer it to be through the shelter because that’s more affordable for us. We get them at a lower price, so it’s just a challenge. But if we need to mail something to a foster, we will absolutely do that, if it’s easier for them, to do the monthly preventatives that way. We would be more than happy to do that. Yeah, I love how flexible you are, right? It’s really just about getting people and involving the community, and you’re saying to them, Tell us what your problem is and we’ll work with you, so that you can help us help the animals, right? Absolutely. Yeah, I love that there’s really not a barrier there for you. You’re not saying, these are five rules, you must comply, otherwise we can’t help you, right? We’re saying if you can take an animal, tell us how you can take that animal and let’s make it work.

 And that’s another thing that I think is really different. Especially with the shelter and one that has such the partnership that you do. Has that been something, again from the beginning, or is that just something that you’re finding, as you evolve and grow as an organization? I think that it’s a little bit of both. Um, you know, the shelter has always tried to make it as easy as possible for the public. But as we evolve and we’re learning more about what works for people and what doesn’t, I think we’re getting more and more flexible. Obviously we still have, you know, ground rules with the fostering and things like that. Um, we want to try to keep our animal as safe and as happy as possible, but within reason. We still, we just want to get the people to be involved. Um, help us any way you can, and we want to help you help us. So that’s it, definitely something we’re learning as we go. Yeah, yeah. And I think you have to. You have to be open to that evolution, right? If you continue to do the same thing you know, year over year over year, you stop your progression. 

One of the things I’m curious about is partnerships because I feel, in the animal welfare industry, it really is based on relationships and partnerships and kind of working together. Do you work with other shelters or rescues, either in your community or in surrounding communities? We do. So we’re only able to take in animals in our parish. That’s kind of our stipulation because we are partially funded by our parish, um, by the parish government. But we do work with trying to get animals out. We work with other rescues. Um, we work with Paws for Rescue, which is a rescue up north. So we try to send as many dogs as we can to them up north. Um, we’ve worked with rescues in Mississippi. Um, Tired Dog Rescue is one. We just recently um, worked with And even in our own community, um, bark and roll rescue has pulled from us before. Um, we have awesome community involvement. As far as donations go, people are constantly trying to bring us donations. And we do have our yearly gala, which is our biggest fundraising event. And we get so much support from local businesses, um, local companies and even Paws for Rescue donates for that event as well. Um, that’s something that we have every year. This year, it’s gonna be July 27th. Um, and it’s just a get-together. We have food and drink stands, music and their silent auctions. Um, It’s a lot of fun. It really is. We have little games. We have the dog Kissing Booth, and, ah, we get a lot of great support from businesses, in the area, that really contribute to that and make that successful as well. Yeah, and fundraising is always a big piece of organizations. Right? So, you know, it seems like everybody can always have that one annual event, and I’m glad the timing of this worked out well, right? We definitely want to encourage people to check it out, we’ll make sure to link to your website and social media platforms as well.

So you said July 27th. And is it open to the public? Is there a registration fee? Like, what does that look like? So you can buy tickets. Um, the tickets can be purchased. We have our local establishments that carry them. But we also have, um, the website that you can purchase them from is BonTongTix, which is You can purchase your ticket directly from there. It’s $25 a ticket. Um, and you can bring kids, but it’s mostly, you know, an adult event. We call it dressy casual. Um, you know, because, I mean, we’re still dealing with dogs and cats. We bring the dogs and kittens to the events. Nice. Um, yeah, so I mean, it’s so much fun. It’s something we really try to do, obviously, to raise funds for us, but again, community involvement. We just want people to come out to see what we’re doing. See what we can do, what we’re working towards. Um, it’s really a great event. And that’s at The Hemming Bell Plantation Also. Okay. 

