By Hannah Richardson, Lifestyle Editor
“Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.” This is what a stone reads before the steps of the newly constructed feline shelter, located at the Natchitoches Animal Shelter on Fairgrounds Road. The City of Natchitoches hosted a dedication ceremony for the facility Wednesday, July 17 to honor two individuals who have dedicated years of service, support and love for animals of the Natchitoches Community, Bobbye Lee and Dr. Brenda Woodard. Lee is a former director of Natchitoches Animal Control and Woodard is a doctor of veterinary medicine and professor at Northwestern State University.
At the ceremony, after NAC director Jon Meziere thanked the donors and constructors of the facility, Mayor Lee Posey said a few words to Lee and Woodard, thanking them for their contributions. “This is something special for our community,” said Posey. “Thank you for your dedication and your support.”
Natchitoches Humane Society President Juanita Murphy also had a few words for the crowd. “When Brenda Stamey and I brought the mayor out here [with Meziere] to the [original area for cats], it was 93 degrees in the shade with the fans on. This needed to happen.” The new cat shelter is separate from the dog area and has two screened-in outdoor areas for cats to play, climb and enjoy the sunshine, but also a cool and safe area they have access to.
Murphy said they decided to dedicate the building to Lee and Woodard because of all their work behind the scenes leading up to the building of the feline facility. “These ladies have worked for 20-30 years and have done miraculous things.”
Murphy said they have saved many animals that were on death’s door. “We dedicate this building to you ladies, and it’s not only by word-of-mouth or in the newspaper, but it is on the building forever,” Murphy said as she unveiled the plaque honoring Lee and Woodard. The two said they were both surprised when they learned the building would be dedicated to them.
“My whole life has been dedicated to cats, because they are so misunderstood,” said Lee. Lee said she is even fostering several cats right now. “These animals have helped me though a very, very void time in my life. This honor – I just can’t believe it.” Lee said she is going to continue working for this cause. Woodard said she was also very honored to have this dedication alongside Lee.
Murphy mentioned that in 2010, NHS, who has a long relationship with the animal shelter, raised money from a nationwide contest for the kennels inside the feline facility. Recently, Barbara Vercher-Smith, a volunteer at the animal shelter and also a former student of Woodard, submitted a video for a contest on shelterchallenge.com of her former foster dog, Chevy.
Chevy is now with his family in Michigan but the video showing his wild puppy antics won a runner-up spot and $1,000 will be granted to the NHS, which Vercher-Smith announced at the ceremony.