“As a child I was always an animal lover,” recalls Caitlin. “That’s why when I graduated from high school I got involved with the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society (Winnfield, LA) and have been volunteering with them ever since,” she adds.
Caitlin now serves as the vice president of the non-profit and is living out her passion to help animals every day. “The animals can’t speak for themselves, so we have to speak for them,” she says. In 2016, Caitlin, her son Slade, and the other volunteers with the organization found homes for 1,390 cats and dogs and their goal for 2017 is to help 2,000 animals. “We travel around the area to adoption events to find homes for these animals. Twice a month we transport animals from Louisiana to Michigan and Pennsylvania searching for their forever homes,” she says.
Many of the animals that Caitlin and the other volunteers at the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society help are either strays or animals that are being held in a kill shelter. “When an animal comes to us, we don’t know where it came from or its history, but we know we have to take care of it. We have seen everything from parvo to heartworm. The animal is checked over by a vet, vaccinated and altered. But all of this is very expensive and we run solely on donations and adoption fees. Our vets are 40 to 50 miles away so the travel expenses and vet bills add up,” she says.
But despite the financial stress, the volunteers at the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society continues to do what they can to help these animals. “It’s very rewarding. Each time I help an animal find a new home, I’m very happy, but not just for that animal. I know that for each pet we unite with a family, that means we now have room to save one more,” she says.
Without a building to call home, the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society relies on foster parents to give these animals shelter. When asked what her biggest challenge is when it comes to operating her shelter, Caitlin says it’s education. “Educating our community on the importance of spay/neuter. Making people aware of our need of foster homes for these animals. We put up posters and try to spread the word about becoming foster parents and we continue to look for grants to help cover the cost of spaying and neutering,” she says.
The volunteers are currently working to raise money to buy land and build their own facility, but until that day happens Caitlin and the other volunteers will continue to open up the doors of their own homes and give these cats and dogs a temporary place to stay until a permanent forever home is found.
The Heart of Louisiana Humane Society is an independent, all-volunteer organization and is not a branch of any larger animal-welfare or animal-rights organization. Their mission is to help manage the large number of abandoned animals in their community.
Share Your Finding Forever
In our series, Finding Forever, we are highlighting YOU and the work you do to help animals find the right forever home. We know that a dog or cat can’t say thank you, so we want to showcase the hard work you do. And while at times it can feel frustrating and stressful, it’s important to remember you are not alone and what you are doing is valuable. When we share our knowledge and passion with each other, we can all be on the winning team.
If you have a Finding Forever story to share, we would love to hear it! Email us.
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