So as far as other fundraising goes, do you? It sounds like you have great local business support. You guys do any other fundraising throughout the year? Is this pretty much it? This is our biggest one. We do have other smaller events, um, throughout the year, that we’re trying to incorporate more. We’re talking about working towards having a Volunteer Appreciation event to get more volunteers and to, you know, show appreciation for the volunteers that we do have. At different adoption events we’re always available for, you know, we put a little box out a little doghouse, um, for donations, So, we actually, this past May, we had the local business called the Chill Mill. They put on an event for us, which was a pastalia cook-off. And they sold pastalia for us, at $5 a bowl, and we ended up raising $700 just at that one event. Um and then it’s wonderful, and they actually approached us about it. Um, so we’re definitely open to more events, if any businesses, you know, come up with an idea, if they want to implement something, we’re definitely open to it.

 I’m always amazed at some of the rural organizations. It just seems like the business support that organizations get, in very small rural towns, is I mean, it’s amazing. You think it would be really hard, right? Because you’re in a small group and all these organizations are going after the same business is right. But I’m consistently amazed at how the local businesses, in very small rural towns, really support, specifically animal organizations. And I think, you know, for you guys, it’s really no different. I’m amazed, yes, and it’s consistent with all the businesses, in our parish and even outside of our parish, and, you know, you would think, Well, they don’t take animals from our parish, so why would we help them, right? That is 100% not the case. We have so much support from inside and outside of our community for fundraisers, and it’s absolutely what keeps us going. I mean, we could not do the medical care, which may be a little bit above and beyond what other organizations are able to do, because we have that kind of support. Improving, you know, our cat facility. We do have the free roam, but we would love to have kennels that are better for isolation so we can take care of those animals better in isolation. And, I mean, just those banks of kennels cost $5000, you know, we have enough money to care for our animals. But you know, anything outside of that, we kind of struggle. So we could definitely use more support and be able to do things like that and improve constantly. Yeah, we definitely want to encourage people to reach out to you guys and donate, right? And it doesn’t matter if it’s $5 a month or if it’s $50 a month, right? Every little bit helps. And, yeah, it’s not just the day to day, but it’s the other things that you need to do to keep improving, right? To keep the building up to date and, um, you know, to keep improving. Whether it’s kennels or, you know, just maintenance around the building. It’s really, really important, and you know the volunteers as well. And since you are in a small rural area, you know your pool of volunteers is smaller. So we want to encourage people to get out there and, you know, donate a couple of hours, even, even a week. And without the volunteers, you don’t really get very far, do you?

 That’s exactly it. I mean, our volunteers or everything from, um, you know, transporting to the vets and things like that. We don’t have our own vehicle. So we’re totally relying on volunteers to come and transport animals to the vets, to bring them back to the shelter. We need volunteers actually at the shelter, helping to care for the animals. We do have a unique situation where we have a work early center that will send us some work release offense, work release offenders. Um, and they volunteer their time as well actually. So they do not get paid to be there. Volunteer. Um, but we just need all the help we can get. Yeah, that sounds like another really, really cool piece again. And that’s probably tied into the relationship with the sheriff’s department. I’m assuming, right? Yes. That’s how that came about. Um they kindly offered that assistance to us and before it used to be the disciplinary offenders. That facility actually doesn’t have disciplinary there anymore. So we get, um, the guys that are trying to get a job. So before they’re able to get their job, they just come to the shelter and they’re only able to work a couple of days, and then they go to their job. So we get new guys every few days and you know, it’s hard to keep up with that training, but at least you know we have the manpower there. So for volunteers to be there, um, whether it’s consistent in a schedule ah, we do that. We have a rotation for Saturday afternoons, where people come once every couple of months, you know, anything like that, we would love to have the help. Yeah, Yeah, we definitely want to encourage that. And again, we’ll tie your website and all the social media platforms as well. So if anybody’s ever interested or curious, right, they’ll have a quick place to look and link too. Yeah. Great. Yeah.

