LAFAYETTE, La. (IND) – On any given day, the staff at Acadiana Animal Aid (formerly Lafayette Animal Aid) cares for more than 100 dogs and cats at its shelter in Carencro, which is neatly folded away on a 10-acre compound hidden just from view off I-49. Acadiana Animal Aid is a no-kill cat and dog rescue and adoption organization that has been saving pets for the past 40 years, but lately it’s been working to rebrand itself from a shelter for the region’s wayward animals into an all-purpose animal rescue operation.
“We’ve been around for this long, and it doesn’t seem like we’ve made a difference,” says Melinda Falgout, president of the board of directors at Acadiana Animal Aid. “The numbers that [Animal Control] is euthanizing are still the same, 5,000 per year, just in Lafayette. If we measure our success based on the number of animals that [they’re] euthanizing, then we’re failing.”
To remedy this, the organization started to refocus its strategies in order to get to the root of the problem. It came up with several new initiatives to help lower the number of animals being euthanized in the region. The goal involves maximizing its no-kill philosophy by educating in local schools, expanding local and legal advocacy, opening pet food banks and even tying in with major rescue organizations across the country.
Its most successful and perhaps most overlooked initiative is its transportation program, where pets are transported out of the state in order to be adopted by welcoming homes or taken to other no-kill rescue shelters to help lighten the load of the shelter, which is almost always at capacity.
The organization started the transport program last year, helping to increase the number of animals it took in and saved from 385 in 2013 to 605 in 2014, says Falgout. “In the year-to-date, we have over 1,200 lives saved. The transport program has added so many that we are able to pull in and take in and send out. We pull from 20 different no-kill shelters from around the state.”
Given the obvious success of the transportation program, it has also become the organization’s main fundraising recipient. In addition to its ongoing donations, Acadiana Animal Aid hosts several fundraising events like Bark in the Park, which will be held this year on Sunday, Nov. 8, from noon to 5 p.m. at Girard Park. It also accepts general donations year round though its website, LafayetteAnimalAid.org, which includes its Guardian Angel program where patrons can sign up to have automatic donations made each month in fixed amounts.
“It costs $60 to save one animal,” adds Falgout. “And if people would just look at it that way and really donate toward the transport program we could make a lot bigger difference.”
[This article originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of The Independent and on TheIND.com.]