Humane Society and partners work together to save animal lives

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Administering medicine to one of the pups are NHS volunteer Karn Richoux and Ron Dellinger from the City of Natchitoches Animal Control Shelter.

By Hannah Richardson

When organizations have the means to partner with others with the same mission in mind, absolutely incredible feats can be accomplished. This can be said of the local animal rescue facility, Natchitoches Humane Society, and successes they have seen as they partner with other animal-advocating organizations both near and far.

For several years, the Natchitoches Humane Society (NHS) has been dedicated to rescuing the local abandoned and neglected animals and making sure they receive any necessary medical treatment, spaying or neutering, socialization and love while waiting to be placed or relocated. Their rescue facility, Happy Tails, is located on the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center grounds. NHS President Juanita Murphy recently sat down with me to discuss what it takes to upkeep their mission of rescuing these local animals, and it is no easy task. She started making contacts since serving a role on the Board of the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission and now works with several organizations to achieve their goals of rescuing animals.

“Now I am working with Kathy Owsley and Debbie Tebbetts to show them how to work with NSALA and the feline program to get more cats rescued,” said Murphy. “I’m working with Karn Richoux from NSU on doing all the canine behavior evaluations.

From left, at Happy Tails, are Jeffrey Simmons, Juanita Murphy, Sheriff Stuart Wright and past Sheriff Victor Jones. Happy TAILS has been in operation at the NPSO Detention Center since 2010. The folders keep the records of all the animals the Humane Society has rescued since 2014. So far this year, they have saved a total of 140 animals and 299 last year. They saved 47 parish, 18 city and 88 private in 2017; 74 parish, 74 city and 94 private in 2018; and 130 parish, 46 city and 78 private in 2019.

North Shore Animal Rescue League, based in Port Washington, N.Y., touts itself as the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Their mission is to rescue, nurture, adopt and educate.

Manager Karla Agostinello said they started working with shelters in the south in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in August 2020. These shelters needed all the help they could get, and North Shore had the means to provide that assistance. North Shore travels to areas reaching all the way to Texas several times a month to get animals to their no-kill shelters in the north, where there is plenty of room. Agostinello said they are very aware of the large amount of animals in our local shelters and reach out so these pups have a chance in the north to find a good and loving home.

The animals taken in by North Shore Animal League America were featured on Good
Morning America on National Puppy Day ABC News Chief meteorologist Ginger Zee even adopted her dog Brando from North Shore.

After working with Tanya Parker of Paws 4 Life in Shreveport, the wheels were set in motion to take local rescued animals up north. About two months ago, Parker let Murphy know that Paws 4 Life will be affiliated with North Shore in New York and encouraged her to be involved as well. Just recently, 32 dogs at the Humane Society were transported to North Shore’s facility. “Each dog has to meet certain requirements,” said Murphy. “Puppies need sets of shots, such as heartworm and flea prevention, dewormer, rabies shots, medical appointments.

Big dogs need all of that, plus a heartworm test, and behavior assessments.” Not only do all of these requirements need to be met, but there is a ton of paperwork that needs to be done for each dog in order to get them transported.

“These [organizations] are our lifelines,” said Murphy. “Without these people helping us, so many animals would have either been killed on the road.” There is also the chance they could go to shelters with a chance of being euthanized.

The NHS also works with the local Animal Control Shelter to get dogs into safety and recently, helped to clean out the shelter. She also credits Dr. David James of James Veterinary Clinic for providing medical care, Dr. Joey Bynog of Good Hope Veterinary Hospital, the Hope for Paws shelter who also provides care for local rescues and the many volunteers and fosters under their umbrella who care for animals until a permanent placement can be found. To help with the overpopulation problem, the parish also funds a spay/neuter program. For more information on that program and the NHS, visit natchitocheshumanesociety.rescuegroups.org and keep up with them on social media.

“We are rolling with the punches, and the punches are every day,” said Murphy. “There are more dogs than there are adopters here in this area.” She said North Shore is really making it possible for a happy ending for these animals.

On April 22, North Shore Animal League America posted a video on Facebook discussing their team’s arrival with two mobile rescue units that carried approximately 100 animals looking for loving homes. The pups went to the group’s Global Pet Adoptathon the following week. In the video was Theodore Moriates, holding the adorable Happy, who was rescued from Campti by the Natchitoches Humane Society.

