Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oil spill hardships forcing owners to give away pets

by Bigad Shaban / Eyewitness News

Posted on June 9, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Updated today at 12:07 PM

BELLE CHASSE, La. -- The trickle-down effect of the oil spill can now be felt inside animal shelters along coastal parishes. Unemployed fisherman are struggling to support both their families and their pets, leaving many with no choice but to try and give away their animals.

Inside the back room of the Plaquemines Parish Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.) shelter, you can hear a whimpering from Dexter. The puppy is one of more than 40 dogs caged inside the facility. While none have a drop of oil on them, they are still very much suffering because of it.

Their rescue shelter is packed, every cage filled. And the waiting list for people trying to drop off their pets here is now 20 percent longer than normal

The reason, according to shelter director Jacob Stroman, has everything to with the growing mess in the Gulf.

Out-of-work fisherman, Stroman said, are finding it harder to care for their families and their pets and are now reluctantly choosing to give up their animals to safe havens like his.

"We want to help as much as we can," said Stroman. "And brace our self for the future because it's probably only going to get worse."

Just a few miles to the south rests Myrtle Grove Marina. The once busy fishing hub is now a staging area for BP. Fencing lines the compound, and boom waits to be deployed. The fisherman paid to do it say BP won't them talk to reporters.

But Charles Ballay said he knows their fear and frustration. He's the co-owner of the marina and the parish's district attorney.

"They are worried about when their next paycheck is going to come," said Ballay. "I'm sure animals might be something I guess they feel they might have to depart with, because they have to make choices, some tough choices."

Such choices are now putting more pressure on out-of-work fisherman and already packed animal shelters.

"As soon as one animal is adopted out, you take in another," said Stroman.

The need for new pet owners is real and growing as struggling fisherman reluctantly sit on a waiting list to give up what is theirs. Once man's best friend, is now seen as a financial burden.

If you would like adopt an animal from the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society or to find out how to donate food or supplies to the shelter, please contact:

Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.)
9596 Hwy 23
Belle Chasse, Louisiana
Hours: 1 5 P.M.
(504) 392-1601
In an effort to keep animals with their original owners, both Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes will soon be giving away free supplies of pet food.
Plaquemines Parish
Pointe Celeste Therapeutic Riding Center
21178 Highway 23
Port Sulphur, Louisiana 70083
Saturday, June 12
10 a.m. - 2 p.m
Coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States
St. Bernard Parish
115 West Agriculture Road
Beginning June 15, each Tuesday and Thursday
8 a.m. - 10 a.m.
Chalmette, Louisiana
Coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States
The free pet food giveaways will only last until supplies run out.

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