FERRIDAY, La. — Members of the Concordia PAWS nonprofit animal shelter in Ferriday appealed this week to the Concordia Parish Police Jury for financial assistance.
Donna Jones, who spoke on behalf of Concordia PAWS at the meeting, told the police jury that after the March expenses are paid, PAWS funds will largely be exhausted.
Concordia PAWS was started in 2015 by a group of retired Concordia Parish women who were tired of seeing nothing for the plight of unwanted, abused and neglected animals in the town of Ferriday and Concordia Parish. In its first week of operation, Concordia PAWS took in 47 dogs after Concordia Parish law enforcement busted a dogfighting ring.
The PAWS shelter operates solely through private donations, Jones said, with the help of some Concordia Parish Jail inmates, thanks to Concordia Parish Sheriff David Hedrick.
She said the shelter’s founders, including Dianne Watson, Lydia Wilson and Carole Webber, still work at the shelter almost every day.
“These ladies were bitten and fell and hurt in some way,” she said. “These ladies are over 70 years old. They can’t keep doing this alone. We need help from the parish to run the shelter.
Finding volunteers is getting harder and harder, Jones said.
“We’ve had a great group of volunteers over the years, but it’s dwindling. We also need more volunteer help.
The number of private donors who have supported Concordia PAWS over the years shows that the people of Concordia Parish want these animals cared for.
“We have some really good donors who have given us a good amount of money over time. Without these people, I don’t know what we would do. We’ve kind of struggled all this time,” Jones said. “This parish wants us to care for these dogs. Their hearts go out to these creatures. God wants us to love all creatures…We can’t save the world, but we can save these dogs. We can make a difference in their life.
Over the past four years, PAWS has fostered over 200 adult dogs and over 700 puppies. After being brought back healthy, over 100 adults and 150 puppies were adopted locally. More than 100 adults and 600 puppies were transported “north”, Jones said, where they are wanted. She said strict neutering and neutering laws in the north of the country had helped reduce the population of unwanted animals.
Concordia PAWS has partnered with Hoofbeats and Pawprints, an animal transport group. However, it costs $1,000 per month and $150 per dog for heartworm treatment.
Our connection with Hoofbeats and Pawprints… I don’t know what we would do without it. They have their own van. They organize places in the north to take these dogs and have them adopted,” she said. “It saved us. If we didn’t get these dogs out of this parish, we would be just as overwhelmed as when we started.
Jones said utility bills continue to climb each month and large vet bills are due due to an outbreak of pneumonia, coccidia and parvo. She said the current shelter has no space to quarantine sick dogs.
“Donations are no longer enough to cover our bills,” she said.
Concordia PAWS asked the police jury to:
• Form a committee to address animal control issues in Concordia Parish. The group suggested two members of the police jury and two members of PAWS for the committee to develop a plan for the future.
• Approve immediate assistance for PAWS to prevent the closure of the parish’s only pet store.
• Reimburse PAWS for the existing PAWS employee and add another so that the shelter can be staffed seven days a week.
• Set an “emergency” monthly repayment amount to keep the shelter running while a long-term plan is developed.
Police jury chairman Collin Edwards asked Jones to provide the police jury with a list of all current monthly expenses, as well as other debts, such as vet bills. He said the police jury would reconsider the claim at its next meeting.