On April 20, 32 pups from the NHS, along with several Natchitoches Hope for Paws pups and volunteers, traveled from Bossier Parish with Shreveport’s Paws 4 Life transports to New York. These pups have to go through several health care exams as required by North Shore. Murphy said it costs approximately $70 per dog when it comes to getting them prepared through exams, vaccines, etc. North Shore and Paws 4 Life pay for the transport expenses, which can costs thousands of dollars, and even more medical costs for the animals when they arrive in New York.

Thanks to North Shore and all of the shelters they have come into contact with, these puppies also have the opportunity to be seen on national television. NHS pups have been featured in Good Morning America segments and recently featured on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in the “2021 Kentucy Derby Puppy Predictors” competition. Actually, one of the NHS puppies that competed was Tigger, who was named the Puppy Predictor and winner in the segment! (See Video Here)

Tigger, originally rescued by the Natchitoches Humane Society from Natchitoches with the
help of Sonja and Layton Palmer, was named the 2021 Kentucky Derby Champion in a segment on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon promoting the North Shore Animal League America.

Keep up with Northshore Animal League on social media or their website: www.animalleague.org.

Agostinello said the group works closely with Parker with Paws 4 Life.

Parker, who founded Paws 4 Life in the Shreveport area around 2016, has worked closely with Murphy for several years before that, and also assists in getting these pets into the hands of North Shore. Murphy said Parker is so vivacious and works tirelessly in her efforts. Parker said they are dedicated to their partnerships with shelters in the Northwest Louisiana area, including NHS, to improve the lives of these animals in need.

The volunteer-based group partners to pull animals in an attempt to reduce the shelter population and euthanasia. Parker said she believes euthanizing should only be acceptable in humane cases, as many no-kill shelters advocate to get animals out before that point, whether it be in foster homes until a home is found or by taking them up north. It is a very costly exercise to provide transportation, but rescue dogs are actually in a high demand in the north as overpopulation isn’t as problematic as it is in the south due to the north’s strict spay/neuter laws. Paws 4 Life has saved more than 6,000 pets from euthanasia since their founding.

Keep up with Paws 4 Life on their Facebook Page.

Kate Healey-Dubuque, founder and president of Little Rhody Rescue and Quarantine in Rhode Island, said their organization is run by volunteers and they are a force to be reckoned with. Little Rhody has rescued over 10,000 dogs from shelters considered to be “high kill” in Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana. She worked as an animal control officer and then got more involved in the rescue where she adopted her puppy, Guinness.

Healey-Dubuque said she met Murphy around 2017-18 at the Humane Society through Keri Bullock Toth of the U Care Project in Deville. With the vast difference between here and Rhode Island, they communicate via phone and text. She met Bullock when she travelled to Rhode Island for an ambitious rescue/adoption event. “You hear a lot through rescue networks and knowing Keri and having such high regard of her and her opinion, I had no reason to not to love Juanita,” said Healey-Dubuque. “She is the absolute epitome of a southern lady! She’s cheerful, accommodating, hospitable, eager to assist, knowledgeable and compassionate. Her attention to detail and knowledge of veterinary medicine is refreshing, constant and consistent.”

They met after an encounter with a dog named Iris was found in the parish with her siblings after being abandoned and eating Styrofoam containers on the side of the highway for weeks. Murphy and Toth collaborated on getting Iris to Rhode Island after she was prepared for adoption. She said many southerners don’t realize they see very few to no dogs in their own shelters due to their strict spay/neuter laws. Every animal Little Rhody attends to is spayed/neutered, vaccinated and treated for heartworms if positive, microchipped, dewormed, receive interstate health certificates then transported to Rhode Island. Little Rhody has received 300-350 dogs from the Humane Society since they met.

“Kate and Little Rhody Rescue have been the most instrumental people in teaching us what and how to do what we need to do to get these animals in the best possible condition before transport,” said Murphy. “I can’t give her enough credit for her experience and her high expectations of the NHS.”

Keep up with Little Rhody Rescue on Facebook, Instagram or visit littlerhodyrescue.com.

These organizations and those dedicated individuals that keep them running are instrumental in finding a better lives for these animals. If you are interesting in provided assistance in their endeavors, please feel free to reach out via social media or their respective websites.