 So last thing here and then we’ll start to wrap things up, but I always love to hear memorable stories. So, as of that tech and now the shelter manager. I’m curious if you have one story that really stands out to you that you want to share. Oh, my goodness. There really are so many situations that we have come across. Um, probably one of my favorites. One to mention was a kitten that actually was born with a defect, where her back legs were turned backwards. So my, um, and our local, one of our local vets, treated her with a series of splints to turn her legs around. She, her foster, actually ended up adopting her, and she has done great ever since. Um, so we do, you know, we’re able to do things like that, but probably the one that kind of tugs at my heart the most, um, is Bambi. Oh, and I know, Bambi, bless her heart. She’s a gorgeous brindle and white pit. Um, and we have trouble in our area with, you know, we have a lot of pits, and the town of St Francisville actually has a ban on pit bulls, which actually eliminates, you know, some of the people who can adopt from us. But Bambi, we tried for two and 1/2 years to get her a home. She had gone into foster and then was boarding for a while. Then she got an adopter, went back to a foster. Um, there was a family who adopted her that, there were three kids and she loved those kids. And those kids absolutely loved her. Um, unfortunately, a couple of weeks after they adopted her, they called Shannon, who is over our safe haven program with our pits. Um, they called her and said that they had family members who would not come to see them if Bambi was there. Oh, no. So we had to take Bambi back. Um, we found her another home she went to, and that adopter actually had some health problems that came up after the adoption, and she wasn’t able to care, physically care for her any longer. Um, and she ended up coming back to us. During that time, she blew out her ACL. And we had, um we had a wonderful volunteer who always steps up for us. Paid the $2000 for her to have her knee repaired. Wow. Um, and then so on it goes. And we were finally able to find another family for her and as she is there right now, she has blown out her other ACL. Oh, my goodness. And is in need of another surgery. And that same person who donated before, has donated again and is paying another $2000 for her other knee to be repaired. Oh my gosh, I got chills when you said that. I know it’s quite an adventure that Bambi has been on, but that’s, that’s why we keep doing this. That’s why, um, we show up every day. Look, it’s making me emotional,  that’s why we do it. That’s why we show up every day. You know why we do the hard stuff, that nobody wants to do because their stories are like that, like there’s a home for these animals. And you just have to, you know, keep fighting and keep trudging through. And we’re going to find that animal a home. It will work out, and we will do everything we can to make that happen. Yeah, that’s a beautiful story. And what a journey Bambi has had that poor doll. Like I mean I can’t even I can’t even imagine, You know, after 3 or 4 or 5 failed homes, for whatever reason, right? And then two major surgeries, Um, I do hope that Bambi is able to stay with her current owner, forever. And I sure hope so. Yeah, because it’s wonderful. And they love her. Yeah, And how amazing that the same person stepped up twice. Twice. Two major surgeries. I mean, that’s incredible. And people may look at that and say, Well, you know, that money could have gone elsewhere. But that’s the point is, it’s caring for this animal. And that person who donated, still continues to donate regularly for us and has paid for sponsored adoptions for us. Um, you know, so that members of the community who might not have been able to adopt are able to, um it doesn’t take away any of our other work. It’s only adding to it. Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty incredible. In each story that you come across like that definitely has an impact on the people you share it with, right? I know I’ll never forget the story of Bambi and the people involved in getting her to, you know, to her final destination. That’s pretty incredible. I definitely love that.

 So, Leann, we’ve actually talked about a lot today and I’ve enjoyed my time with you. Is there anything else that you want to share that we may have missed before we wrap things up? Um, I don’t think so. Just, um, you know, I just want to reiterate that people can, if they can’t help us, that they can help the Humane Societies, the animal shelters in their community. You know, we just want to get a lot more community involvement. If every person only gave 1% of their efforts towards animal shelters and rescue there, we would just be able to do anything. So we just encourage more, more community involvement. Get involved with your community, even if it’s not just the animal shelter. You know, there’s other things that that branch off of that are a great asset, that we encourage people to look too. Yeah, definitely. So if you can support the animal community, definitely do it. But if you can’t, find another program right, there’s always a way to help people and animals. Absolutely, a great way to end this. Leann, I’ve truly enjoyed my time with you. And thank you again. Oh, thank you for having me.

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