St. Landry animal shelter thriving, with a little help from some ‘friends’

More animals are finding permanent homes and receiving better care at the St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter with the help of a new animal rescue organization, Friends Underwriting Rescues.

“There is a terrible problem in this area with pet overpopulation,” said Jeanie Casanova, a registered nurse from Opelousas who said she founded FUR in November after visiting the shelter to adopt a kitten.

In the past few months, the group has been spreading the word about the benefits of spaying and neutering pets, and has been encouraging families to adopt pets from the shelter rather than purchasing them from breeders.

“We recently broke the shelter’s record for adoptions in one day with 12 adoptions,” Casanova said.

About 50 animals have been adopted since the organization began in November, said St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter Director Patricia Street.

“The euthanasia rate went way down,” she said. “FUR has helped us get animals adopted so other animals can come in.”

Casanova’s daughter, Erin Couvillion, helped create a website and Facebook page, where FUR volunteers post pictures and short descriptions of the animals up for adoption.

Volunteers also help out at the shelter by cleaning kennels, brushing the animals, taking larger dogs for walks and showing the animals a little love, Casanova said.

“We are always recruiting volunteers,” she said. “It’s something everyone can do, even if it’s just fostering an animal.”

FUR’s long-term plan is to transition the shelter to a “no-kill” status, meaning no adoptable animals will be euthanized.

“Other shelters are doing it,” Casanova said. “I think it’s possible. It takes a lot of community support.”

The St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter houses cats, dogs, horses and donkeys and is located at 255 Hanger Road in Opelousas.

Those interested in adopting must first pay an $8 fee at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse before visiting the shelter and choosing a pet.

Donations to FUR are accepted through the group’s website, friendsunderwritingrescues.org, and supplies can be donated directly to the shelter.

“We could always use more collars, cat brushes and dog brushes, small blankets and people to wash blankets,” Casanova said.