A Refuge From the Storm

I joke with people that I am learning Louisiana geography through animal rescue. It’s true. I have driven all over rural southern Louisiana to visit animal shelters and spring dogs from doggy jails. A few weeks ago I drove up to Folsom, Louisiana, which is about an hour north of New Orleans.  It was a lovely day for a drive across the lake. Fun fact: with a length of 24 miles, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the world’s longest bridge over water. I have driven it many times this year while taking Tres, my former tripod foster, to his specialized physical therapy sessions. (If you have ever driven it in driving rain with very low visibility, you will know why I strongly prefer these sunny, clear days.)

Why Folsom? Prior to Hurricane Harvey, all of the Take Paws Rescue animals were housed in volunteer foster homes like mine. Last August, Take Paws Rescue,  partnered with The Inner Pup of New Orleans (TIPNO), to convert a 5,000 square-foot workshop on a 17 acre residential homestead in Folsom, LA into a temporary home for dogs that have been rescued from the flooded shelters of Hurricane Harvey in St. Landry, Vermillion and Iberia Parishes of Louisiana, as well as flooded areas of Texas. Originally purchased as a refuge from city life for the Goldring family (the founders of TIPNO) and their personal dogs, the family generously offered the space for immediate rescue use after Harvey. The heartbreaking truth is that already over crowded shelters would have to euthanize animals in order to make room unless rescues and adopters stepped in to take the animals.  Sadly, in this region, there are always more animals in need than there are rescues and resources to save them. Rescue organizations outside of the immediate area also offered to host these displaced companions if they had space, but this was insufficient to meet the overwhelming and immediate demand.

 

Why are there so many dogs in need? Sadly, as many as eighty percent of dogs in rescue shelters in Louisiana are euthanized.  This kill rate is one of the highest in the United States and unfortunately represents the culture of how supposed companion animals are regarded in the U.S. South. In search of longer-term solutions to pet overpopulation, Take Paws Rescue is partnered with TIPNO, whose mission is to create a network of accessible, affordable resources, enlightened attitudes, and accountability so that families embrace pets, and to end the cycle of abuse, neglect and overpopulation through community education and prevention programs.

In the short–term, Take Paws moves animals into foster and forever homes as quickly as possible, but there are always more dogs in need than there are open foster homes. The TIPNO Takes Paws refuge allows us to save the lives of more animals by pulling them out of overcrowded and underfunded animal shelters, getting them all necessary veterinary care, spaying and neutering, and listing them for adoption with fully vetted applicants. The refuge is a wonderful facility with plenty of room for the dogs to run and play outside. It is a place to heal on the way to their forever homes!

Look who I met at Folsom, Buddy and Boss, our latest guests at The Cecchine Hotel for dogs. Since August of 2017, the TIPNO Takes Paws refuge has housed 175 dogs and going forward we expect to house as many as 30 to 40 dogs per month. We believe it is important to maintain a surge capacity so that we will be ready for the next natural disaster emergency that our region will inevitably face.

Our team has many volunteers, but the demand to provide the best care for these displaced pets is nearly overwhelming. As well as fostering, I am currently seeking grants and writing funding proposals for for the TIPNO Takes Paws Refuge.

To help as many pets as we can, we are in need of: 

-A bathing station for pets – and a bathroom for the people staff!

-A vehicle to safely move animals to and from veterinary care, which is vital to them being healthy enough to be adopted

-Medical supplies(including heartworm and flea and tick protection) and funding for veterinary care

-Pet food (We go through at least 20 bags of dog food every month), treats, and toys

-Cleaning supplies

-Bedding and blankets to keep the pets safe and comfortable, as well as heaters and fans

 

We always need more short-term fosters:  http://takepawsrescue.org/foster/

 

Want to DONATE to Take Paws Rescue (via Paypal)?

or you can send checks to:

The Inner Pup of New Orleans
 5208 magazine Street, Suite 357
 New Orleans, LA 70115

I will happily accept donated items and drive them to our pups in need in Folsom. 
Just get in touch with me at: daniellececchine@icloud.com 

BOTH GROUPS ARE 501C3 NONPROFITS AND YOUR DONATION IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE

 

Boss (black and white) and Buddy(brown and white) are both doing really well. Boss has found his forever home and Buddy (with his free hugs) has found his way into my heart. He will be tough to say farewell to.

