LA Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry building second mobile pet shelter

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For the Parks family, the August flood was a huge hurdle; not only because their home took on over 30 inches of water but because they had three basset hounds to take care of in addition to the chaos.

"The most terrifying part of all this was, we just didn't know what was gonna happen to our dogs. We didn't know where we were gonna end up," said Glenda Parks.

Glenda Parks said as the water found its way in their home, help soon came by way of a boat.

However, because most shelters weren't accepting animals, her biggest worry was still her dogs.

"We didn't know what was gonna happen to us or the dogs. Being directed to a place where dogs would be accepted would have been an amazing thing because I'm not gonna leave my dogs behind," Parks said.

The Parks ended up staying with friends, but others were not so lucky and turned to local shelters. Many were brought to Celtic Media Centre, one of only two shelters accepting pets.

"When you think about it, pets are like family and a lot of people just refuse to leave a family member behind," said Patrick Mulhern with Celtic Media Centre.

Keeping both pets and owners safe is why the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry decided to build a second mobile pet shelter. LDAF received a $72,100 grant from the Banfield Foundation.

"We are appreciative of the Banfield Foundation's grant which will assist in our efforts to co-locate people and their pets during evacuations. When sheltering evacuees, having a place to co-locate their pets is a source of comfort for them knowing their pets are safe, secure and located nearby." LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said. "The evacuation, transportation and sheltering of household pets during disasters has proven to become necessary as a lifesaving measure. In the past, victims have refused assistance unless their pets were accommodated."

This 45-foot mobile shelter will have water and feed bowls, 54 cages, and air ventilation systems.

Parks said having another mobile shelter available during a disaster will save lives and a headache.

"My big concern was where do they go. Not having a place for them or having crates for them to stay in or having transportation to get them anywhere or to be able to buy dog food or water," Parks said.

"There's no question that if we have plans in advanced of what to do with pets then we'll save lives," Mulhern said.

LDAF said this mobile shelter will be used when "no-notice events, such as the August 2016 flood, occur where pet sheltering facilities are not available."

The mobile shelter can be used for search and rescue missions and will be ready for use by August.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.