Dogs lost in flooding fly to the West Coast for adoption

Meg Farris talks about dogs left homeless by floods, and the health obstacles they face .

NEW ORLEANS -- There was a huge influx of homeless dogs in the area after historic flooding hit South Louisiana in August.
But people who love animals are coming to the rescue of dogs that need forever homes.

Some of the dogs are from owners who lost their homes and can no longer keep their furry family member. Others were living in flood-damaged shelters, and more room was needed in nearby undamaged shelters.

"That's part of the silver lining in this, is that these dogs that were in shelters in rural parishes are now leaving those parishes to come to New Orleans to make room for flood dogs," Gene Goldring, co-founder of The Inner Pup of New Orleans, said.

Her group, along with several rescue groups and shelters around Southeast Louisiana, is organizing a mass exodus to save dozens of pets.

However, the volunteers who are making a difference have run into an obstacle: Heartworm disease. 

Nearly 80 percent of stray and shelter dogs around southeast Louisiana have the disease because Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes. 

RELATED: More than 100 animals at Lamar-Dixon Center have to find new homes

Goldring said the cost of treatment can be tough on shelters' budgets.

"We know of a rescue here that spends half a million dollars a year of medical costs on Heartworm treatment," Goldring said. 

One by one, dogs at the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter lined up Tuesday to get a blood test. Those without Heartworm get a golden ticket to off-leash lives out west where four cities are taking local dogs, but they are cautious about spreading Heartworm disease into those canine populations. 

The dogs who tested positive for Heartworm disease will stay in the local area, but for others, Wednesday is a big day.

The group Dog Is My Copilot, out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is taking care of the flight and all costs with a retired orthopedic surgeon in the cockpit, Dr. Peter Rork.

"They're barking when we load them, but as soon as that engine starts, they're going, 'What's going on here?', and they get very quiet, and they're typically quiet for the whole trip, but there's always one," Dr. Rork said. 

"After practicing medicine forever, I thought I'd get back to saving dogs."

Heartworm-positive dogs can be adopted and can make wonderful pets. Some shelters, like the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, will even pay for the treatment. 

Those interested in adoption can see many of those dogs Saturday, Sept. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Boomtown Casino during an adoption fair. The shelter will also be accepting donations and supplies for animals. 


(© 2016 WWL)


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