Buddy is currently accepting applications for a lifetime of free hugs at: http://takepawsrescue.org/adopt/

 

ADOPT DON’T SHOP

Why I Foster – Meet Lila

Grand Opening of the Cecchine Hotel for Dogs

Finding our second dog, Ollie, opened the door to the world of rescue. I am a one to go down rabbit holes on the Internet, and this was no exception. I was fascinated to learn about the local rescue organizations and the work they are doing here in New Orleans. I first stumbled across NOLA Lab Rescue on Facebook last January. NOLA Labrador Retriever Rescue is a volunteer run, nonprofit organization dedicated to placing unwanted, abandoned and abused Labrador Retrievers and Lab mixes into approved, permanent, loving homes and promoting responsible pet ownership. I looked around and latched onto a single post seeking fosters for puppies. This particular tiny, needy puppy looked a lot like my yellow lab. Our first dog was a lab because my husband has a lot of experience with them. Labrador Retrievers are consistently among the most popular breeds in the US. They make wonderful pets. They love exercise, playing fetch, and swimming. Labs are loyal and kind, gentle and patient with kids, great with other dogs, and they are intelligent and easy to train. So, I’m looking at this picture of a lab puppy. I like puppies. OK, I love puppies. I could get one, like immediately. I impulsively volunteered, filled out a foster application, and impatiently waited to get my first foster puppy. I named her Lila.

Its just temporary, I told my husband. Many, many times I told him that. (I don’t think he believed me yet). Lila stayed with us from January through March 2017. She was transported to upstate New York for adoption and is now living happily ever after in her forever home. She was my training puppy, (as far as rescue work goes). I learned a lot through my rescue experiences with Lila. There are an amazing group of volunteers in place to get the word out about dogs in need, to pull dogs from high kill shelters and get them in foster homes, and to coordinate adoption (from phone interviews, to vet checks, to home checks). There are people volunteering to transport them across the country to get to forever homes. In Lila’s case, all the way from New Orleans to upstate New York. We sometimes have drivers going long distances and sometimes have 20 drivers each taking a short leg. It amazes me that people do this, and at the same time, it is such an easy and rewarding thing to do, it surprises me that more people don’t.

I’ll admit it. I started fostering for selfish reasons.  We can’t afford the vet bills for more dogs, but I want more dogs, so fostering is a good option. By becoming a foster parent, I am not only gaining a fluffy guest, I could be saving two dog’s lives. I am taking one dog out of a stressful, high-kill shelter, and I am also opening up a cage for another dog in need. NOLA Lab Rescue is a no-kill dog rescue where dogs never run out of time. NOLA labs live in caring foster homes for anywhere from a few days or a few months while waiting to find their forever homes. As a foster, I provide a safe home and food, and the rescue pays for all of the vet care and can supply crates and other necessary items as needed. Is it hard? Nope. (Like having kids, only the first one is hard.) Do I get attached? Absolutely. I love these dogs. So, how do I send them away then? It’s actually simple. I’m more happy for the dog that is finding the right forever home than I am sad for me. Also, one dog checking out of the Cecchine Hotel for Dogs means we have room for another guest, and we get to save another life. That is why I do this. It feels really, really good.

How can you help? Animal rescue runs on volunteers. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, you can volunteer at adoption events.  Rescue groups near you could use your help in the following areas: fosters, adoption screeners, animal transport volunteers, public outreach and fundraising, social media, dog training, and photography. No time at all? Rescue groups will very thankfully accept donations of dog food, crates, leashes, and tax deductible donations to pay the vet bills. Many rescues have an Amazon Wishlist. 

Why are we moving dogs from Louisiana to NY or VA or Maine? Why does the world need more rescue volunteers? Well the euthanasia statistics are depressing, I’ll get to that. I’m going to go cuddle a puppy now…

Lila - fostered 27 Jan - 10 March 2017 ; adopted in NY

Please spay and neuter your pets!

 

 

Henry and Edward – Arooooo

Those eyes. Those big, sad eyes. I followed the posts about this stray beagle until they were marked URGENT. I reached out to every beagle and hound rescue between Louisiana and Florida. I couldn’t get those eyes out of my head. I could not let this dog die.

There are deadlines in rescue, both for the dogs and the fosters. The dogs that are in the shelter the longest are at the highest risk of being put down. If someone brings new dogs to the shelter, and they don’t have space, the long-timers have to go. Henry and Edward (pictured together above) were already sharing a crate. The shelter was full. They were facing a hard deadline.

I had a short window in which I could rescue a dog. I had foster dogs coming and going on transport quarantines. These dogs were going to Virginia for adoption. When stray, or in a shelter, these pups have been exposed to a lot. They go into foster homes for about three weeks and we make sure that they are healthy and ready to travel. At the end of their quarantine, the foster takes them to the vet to get a Health Certificate, which allows them to cross state lines legally. This documents that they are healthy and up-to-date on all immunizations, have current rabies tags, and even lists their microchip number (in case they get lost). During the quarantine time, you don’t want to bring in a new dog from the shelter that might expose them to new illness. Worms and kennel cough are highly contagious. So, I’m always getting in new dogs, but the timing has to be managed.

