GONZALES — Sean Adams credits a Westie-Chihuahua mix he got from Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension with saving his life.
The volunteers with C.A.R.A. are quick to praise Adams, who is disabled, for rescuing the dog they called Sage.
Either way, the small black dog got his first motorcycle ride Saturday and has become a constant companion for Adams, of Prairieville, who said he lost six needed pounds thanks to his new daily dog-walking routine since getting the dog two week ago.
Adams, C.A.R.A. volunteers and Sage, who Adams calls Hobo, were reunited Saturday during the nonprofit’s weekly pet adoption day at PetSmart in Gonzales.
Adams stopped by the store to pick up treats for Hobo and thank the volunteers for the successful match.
“He’s rescuing me,” Adams said.
Adams, who said he became disabled in 1998, looked for a dog for more than a year before he met C.A.R.A.
“I knew when I saw him that he had the perfect temperament,” Adams said.
As Adams and his dog meet with C.A.R.A. volunteers, group founder Helen Morales was busy questioning a prospective pet adoption applicant.
Morales, who founded the group last year, said C.A.R.A. takes the adoption application process seriously, asking as many questions as one would expect if he or she were adopting a child.
“We want to make a good match for the pet and the family,” she said.
She was interviewing a family that wanted to adopt an Australian Shepherd mix puppy that was found on La. 42 last week.
Volunteer Donna Blanchard said her son found the puppy wondering lost and called his mother.
It’s the fifth dog Blanchard has fostered since she joined the group.
“They (C.A.R.A.) pay for everything; all you have to do is feed and love them,” Blanchard said.
While Blanchard said she enjoys fostering the pets, she does find it difficult to turn them over to their new owners.
“I cry every time they go,” she said. “But you do get to see where they’re going ... and I know they are going to a good home.
Keeping pets out of shelters and into a new “forever home” are the nonprofit’s main goals, Morales said.
Morales has about 25 volunteers who take homeless dogs until a new home is found, she said.
Morales started volunteering to foster animals three years ago after visiting an assisted living facility that had a pet program.
Then, last year, she and friend Gloria Berry were driving when she got a call from the manager of the PetSmart asking if she would be willing to bring animals to the Gonzales store for adoptions.
“I pulled off the side of the road and we talked about it and then we ran with it,” Morales said.
The group uses social media and a network of pet-loving friends and co-workers to find, rescue and foster cats and dogs.
Since its inception late last year, the group has fostered 70 cats and 37 dogs, she said.
Some of those pets are displayed on the group’s Facebook page and taken to PetSmart on Saturdays and Sundays.
The first dog rescued by the program also stopped by for a visit Saturday.
Cara, a Whippet-pit mix sat calmly as owner Erin Carnline, of Gonzales, chatted with other volunteers.
Cara was rescued a week after Hurricane Isaac.
But instead of finding Cara a home, Carnline decided to keep the high-energy puppy.
“I’m a foster failure,” she said.
Hope Papenburg, a Lowery Middle School teacher, said she learned about C.A.R.A. through a friendship with Carnline, who works at the same school and is vice president of C.A.R.A.
“I saw her wearing her C.A.R.A. shirt one say and I asked her about the group,” Papenburg said. “I’m on my fourth dog now. All the other three went to good home.”
The group needs more volunteers to foster animals in their homes, Morales said.
Volunteers, like those who adopt the pets, are checked out by Morales and other agency captains before they are accepted into the program, she said.
Morales said the group raises money for veterinary and other expenses through garage sales, donations and other fundraisers.
They’re having a garage sale from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11 at Morales’ home, 16469 Oakview Drive, in Prairieville.