A group of animal organizations have come together to form the Gulf Coast Companion Animal Relief Program, a program designed to provide services to pet owners encountering economic hardship as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil rig explosion in late April.
“The coastal parish animal shelters have experienced two to three times the number of pets being relinquished than last summer,” said Ana Zorrilla, chief executive officer of the Louisiana SPCA, one of the participating organizations. “Studies have shown pets reduce stress, aid in overcoming depression and loss and provide comfort in times of need. Knowing how bonded people are with their pets, it’s heartbreaking to hear of families having to make this kind of decision. The pets have become innocent victims of this disaster.”
As part of the program, free pet care will be provided to the residents of Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish, Terrebonne Parish and Jefferson Parish affected by the spill, i.e. those who work in the fishing industry. Proof of eligibility is required.
The free pet care is made possible through a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the lead sponsor of the program. ASPCA estimates that its initial contribution will prevent 1,000 family pets from facing relinquishment by their owners.
The service includes a basic exam, including tests for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus in cats and heartworms in dogs; vaccinations; microchip and registration; and spay/neuter surgery. Services are provided at the LA/SPCA by licensed veterinarians.
Appointments will be provided on a first come first serve basis through November. To schedule an appointment, call (504) 363-1333 or (504)368-5191 ext. 141.
In addition, Del Monte Foods will donate 41,000 pounds of Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food.
Other organizations involved in the program include: Best Friends Animal Society, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, Second Harvest Food Bank (local affiliate of Feed America), St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter, Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society, Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter and Terrebonne Animal Shelter.
For further details, visit the website.