Louisiana Rescue Dogs Saved From Euthanasia During Hurricane Barry Evacuation

By Shelbi Malonson

As Hurricane Barry loomed over Louisiana, the St. Landry Parish Animal Control and Rescue was desperately looking for a way to save the hundreds of animals in its care.

On July 12, animal rescue volunteers prepared the animals for their escape; they were loaded onto an aircraft at the St. Landry Parish Airport that would carry them out of the storm’s path, according to USA Today.

Each kennel was carefully labeled with the pet’s destination, and their name, such as Barbie and Mama Lillie.

Animal shelter director Stacey Alleman McKnight said the animals were heading to rescue shelters in northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, according to the news outlet.

The last-minute evacuation was carried out in hopes of avoiding the potential euthanization of many of the shelter animals. Earlier that week, the shelter posted a call for help on Facebook. The post, which was shared thousands of times, asked for assistance from anyone with the ability to take in some of the shelter’s animals.

Overcrowding Before the Storm

According to McKnight, the shelter received 20 additional dogs to care for overnight, whose owners weren’t confident in their ability to care for their pets during the dangerous storm conditions. McKnight stated that the the St. Landry facility was already overcrowded, and the incoming storm exacerbated the problem.

“We were just running out of space here and some of those you see here may have had to be put down,” McKnight said. “What we’re seeing here right now is our whole shelter population is leaving. We couldn’t leave them here due to the weather conditions. They would have been left in kennels and outdoors. No way could we keep the water out.”

She said that some of the dogs would most likely have been euthanized if not for help from nationwide rescue organizations and volunteers.

“When we ask our volunteers to come help us, they respond,” she recounted. “What you see is nothing new. They’re amazing, our backbone and they have done this time after time.”

A Race Against the Clock

The rescue was a race against the clock; Hurricane Barry severely limited the time available to complete the rescue. Despite the haste, Julie Breaux, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, told USA Today she was hopeful everything would end safely.

“It’s going to be close, a lot closer than you want to be when you have this many animals,” Breaux said.

Breaux assisted volunteers as they transitioned dogs into kennels. She also revealed that the plane used to evacuate the pets was funded by national rescue organizations.

Acadiana Animal Aid also helped transport a van full of dogs. There were approximately 15 dogs brought in from St. Martin Parish as part of the rescue. In addition, many cats from other shelters throughout the Acadiana, Louisiana area were brought in.

McKnight said that the animals should immediately become adoptable, upon arriving at their destinations.

“We had the veterinarian out here to give the vaccinations and the dogs are flight ready,” she added, according to the news outlet. “It’s going to be a feel good day today and the pets are going to win.”