FLASh – Friends of Lafayette Animal Shelter

The 'goodwill ambassadors' for animals in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana

In early 2010, Patty Meehan, a long-time volunteer at Lafayette Animal Control Center (LACC) and the Louisiana Go Local team leader for the Best Friends Network, started FLASh - Friends of Lafayette Animal Shelter. Patty"s organization is a nonprofit group with the goal of bringing about a time of No More Homeless Pets in the Lafayette area, specifically focusing on the animals who enter the municipal shelter in Lafayette. They hope to help the shelter move forward by reducing intakes and increasing adoptions through events, fundraising, education and public awareness. FLASh now has 501(c)(3) status and in October 2010 became a Best Friends Network Charities organization.

The FLASh mission

The mission of FLASh is "to enhance the quality of life for the dogs, cats, birds and other companion animals in the care of Lafayette Animal Control Center (LACC) and other animal shelters and welfare agencies in the greater Lafayette area, to end euthanasia as the primary means of population control, and to reduce the number of homeless animals at LACC."

Their goals include providing community education regarding spaying and neutering, focusing on decreasing shelter admissions and increasing live release rates at the shelter, increasing the demand for homeless pets by holding and participating at local adoption events, creating an outreach program to inspire positive action on behalf of animals in the local communities and becoming the "goodwill ambassadors for animals" and the leading resource for integrating animal welfare initiatives in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.

Project Cat Nip

FLASh was one of the Network Charities that was awarded a $5,000 Grassroots Grant in 2010. The grant was used specifically to provide low-cost spay/neuter services for 200 community cats in Lafayette. Project Cat Nip launched on February 1, 2011 and concluded in late March with the neutering of "Lucky Boy Louie." SpayNation, a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Lafayette, handled all of the surgeries at a cost of $15 per cat. The $15 fee included the spay/neuter surgery, rabies vaccination and ear tipping.

Patty says she is still working on getting the specific numbers regarding the impact of this effort to report back to Best Friends and the number of colonies that were affected. However, she knows for a fact that altering 200 kitties prevented many litters from being born this spring. Programs like Project Cat Nip also helps change the negative attitude about community cats and demonstrates to the community that trap/neuter/return (TNR) can be done successfully.

Success story: Buck the arson dog

Patty recently received good news about Buck, a former resident of LACC. Buck is now officially a "working dog" - an arson dog with the official title of "accelerant detector."

According to Patty, "Buck went to Sharon L. Perry, Southern Star Ranch, which is not a rescue, but an organization that specifically takes dogs who show good potential to be service dogs, like drug sniffers, etc. We have sent several dogs to them, with awesome result. Buck had come into the shelter as a surrender - a big goofy 2-year-old lab, with a great heart and spirit. The vet there, Dr. Shelly Liles, immediately recognized that he was very ball-driven, something we keep an eye out for, for just this reason. We contacted Southern Star Ranch and told them about Buck. We sent them photos and videos of him, and they agreed, he would be a great service dog. A FLASh member, Anna Goodson, fostered Buck for a couple of weeks, till we could get transport set up. She fell in love with him, of course. Another FLASh member, Chris Goodland, drove Buck to meet Sharon in Houston. And the rest is history. He"s obviously done very well with his training and is now 'employed' and very happy."

Looking ahead

In reflecting on FLASh"s first year and the difference they have made in the community, Patty says, "I think we"ve just begun to show the community that everyone can be a part of the solution, and that we CAN achieve a day of No More Homeless Pets."

FLASh"s greatest need right now is new members. The organization is designed to give people the opportunity to help animals without necessarily having to (as Patty says) "scoop poop or get cat hair on you." Through paid memberships and donations, FLASh is able to help the hands-on rescues as well as individual animals directly, in addition to providing community education and awareness, spreading the word about responsible pet guardianship and adoption.

FLASh will be at The Dog Days of Summer on May 28 at Girard Park in Lafayette. The Dog Days of Summer is a fundraiser sponsored by Animal Rescue Foundation of Louisiana.

FLASh will be hosting Strut Your Mutt (a Best Friends sponsored event) in Lafayette on September 17. They are in the process of inviting the other local rescues to participate in this event.

FLASh is in the process of applying for a grant to fund heartworm treatment for adoptable dogs at LACC. The grant funds would be used to cover the cost of treatment for those dogs who are heartworm positive, thereby increasing their chances for adoption. The funds would be paid directly to participating vets. They are also working on applying for a grant that will cover the first vet visit for all dogs and cats adopted from LACC.

About Best Friends Network Charities

Best Friends Network Charities is a free program for 501(c)(3) rescue groups and shelters that are working towards a time of No More Homeless Pets. Program members are offered special opportunities including fundraising and adoption events, grants, workshops, webinars, resources, and volunteer recruitment through our database of animal lovers. To learn more and apply, click here.

Volunteer with a Network Charities group near you:

Want to help? Volunteer for a Network Charities in your community! Visit our Volunteer Center and click "Local Opportunities: Network Charities" located under "Outreach."

Photos courtesy of FLASh and Petfinder.com. Go to the LACC site on Petfinder if you are interested in adopting an animal from LACC.

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