Holiday pet adoption helps owner cope with cancer

Michelle Stuckey
December 03, 2010 at 9:16 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

When the holiday season rolled around last year, something was missing in Renee Simoneaux’s life. After going through a bitter divorce, and finally finding her prince charming and settling down, she still felt like she needed something more in her life.

That’s when she found Athena, a 2-year-old brindle-colored dog with a basset hound’s body.

“Having been through all that was just really hard and then she came and she just made everything good,” Simoneaux said. “Everything’s gotten better since I adopted her.”

Simoneaux was instantly drawn to Athena’s cute picture and went straight to the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter to meet her. After being with Athena for less than an hour, Simoneaux knew she had found what was missing in her life.
Now Athena lives the life of a happy house dog.

“She is full of love. She knows she was adopted and she’s happy,” Simoneaux said. “She’s a momma’s girl.”

Shortly after adopting Athena, Simoneaux underwent surgery for early stage breast cancer. She said that Athena was a blessing during her recovery.

“She was my buddy and kept me company,” she said.

Simoneaux adopted Athena just in time for the holidays in 2009 and said it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

“When you adopt a pet, you literally are saving its life and somehow they know it and it just makes you feel good,” she said. “It’s the best Christmas present you can give the animal and the family. They’re just such a wonderful addition to the family.”

The St. Charles Animal Shelter has more than 100 furry friends up for adoption right now.

But for those families who are not quite ready to make a life-long commitment to a new pet, consider fostering one.
Animal Control Director Angie Robert said that fostering gives cats and dogs a new chance at life.

“Kittens and puppies need foster homes because they really need to get out of the shelter because they’re susceptible to every disease that’s walking in and out of here,” Robert said. “If they can get fostered until we vaccinate them and spay or neuter them, it keeps them from ever being exposed to disease.”

Robert said another benefit to fostering is that it allows the shelter to find out how adult dogs do in a home environment.

“These adult animals come in and we have no history on them…we don’t know if they’re energetic, a couch potato or what,” Robert said. “When you foster an adult for a couple of weeks, we get all of those answers and we’re able to place that dog with the right family.

“It ups their adoption chances and helps us make sure that we put them in the right home and they stay in that home forever.”

Robert said that fostering puppies or kittens that are younger than 12 weeks old can turn a feral animal into a loving pet.

“We get a lot of ferals in…they’re just little hiss buckets,” she said. “It really only takes a couple of days, maybe a week at most…to touch them and pet them and let them gain trust.

“The minute they gain trust, you’ve got a kitten that’s purring in your lap.”

Fostering a pet is free and all that is required is filling out some paperwork. The shelter provides foster families with some food, gets the animals up-to-date on vaccinations and has the family bring the pet in for regular check-ups.

Foster care only lasts until the animal is socialized, which can take as little as a few days or as long as a year or two, depending on how long the foster parent wants to put in to the program.

For adoption or fostering information, call the shelter at (985)783-5010. The shelter’s hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is located under the Luling Bridge in Luling.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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