Emergency animal shelter closes today

Published 11:55 pm Thursday, May 26, 2011

NATCHEZ — After spending more than two weeks volunteering their services for dogs and cats belonging to Miss-Lou flood fleers, volunteers from all over the country working at an emergency animal shelter on Wall Street will hang up their leashes today.

An emergency animal shelter at the former Waste Management facility will stay up and running on a small scale under the operation of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society for another week or so until the last 20 pets are picked up by their owners.

But owners reunited with 87 pets staying at the temporary shelter Thursday.

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Volunteer Jackie Beckstead said approximately 30 dogs and cats at the shelter, who were either rescued as strays or those whose owners decided they could no longer take care of them, were driven to Maryland Thursday.

Beckstead, a member of the Humane Society of the United States animal cruelty and rescue response team, said the strays and animals released to USHS by their owners will be distributed among six shelters across the county, all with plenty of room for more animals.

Although floodwaters appear to be holding safely on the riverside of the levees in Concordia Parish, Ferriday resident Carolyn Boykin said that being able to leave her eight bull terriers at the shelter while she prepared for the possible flooding was “God-sent.”

“I’m 67-years-old. For me to try to get them out by myself; I couldn’t have gotten them out,” Boykin said.

Boykin said the risk of flooding at its height caused her to spend two nights in a travel trailer in Natchez, and the freedom from worrying about her dogs during her preparations was a huge relief.

“It was a tremendous help to me,” she said.

Boykin said the volunteers have done a great job taking care of the pet evacuees while their owners were preparing for the worst.

Beckstead said volunteers may have in fact spoiled some of the pets staying at the shelter with attention, but she knows they will be glad to get back home with their families.

“Trust me when I tell you I would’ve never left my dogs,” Boykin said. “They’re my children.

Beckstead estimated the shelter, which operated at no cost to Adams County, housed at one time as much as 100 dogs and cats.

The Natchez-Adams County Humane Society will keep all of leashes, crates, food and other supplies provided by PetsMart Charities after the emergency shelter closes.