Ascension animal shelter reopens to public, after relying on drive-thru adoptions during closure – The Advocate

The animal shelter in Ascension Parish reopened to the public last week, but pet adoptions never stopped in the two months it was closed, thanks to a drive-thru adoption program and the pet owners who met their new furry friend for the first time when they drove up to the shelter to bring their new dog or cat home.

"During this time, there's been a lot of support for shelters," said Reagan Daniel, president of the board of the shelter, CARA's House. "It's been a very heartening experience."

The shelter reopened May 26 on an appointment basis, limiting visitors at those 30-minute appointments to parties of two.

Those interested in adopting or fostering a cat or dog can learn more about the process by visiting CARA's House Facebook page.

The new setup follows weeks of a temporary, drive-thru adoption system that CARA's House created in the early days of Gov. John Bel Edwards' stay-at-home mandate in mid-March, with the application and approval process for pet owners all done online beforehand.

It has worked.

From mid-March through April, 64 cats and dogs were adopted from CARA's House, a number not far behind the 73 adoptions made during the same time period last year, when the shelter was fully staffed and folks could just walk through the door looking for a new pet.

They often had a particular animal in mind CARA'S House has always used social media to advocate for its animals, posting pictures of cats and dogs available for adoption on Facebook and Instagram.

But in the days when the shelter was closed to potential pet owners, it was vital.

"Social media was the only out for these animals," Daniel said.

In some ways, the unusual, stay-at-home conditions imposed during the pandemic, may have helped with pet adoptions, she said.

"I think, since people are spending more time at home, it allows them to bring in a new animal and let it get acclimated" with even more attention, she said.

The shelter houses 3,600 cats and dogs.

The drive-thru process was first put in place for foster volunteers, driven by the need to get as many animals as possible into foster homes, while the shelter's staff was temporarily reduced when the shelter closed to the public on March 17, Daniel said.

"People stepped up to foster; some of those ended up adopting," Daniel said.

Among those are Shawn Comeaux of St. Amant. She and her two sons, who already have two dogs and several cats, have fostered kittens from CARAs House for two years.

Her family likes dogs, she said, but dogs are a lot of work to foster, if you work full-time.

But these days, Comeaux, like many others, is working from home.

When she heard about CARAs House call for fosters, she told them, Find me a dog that gets along with kids, kittens and other dogs and I can take one.

The friendly, gray pit-bull mix, named Star, they fostered, was right at home from the beginning, greeting everyone and using the doggie door right off, Comeaux said.

A few weeks ago, Comeauxs boyfriend adopted Star and gave her a new name, Reece.

We go everywhere with her, hike with her, Comeaux said. Shes spoiled.

About two weeks after starting its foster care drive-thru service, CARAs House began offering its drive-thru system for adoptions.

The process started when someone inquired about a particular cat or dog they'd seen on the CARAs House Facebook page, then applied online.

From there, the application, approval and adoption fee payment were handled online and an appointment time was scheduled for folks to come to the CARAs House parking lot, at 9894 Airline Highway, to greet and take home their new pet.

Kyle and Shelly Rogers adopted their new dog Maybelline, nicknamed May, from Caras House that way.

The Rogers' five children already had a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Red and were ready to bring a new dog into the family, Kyle said.

When he saw a picture of Maybelline, a 2-year-old black-and-tan hound on CARAs House Facebook, she was it, he said.

Rogers, who is general manager of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Ascension Parish, said he came to know CARA's House well, when many of the shelter's animals were temporarily housed at Lamar-Dixon after the 2016 flood.

More than six weeks after historic flooding displaced the Ascension Parish animal shelter in Sorrento, Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension vo

I know what great work CARAs House does, Rogers said. I have so much respect for the job they do.

In her new home, May "always has a kid to snuggle with and she and Red are best friends, he said. "She fits right in."

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Ascension animal shelter reopens to public, after relying on drive-thru adoptions during closure - The Advocate

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