Acadiana Animal Aid celebrated the opening of their new quarantine kennels today.
Last year, Hurricane Delta destroyed the non-profit, no-kill shelter's facility where newly accepted dogs are held while they're vetted, to be sure they're healthy before they're transferred into the main shelter. The group took advantage of that disaster to rebuilt the kennels bigger and better.
"These kennels are a huge improvement from what we had before. The dogs have more room, there's electricity - they're going to help with engagement for the dogs but also with operations of the staff," said Executive Director Jeanine Foucher.
Foucher said the initial news was bad, but as usual the AAA community stepped up to make lemonade out of hurricane lemons.
"It was amazing. I remember when I found out about the damage, I felt completely overwhelmed," Foucher said. "But I never had to worry, because every single volunteer, every single staff member and community member came out to help us create these kennels so we can continue saving lives."
The old facility was "demolished," she said, as if a tornado had taken it.
"For us, it was very concerning, because we use these kennels to make sure dogs are safe before they come into the shelter. Since they were constructed in 2015, they've saved nearly 10,000 dogs' lives. To not have them was a really big deal," she said.
Once again it was the AAA community that stepped in to make sure that lives were still saved. Over the past year since the kennels were lost, about 35 percent of the dogs handled by AAA went into foster care.
In the meantime, new kennels were built - and this time they were made from cinderblock and steel, expected to withstand winds up to 130 - 140 miles per hour.
"So many people in our community stepped up and helped us build these kennels. They were extremely expensive" because of increased prices related to COVID, but donations and actual labor came in to build them, she said.
(covid in creased prices)
"Acadiana Animal Aid exists to pull animals at risk of euthanasia in municipal shelters," Foucher explains. "We usually handle about 2,500 cats and dogs per year. Right now, this construction will be a game changer. Most of the municipal shelters in our area are under funded, and these animals are not getting veterinary care they need. This will help us ensure they are healthy before we introduce them to the main shelter."
If you'd like to help, you can donate but if that's not possible you can just lend a hand, Foucher says.
"None of this would be possible without our volunteers. They foster dogs, they come out and walk dogs. They actually assisted us with construction and demolishing the old kennels. They're the backbone of any non profit organizatio. We're always looking for volunteers," she says.
If you want to help, visit the website for more information.