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Louisiana flooding brings pets to Chicago in search for new homes

PAWS Chicago volunteers unload Louisiana shelter pets after their 16-hour journey to Chicago. | Alena Nicholson/Courtesy of PAWS Chicago

The historic flooding in Louisiana displaced thousands — pets included.

Other shelters in that state moved animals to the roof to protect them from rising flood waters, said Stacy Price, director of animal operations for the no-kill shelter PAWS Chicago. Other shelters were forced to close.

And in the aftermath of the floods, shelters struggled to house both the animals they already had while also taking in newly displaced pets, said Sarah McDonald, spokeswoman for PAWS Chicago.

So PAWS worked with St. Tammany Humane Society in Covington, La. to bring some of the shelter animals to Chicago, McDonald said. The strays housed up here eventually will be available for adoption; moving them to Illinois provides shelter space in Louisiana to take in the newly found animals that still can be reunited with their owners.

Mavis the kitten was brought to a Chicago shelter after the flooding in Louisiana. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times

Mavis the kitten was brought to a Chicago shelter after the flooding in Louisiana. | Natalie Watts/Sun-Times

By the time Price arrived in Louisiana on Wednesday, she said, floodwaters had dissipated.

“You could see the flood line on the trees and the buildings,” she said. “It was up to my hip.”

Volunteers drove two vans to Louisiana and picked up 26 animals — 17 cats, nine dogs. The drive back to Chicago took 16 hours, Price said.

The animals arrived at the PAWS Chicago medical center, 3516 W. 26th Street, at 4 a.m. Friday, McDonald said.

“We named them,” McDonald said, adding that they chose Louisiana-themed monikers, like Magnolia, which is the Louisiana state flower.

“They’re under a bit of shell-shock,” Price said. “But I’m probably more stressed than they are.”

She said the pets, who are from a more rural area, are adjusting well to city noises.

Most of the dogs from Louisiana have heartworm, Price said, which will require a 90-day treatment. During that time, the dogs will live in foster homes, to minimize stress.

Dogs and cats cleared by medical staff will be moved to PAWS Chicago’s Lincoln Park or North Shore locations, McDonald said.

The shelter is considering making another trip to Louisiana to pick up more animals. PAWS is a no-kill shelter, whereas in Louisiana the shelter animals could be euthanized after 45 days.

PAWS Chicago volunteers loaded Louisiana shelter pets into vans for their 16-hour journey to Chicago. | Steve Lotho/Courtesy of PAWS Chicago

PAWS Chicago volunteers loaded Louisiana shelter pets into vans for their 16-hour journey to Chicago. | Steve Lotho/Courtesy of PAWS Chicago