Protecting our pets: International animal welfare nonprofit comes to help pets in Ida’s wake | The Latest | Gambit Weekly

Only wicked pet

When the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry saw Ida was coming, they knew local animal shelters would need some extra help rescuing and feeding pups, cats, rabbits, pigs — and yes, even a miniature pony here and there. So they hit up Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit International Fund for Animal […]

When the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry saw Ida was coming, they knew local animal shelters would need some extra help rescuing and feeding pups, cats, rabbits, pigs — and yes, even a miniature pony here and there.

So they hit up Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit International Fund for Animal Welfare in advance to get additional boots on the ground.

Around a dozen people came to Louisiana from IFAW, and they teamed up with other organizations like local animal shelters, the ASPCA and animal disaster response group Code Three to form four teams of four who drove to some of the hardest hit areas in the state — Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes.

The teams drove around looking for animals and assessing their needs. If the animals were in bad shape, IFAW volunteers would take them to receive medical care and rehabilitate them. If they were OK, they would feed them and put up signage so other team members could return and continue feeding them. Sometimes, the work involved setting up makeshift temporary shelters for animals or prepping local shelters to take in lost and abandoned pets.

Among the IFAW members were D.C. vet tech and house DJ Freddy Williams, who helped with recovery and rescue in Terrebonne Parish, including Houma and the tiny towns of Dulac and Montegut, as well as the assessment of the situations in Bayou Dularge, Bayou Petit Caillou and Theriot.

“It’s as far south as the Gulf goes basically,” Williams says. “I mean, we’re talking like maybe 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.”

For eight days straight, the team would wake up for a 6 a.m. briefing. Then, they’d pack up their gear and food and head to the day’s meeting point, usually a shelter in Jefferson Parish, where they’d get additional equipment and then drive to their assigned location and begin their work.

“Our efforts are to kind of get things in order … so that the shelters know exactly how much staff they’re going to need or how many volunteers they need to call in order to do that feeding in place or to help pick up strays,” he says.






freddy williams, IFAW

Freddy Williams holds pet food during IFAW’s Hurricane Ida relief efforts.




Spending time in these smaller towns devastated by the storm weighed heavily on him, Williams says.

“It’s sad because in certain areas, I think there are some people that didn’t have a lot to begin with,” he says. “This is complete devastation, just down to the foundation or the driveway even, just the concrete … [Ida’s] course was kind of breathtaking to see the power that this wind had on property there.”

But through it all, he was floored by the generosity of the community, which in typical Louisiana fashion was quick to offer their team home-cooked meals.

“The spirit of the community down there is just amazing,” Williams says. “The volunteers that were at the shelter — some of them have lost their homes or homes are damaged — were cooking for us. They were offering us things, and they have nothing right now.”

And it wasn’t just food. The communities also rallied together to fill local gyms and civic centers “wall to wall” with necessities, according to Williams.

“When you walk into an auditorium in a town that has been turned upside down and you see the vast amount of things that they’re able to collect for people in need, that will stick with me the most,” he says. “It’s just people pulling together.”

When the lights went out after Ida, the heart of New Orleans shone bright

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