Spring is in the air at the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter and more and more baby animals are rolling in.
Animal Control Director Angie Robert said that the shelter is already full of more than 100 animals, and more pregnant cats and dogs are being delivered every week now that spring weather has set in.
“The old saying ‘Spring is in the air’ is actually quite true for animals,” Robert said. “This time of year is when all the babies are coming in – this is why it’s so important to spay and neuter your pets. These babies add up so quickly.”
Just last week, Robert said the shelter received three litters of kittens and that the number of animals at the shelter is expected to multiply quickly once the pregnant shelter cats give birth.
Because of the high number of kittens and puppies expected in the shelter, Robert said that now is a great time to start fostering the baby animals.
“If we can get them fostered and keep them healthy…it’s just so much better for the animal,” she said. “They don’t talk, but if they could they would tell you that they don’t want to be in an animal shelter – they want to be in a home.”
Robert said that fostering gives cats and dogs a new chance at life and can keep them from ever being exposed to disease. Fostering puppies or kittens that are younger than 12 weeks old can also 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 the only requirement is 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 much time the foster parent wants to put in to the program.
Luckily for the animals that will have to stay in the shelter, construction should start on a new facility within the coming year.
The shelter has seen an increase in rescued animals over the past two years since an animal cruelty class was taught during the police department’s training academy in 2009.
The new 13,000-square-foot shelter went out for bids earlier this month. Robert said she hopes the shelter will be ready to use by the end of the year.
The shelter will be located at 921 Rue LaCannes in Luling.
For those who already have pets at home, the parish Animal Control and Humane Society will be hosting an event this weekend to make sure pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
The Annual Rabies Run will take place at both the East Bank and West Bank Bridge Parks from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 3. The event offers $10 rabies shots, which are not only required by law but also important to keep the spread of the disease low.
“The rabies shot is really important because it’s illegal not to have it for cats and dogs,” Robert said. “Here in the U.S., we don’t have a lot of rabies cases and that is because of the national law. The scariest thing about rabies is that if you don’t know you have it and you show a symptom for it, it is too late. Game over. There is no treatment and you pass away.”
Pet owners can also have their pets microchipped.
“If your animal gets lost or stolen and somehow gets to an animal shelter, with the microchip we can get it back home in seconds, as opposed to days or not at all,” Robert said. “One of the most important reasons we have to do it in the Gulf South is because of hurricanes. If you evacuate and your animal gets lost in another state, how are you going to find it?
“Personally, my animal actually opened the door himself and walked out of the hotel room when I was evacuated one time.”
Everyone who gets their pet vaccinated or microchipped at the event will also be eligible to receive a free bag of pet food that day. The food will be distributed at the old Winn Dixie building on Paul Maillard Road in Luling.