Four local women have taken their shared passions for volunteering and animals and parlayed it into a new mission – Turning Rescues Into Pets.
St. Charles Parish residents Dani Hardy, Vicki Johnson-Cain, Candice Lafourcade and Heather Hernandez formed TRIP last November as a non-profit with a mission to help homeless animals get the medical supplies and third party surgeries they need to get healthy and adoptable.
“The founding members of TRIP came together with a common passion to roll up our sleeves and help,” Johnson-Cain, who serves as TRIP’s vice president, said. “Our purpose is to rally behind our local shelters by fundraising, volunteering and spreading awareness.”
The four friends, who met through volunteering at the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter, huddled at a coffee shop for three hours last year hashing out the needs of the pet community in St. Charles Parish. TRIP was founded as a non-profit after that meeting.
TRIPS’s main goals are remove animals from homeless situations and shelters, providing medical care, placing animals in secure adoptive homes, providing affordable vaccine and spay/neuter services and providing resources for stray and feral cats.
“Love and safety … that’s the goal,” Hernandez, TRIP’s secretary, said. “But it doesn’t usually start there, and that is why TRIP is so special to me. We’re somewhere in the middle. Animals need our help, and any gesture – small or large – adds up to a positive difference in their lives.”
Heather said TRIP helps provide the extra care to turn an animal into a happy and healthy family member.
“The shelter environment can be hard, so whether it’s animal enrichment, medical supplies or procedures or transport, anything we can do to improve or shorten the shelter stay makes for a happier pet,” Lafourcade, TRIP’s treasurer, said.
Hardy, who serves as TRIP’s president, said after the group was formed in November it took months to receive all of the proper tax-exempt statuses and get all of the paper work in place to become a 501(c)(3) organization.
“Then COVID happened, and we haven’t been able to have a fundraiser,” Hardy said. “We’re excited about what we can do, but COVID has just not made anything easy. It’s us held back, but also given us time to learn.”
The group has relied on T-shirt selling campaigns and donations to fund projects during their first year. Hardy said a local Eagle Scout also designated TRIP as the beneficiary of their Eagle Scout project.
“We looking at doing a virtual walk/run, virtual silent suction and some like/share giveaways until things get somewhat back to normal to hold any live events involving the community,” Johnson-Cain said.
Hardy said TRIP has partnered with other parish shelters, as well as organizations such as Mardi Paws and Wings of Rescue, to learn more and facilitate more help for animals.
“St. Charles Parish has just been an amazing … there’s so many pet lovers here and every time we put out a need there are so many people who step up to help … it’s so humbling,” Hardy said. “We’ve been able to go above and beyond. Any time the shelter needs something, we’ve been able to fundraise.”
Johnson-Cain said TRIP’s founders, all of whom work other full-time jobs, are active and dedicated volunteers who spend hours at the shelter walking, bathing and helping to socialize the animals to help get them adopted.
“Slowly but surely were making a difference,” Hardy said. “We’re definitely going to try. We just want to help the pets.”
To learn more about TRIP or to donate time or money, visit TRIP’s Facebook page or www.rescuestopets.com.