I hate worms. I never used to. I wasn’t overly fond of them, ever, but they never used to be the enemy. I feel like I’m fighting battle after battle against worms. Roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, whipworm, heartworm, worm, worm, worm, worm, worm. They come to us with worms. I didn’t used to know what deworming was. Now I rely on it.

Worms are the most common health problem in dogs. Here are the signs that your dog might have worms:

Visible worms in the feces Tapeworms appear as small moving segments that look like rice. Roundworms look like pasta.

Diarrhea  If you see soft stools, your dog may have worms. If you see bloody stools, they may have hookworms, which are not visible to the eye.

Vomiting If your dog is vomiting, there may be worms behind it. If they are roundworms, they can be visible in the 
vomit.

Sudden changes in appetite If your dog is infected with roundworms, you may notice a loss of appetite. as the worm's multiply and steal the dog's nutrients, an increase in appetite will be apparent.

Weight loss Tapeworms and whipworms can cause sudden weight loss.

Loss of energy A lethargic dog may have worms.

Itching and Scooting Worms can sometimes cause skin irritations and itching in the anbal region. If you see your dog scooting across the floor or ground, they are trying to relieve the itch. Have your vet check for worms, as well as 
checking their anal glands.

Bloated puppies Puppies can easily pick up worms from their mother and often 
appear to have bloated tummies. Puppies can be infected with the mother's 
roundworms at birth.  Puppies also contract worms by eating larvated eggs in 
their environment or the larvae can be passed through the mother's milk. 
Nursing mothers should be kept on monthly preventives and treated for 
infestations to decrease the risk of transmission. Puppies should be dewormed 
at 2, 4, 6,and 8 weeks of age and then receive a preventive monthly treatment. 
Fecal examinations should be conducted several times per year.

Cough Dogs with hookworms, roundworms, or advanced heart worms can develop a cough.

Dogs' worms are contagious, they are shared by coming into contact with an 
infected dog's feces. (Scoop it up right away if you can.) Roundworms are 
the most common and do pose a risk to us as well as to other pets. Contact 
with contaminated soil or feces can result in human infection. 
Roundworm eggs may accumulate in the soil where your pets go. Walking 
barefoot in that area should be avoided.  Roundworms can cause eye, lung, 
heart and neurologic problems in humans. Children and pregnant women are 
most at risk. Remove feces regularly to keep your dog's play area clean, 
and wash your hands thoroughly.

If you suspect worms in your dog, take them to the vet. Most intestinal 
worms are easily treated with medication. If left untreated, a severe 
infestation of worms could damage your dog’s internal organs and lead to 
loss of consciousness and death.

Henry, like many strays in Louisiana, is heartworm positive. I will be learning all about heartworm treatment  as we get him through it. Step 1 is to start monthly heartworm preventatives and 30 days of doxycycline, a pretty serious antibiotic. Doxy is used to fight the bacteria that come along with heart worms. If your dog has heartworm there is a lengthy and expensive process of treatment. Heartworm is awful, and fully preventable with monthly preventive medication.  Consult with your vet for recommendations for your dog.

Here is my worm haiku:

Now we are not friends
The worms live within the dogs
Pooped out

I know it’s gross, but look at your dogs poo. If it looks or smells different, something just isn’t right. Talk to your vet.

Back to the beagles. I had a short window. Henry and Edward had a short window. I am not exaggerating when I say that I spent about 18 hours trying to convince various rescue groups to help me help these dogs. I was close to begging. As much as I wanted to just drive over and pick Henry up, I couldn’t. I would have had to adopt him and take on his medical expenses, which I cannot do. I want to help as many dogs as possible, and that way won’t work.  So, I kept reaching out. I finally found a rescue willing to help, *if we could raise some money to defray the medical costs. Heartworm treatment can be expensive; prevention is cheap. I had never done any fundraising before, but I was determined-going-on-obsessed that this beagle, Henry, was not going to die. A wonderful mother of my son’s school friend made a donation. Once we had that, the ball started rolling, and we were able to raise enough money to get Henry out. Coco’s House Senior Sanctuary and Rescue in Mississippi, was willing to help, but we had to rescue Edward also. N o beagle left behind! I was able to bring them both home and breath a huge sigh of relief. Sometimes you pick a dog; you can’t get it out of your mind. You HAVE to rescue that dog. Henry was like that for me. I fought for him. He was the first dog that I fought for. And I won. I saved him. It felt great.

Edward was a sweet dog…with Henry. Unlike Henry, Edward was not neutered. He came into my house and immediately tried to establish dominance with every other dog here, including some very large ones. It wasn’t going to work out. I was worried about every dog’s safety. I had to keep him separated overnight, and then I drove him to Mississippi to the rescue the next day.

