Animals at the Denham Springs Animal Shelter can ride safely and comfortably, thanks to a donation from the Denham Springs Council on Aging.

The Council on Aging donated one of its used vans to the city’s shelter, thus increasing capacity, efficiency and safety for the animals. Shelter volunteer Berkley Durbin said the van, which already is being used to transport animals to veterinarian appointments and to Petco for adoption days, is much safer for the animals than a truck or a sport utility vehicle, especially during inclement weather.

“A key component for us is no added expense to our budget,” Durbin said. “(We have) no more transporting issues in inclement weather or require multiple trips.”

If homes are available for pets, the van also can be used to transfer the pets to their new owners, Durbin said.

“Transports are usually for a few specific animals that other shelters have selected and found homes for,” she said. “We don’t want to just ship to another place for housing.”

The van also is used to transport animals to be spayed or neutered through Pet Aid, a low-cost spay and neuter program. All animals adopted from the shelter are spayed or neutered, Berkley said.

“Animal overpopulation is a health and safety concern, and while animal control and public safety are a significant part of the shelter mission, we also partner with other animal-focused organizations to promote spay/neuter and adoptions,” Berkley said.

The shelter takes in an average of 50 dogs and 50 cats each month and adopts out about the same, Berkley said.

Last month, the shelter adopted out 124 dogs and 114 cats.

“We provide a significant benefit to our community and value the community participation and donations,” she said. “We regularly have community volunteers and donations of goods and services,” Berkley said.

Just recently, the Rotary Club of Denham Springs donated a storage unit to the shelter, and school groups, the Girl Scouts, Boy and Eagle Scouts and others act as volunteers.

To help dogs newly brought into the shelter stay safe and not contaminate animals already housed at the shelter, the city received a $50,000 Governor’s Assistance Program grant, through the Office of Community Development, and has started construction on an isolation area.

Once completed, the area will allow newly received animals to be separated from the existing shelter kennels by a cinderblock wall, said Main Street director and grant writer Donna Jennings.

“New dogs going into the shelter will be kept away from other dogs until we know they’re healthy,” Jennings said.

The isolation room, which will include electricity and fans and will be enclosed, also will give potential adoptees an opportunity to learn about the dogs’ personality traits, she said.

To date, nearly $24,000 has been spent building the isolation room, she said.

To learn about the Denham Springs Animal Shelter, 600 Bowman St., call (225) 664-4472 or visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DenhamSpringsAnimalShelter.