BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As I was walked through the Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) facility, all I kept wondering was whether or not Diego St. Pierre, my very head-strong Yorkshire Terrier, would allow me to foster a dog or two, or three, or 650, from CAA.
Wow! Every inch of that facility was full of black dog kennels, and every kennel was home to one or more dogs rescued from recent flooding.
I couldn't stay inside for very long and actually found myself tearing up at the sight and sounds of the hundreds of large, medium, and small breed dogs caged and so desperately seeking a home. And I couldn't help but think I could never, ever see Diego inside one of these kennels!
Some dogs were barking loudly and moving all about their cage. Others lay quietly as if trying to meditate away the unbearable decibel hundreds of barking dogs generate. And yet others were scared, visibly scared – shaking as if they were freezing cold. Confused, sad, homeless. The sight of those dogs in particular broke my heart.
I wanted to take each of them and cradle them in my arms and assure them everything was going to be okay, and I actually did exactly that with one or two.
While CAA is doing a remarkable job of keeping these homeless animals healthy, safe, and well fed, it was obvious these beautiful creatures longed for their owners and their warm, loving homes again.
"We're not having a lot of people that come and find their animals," explained CAA executive director Beth Brewster. "We are having many owners come and redeem their animals."
Yet other owners have contacted CAA to give them the sad news they will not be reclaiming their pets, that the tragedy of losing everything in their home was proving to be too much on them emotionally to also have the responsibility of a dog.
The hallways at CAA were almost impassable – kennels everywhere. The volunteer's conference room now wall-to-wall kennels. The garage at CAA as well as the yard outside – kennels. Huge box fans lined the hallways, kennel areas, and outside, working overtime to keep these pets as comfortable as possible.
And yes, CAA is a temporary home to quite literally 650 dogs at the moment - some 300 over their maximum capacity.
"The very first thing we need is for owners to please claim their pets," Beth continued. "So please, if you're missing your animal, please come see us today ASAP!"
The CAA has received ample amounts of food donations for n ow. But there are other pressing needs to be met.
"The other thing we need are volunteers. We're doing a lot of cleaning. So volunteers!"
And if you cannot volunteer your time, the CAA gladly accepts monetary gifts. "We're starting to get some upper respiratory because of the overcrowding," Beth said. "So we're spending a lot of money on medicines. So donations of any amount helps cover those costs."
"Well, I not only do the traffic in the mornings at Channel 9,I said, approaching Beth with a smile. "I have taken over the Hand It On responsibilities, nd we're gonna kinda help toward the medicine costs by giving you $300!"
Beth grabbed me in an appreciative hug as I handed her three crisp $100 bills. "Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed, near tears. "Thank you so much; thank you! I really appreciate it. All of this goes to our animals. That is unbelievable."
No Beth – what is unbelievable is the awesome job you and your staff and volunteers are doing for our community of pets. These are very trying times. And to be there for our four-legged companions, often a thankless job, is a blessing from above.
Thank you Companion Animal Alliance and the many, many other shelters and individuals throughout our region doing the same thing. How can we as a community repay such a debt?
Anyone who would like to donate or volunteer can visit the CAA's website.
To nominate a person or organization for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@WAFB.com. And be certain we have your contact information including your phone number.