Henry, on the other hand, was chill. He was reluctant to even enter the house for the first few days. It was obvious that he had never been an indoor dog. Henry likes to curl up on a particular chair on my front porch office and snooze. He is usually the first dog to alert the pack that another canine is approaching the house. He has a great nose. He howls. He has a great howl too. He alerts and then all of my dogs run along the fence while a dog is walked by. Henry’s our dog alarm. He is very protective of us. But mostly, Henry naps.

Gradually, Henry learned the many joys of indoor dog life. In other words, he is now happy to be a pampered pet. Those big brown eyes aren’t sad anymore. This is his I’M-RESCUED-FACE. I love this face!

My husband calls Henry ‘Barny Fife’. Henry is pretty low-energy most of the day, but he is a morning dog, and a ringleader. He likes to get up and play a good game of chase. He grabs a toy and runs. All of the other dogs chase, and try to get the toy. There is howling involved. (I love it when the puppies try to imitate his howl.) We try to keep this game quick and distract the dogs.  I’m sure my neighbors will appreciate it. Just like with kids, it’s hard to stop them from having fun, even if it is loud.

Henry always goes to the front door when I call for all of the dogs to go to their cages as I’m leaving the house. They all run to their cages and get a treat. He stands at the door. He wants to come along. Henry loves to window surf in the car. He also likes to table surf. He’s basically a surf dude. He is clever, very sneaky. When in the house, you can often find Henry lying underneath the dining room table, but occasionally you will find him standing on top of it, surveying his kingdom, maybe having a light snack. (I no longer leave bowls of fruit on the table. He likes fruit.)

Henry likes to wander. We actually have to keep him from running out the front gate. On a leash, he moves at a snail’s pace, leisurely sniffing and strolling, absolutely in no hurry to get anywhere. This beagle drops my blood pressure and chills me out.

Day by day, we have watched Henry feel better, become more playful and wag his tail more. It’s wonderful to watch the transformation as these dogs get healthy and learn to be indoor dogs. Henry isn’t out of the woods yet.  On June 1st he will get his first of several lumbar injection to kill the actual heartworms.  This will require periods of confinement while he is getting better. I can’t wait to post pictures of him happy and healthy and worm-free!

Henry - fostered 18 March 2017 - present 
Edward - pulled from the shelter 18 March 2017 and driven to Coco's House Senior Sanctuary and Rescue in MS

 

Volunteering to Hold Puppies Is My Kind of Volunteering

Now that I am getting involved in animal rescue and learning about the local rescue organizations, I thought it would good to get the kids involved.  A few months ago, we made our bi-weekly pilgrimage to Company Burger, which just happens to be across the Street from Zeus’ Place. I have several friends who have adopted dogs from Zeus’ Place, and they always have a cute sign out that says something funny, like Slighty Used Kittens.  We walked in before dinner and asked about volunteering. My daughter and I have been helping out at their weekend adoption events ever since.  We spend a few hours with the adoptable dogs, sometimes in front of Petco, sometimes at Dat Dog (where you get a free hot dog if you adopt a dog). We get to hold puppies and walk the older dogs around to meet people. These animals are so happy for the attention. I found out that my daughter, who is 9, can read a cheat sheet of dog information, memorize the pertinent details, and make a pretty good hard sell.  It feels so good when someone fills out an application for adoption.

Michelle Ingram opened this New Orleans pet rescue, boarding and grooming establishment in 2006. After working in animal rescue for over a decade, Hurricane Katrina made her realize the importance of doing what you love. I am 100% in support of that. I like to say that I could have nice things, but I’d rather have a dog to cuddle up to (or you know 5 or 6).  Zeus’ Place is named after Michelle’s chocolate Labrador Retriever, who died of cancer not long before Katrina hit. This year they have expanded and they welcome new volunteers for adoption events and as registered dog walkers.  They often have litters of absolutely adorable puppies, and I’m happy to report that they are very quickly adopted out. If you follow along on Zeus’ Facebook page, you will see what I mean. Zeus’ also has a full range of mutts and iffy dogs of every size, shape, and color. If you are in New Orleans and looking to adopt, foster, or just take an iffy dog for a walk, check them out. Afterwards, you can walk up Freret street for an awesome hamburger at Company Burger or a really good hot dog at Dat Dog, both offer pet friendly outdoor seating.

I love the way that the local businesses are supporting rescue organizations, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon with my daughter than cuddling puppies, walking dogs, and helping them find their forever homes. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Kids should volunteer in the community, they should see their parents volunteer. It makes them better people.

May 2nd is Give NOLA Day, a tax-deductible way to support New Orleans non-profits like Zeus’ Place. Please consider a donation to this or one of your local rescues!

Michelle was recently on the news:  Here’s what Zeus’ Rescues is doing to end pet homelessness in New Orleans area

Give back. Volunteer. It just might be the best part of your weekend.