Local Animal Shelter Reaches Consistent “No-Kill” Status During COVID-19

Claire Lyon and Nicole Mistretta

@clairelyon_

@MistrettaNicole

Feature Photo: A look inside of Lafayette Animal Shelter & Care Center’s adoption room on Oct. 14, 2020. Photo by Nicole Mistretta.

While Lafayette businesses continue to face wavering restrictions during COVID-19, a local animal shelter reaches a consistent, total “no-kill” status.

The Lafayette Animal Shelter & Care Center (LASCC) witnessed its highest “live outcome” percentage for animals during the pandemic.

To be “no-kill,” a shelter must be above 90% “live outcome,” according to Lynn Bourque, the adoption rescue and foster supervisor for the shelter. “Live outcome” refers to the number of animals leaving a facility by means other than euthanasia or in-shelter death, according to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. 

In response to state restrictions and a mandated lockdown back in March, Bourque said the shelter expected an increase in surrendered animals during their temporary closure.

“We expected a lot of pets to be surrendered due to the fear of the possible exposure of COVID from pets to humans, but the total opposite occurred. We had a few [pets surrendered to the shelter], but the adoption numbers, that is the greatest thing that changed,” Bourque said.

Animals are surrendered, or given to shelters, when their owners cannot continue to provide care to the animal for any financial, behavioral or other reason, according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, citizens in Acadiana rallied behind the shelter and provided care to the animals through adoptions or foster services, according to Bourque. The increase in animals leaving the facility led to a live outcome of over 90%, allowing the shelter to obtain a “no-kill” status. Bourque said as long as the shelter can maintain numbers over 90%, only sick and injured animals will be euthanized.

When live outcome percentages dropped, according to the shelter’s Facebook page, it was due to two factors: “no-kill” promotions bring in more surrendered animals, and a higher rate of animals entering the shelter in spring due to breeding patterns.

When live outcome percentages dropped, according to the shelter’s Facebook page, it was due to two factors: “no-kill” promotions bring in more surrendered animals, and a higher rate of animals entering the shelter in spring due to breeding patterns.

In 2015, the shelter had a live outcome percentage of 28%, according to the Facebook page. Bourque said she considers the 5-year jump to be an achievement for a government-operated shelter, which must accept all cats and dogs surrendered to it.

“I guess people were home and found it was a good time to help a pet. Those who wanted to adopt figured they would be home for the next few weeks. It was the perfect time for them to do so,” Bourque said.

Bourque also said the shelter’s staff were amazed by the community’s response and participation in the foster program.

Jenny Meadows, a part-time adoption and foster worker at LASCC, said the shelter provides all food, medicine, and other supplies necessary for fostering an animal. People who foster pets are allowed to adopt the animal and make it an official part of the family.

“It’s kind of our goal, wanting to make sure [the home] is a good fit [for the animal],” Meadows said.

Adopted pets from the shelter are spayed, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and medicated if necessary, according to Meadows. Bourque said she wants people to avoid surrendering pets by giving the community ideas on how to rehome a pet or find a solution for the pet to stay in their home.

“Bringing a pet to a shelter should be a last resort,” Bourque said, “The less animals that are brought in, the less animals we have to find homes for.”

To maintain a “no-kill” status, LASCC plans to open a new shelter in April 2021, according to Bourque.

“[The new shelter] will help us reach out to more people. No one wants to come to a kill shelter. No one wants to come to an old shelter, seeing pets in cages,” Bourque said.

She said the new shelter will provide a more spacious and less stressful environment to the animals.

“Lafayette is in for something good and the animals are in for something great,” Bourque said.

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