‘Nothing less than a miracle’: Supporters step up to make sure shelter dogs are out of cold

Published 11:13 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

FERRIDAY, La. — Dianne Watson can’t talk about the events of the last several days at Concordia PAWS Shelter without getting choked up.

“It’s nothing less than a miracle,” she said.

Sandra Lofton agreed to foster 14-year-old Rooster. She is now a foster failure. Lofton is adopting Rooster.

Watson, Lydia Wilson, Carole Webber and a handful of other retired women voluntarily founded the shelter in 2015 after being tired of seeing unwanted, abused and neglected animals in Ferriday and Concordia Parish.

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In its first week in 2015, Concordia PAWS took in 47 dogs after Concordia Parish law enforcement broke up a dogfighting ring.

Since that time, through literal blood, sweat and tears, the volunteers have pieced together a shelter and provided love, safety and care for thousands of unwanted and abused Concordia Parish dogs.

And they have done so with lots of help from residents, area businesses and Concordia Parish Sheriff David Hedrick and his office, who have answered the call every time the shelter has asked for anything, Watson said.

Last week, the ladies became concerned about the welfare of the approximately 72 dogs currently in the shelter’s care because of the cold and icy weather forecasts they were hearing.

“On our Facebook page, we made a post asking for adoptions. We were concerned about the weather coming and knew these dogs would need a home and asked people to adopt,” Watson said.

That request got little traction.

“In a follow up post, we asked people to foster the dogs, too, and boom! And this wasn’t just overnight stays. The dogs are there for the duration because of how cold the weather is going to be in the next week,” Watson said.

Five families have stepped up and are fostering 15 dogs in their homes for the duration of the cold weather.

Concordia PAWS’ oldest dog, a 14-year-old pointer named Rooster who has been at the shelter for about three years, went home with Sandra Lofton.

“She has already called us to tell us he won’t be coming back. She is adopting him,” Webber said.

Skeeter and Chris Hutchins are fostering Raymond, who is fondly known as Concordia PAWS’ CEO. The Hutchins’ dog, Willie Dawg, is a bit jealous, Skeeter said.

Sharrlee McLemore brought home Blu Girl, who is being pampered in her home and playing with their dog, Piper.

Vickie Stowers agreed to foster two dogs, but after visiting the shelter, she took home four — Deju, Trixie, Trina and Gio.

Rhonda Havard left with seven dogs — Lady and Cane, Clyde and Harley, Kai and Gigi and Al.

“They are sweethearts,” Havard said. “My permanent rescues, Boog and Sushi have welcomed them with open paws!”

Seven or eight dogs are being cared for at Blunschi Boarding Kennel in Ferriday.

“They are a very successful kennel and are very caring people. People board their dogs there when they go out of town. It’s a gorgeous place. The dogs are in heaven up there,” Watson said.

As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Concordia PAWS volunteers had found a place for all of its dogs, which typically stay outside.

“We just got the last two dogs that are outside placed,” Webber said. “They are going to Blunschi’s Kennels. Blunschi’s is going to make room for them and a couple from here are going to finance the dogs’ stay there.”

She said the two dogs who were the last outside are sisters and are very skittish and shy and would not have fared well in a home setting.

“We got them bundled up last night, but tonight they will be inside. We now have every dog inside,” Webber said. “The rest of the 72 dogs are stuffed inside the buildings we have. There is not one inch where there is not a dog. We have to be very careful opening doors.

“This has been one of the most wonderful things. We know we have supporters, but all we had to do was ask and people stepped up, not even caring how long the dogs would need to be there,” she said. “It’s heart warming and humbling.”

“It chokes me up. We know we are not alone in the work we do. These things happen and all we have to do is ask,” Watson said.

They said the generosity of supporters is nothing new.

“This isn’t isolated. Look what happened at Christmas,” she said.

At Christmas, Concordia PAWS asked its supporters to adopt one of the dogs and provide it with treats, food and other needs.

“We took photos of our dogs and asked them to choose one to adopt for Christmas gifts. Every single one of them was adopted and showered with gifts or donations. All of this stuff arrived at the shelter! It was something else,” Watson said. “Some people sent a check with the name of a dog on it and we went and got things for it. Once, we had a water shortage in Ferriday and put the word out that we were having problems getting water. You wouldn’t believe what arrived! Truckloads of these huge five-gallon jugs of water.

“We are so humbled by the support. We just have to ask and stuff arrives. The support is amazing for a small shelter like ours,” she said.