Genie Goldring declares her "long-time love of dogs," and her daughter Lindsay Goldring has a background in dog training and animal rescue. Together, they make the perfect team to address the local animal welfare epidemic that stems from overpopulation, neglect and abuse.
Through their nonprofit organization, The Inner Pup, the mother-daughter duo is tackling animal welfare problems by working to prevent them.
“We didn't feel that the animal welfare situation in New Orleans was manageable,” Genie says. “Once the animals were in a shelter, dogs particularly, their fate was out of our control.” There were no services the women could provide to the animals already committed to a kennel.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized.
The Goldrings try to keep animals out of shelters altogether by spreading awareness about responsible pet ownership. They began by visiting low-income sections of the city where rates of animal abuse and neglect are highest, and teaching residents how to treat animals with kindness.
A Netflix documentary chronicles the life of a couple who has rescued more than 11,000 dogs since Hurricane Katrina.
Since launching The Inner Pup in 2014, the Goldrings and their team of volunteers, veterinarians and teachers have rolled out programs that educate and engage the local community, and ultimately protect animals’ health and well-being.
The Inner Pup runs monthly pop-up heartworm prevention clinics and offers low-cost heartworm and flea-and-tick pet care. People who cannot afford regular veterinary care for dogs that already have contracted heartworms can enroll their pups in a heartworm treatment study.
Heartworm disease can be fatal. According to The Inner Pup, 80 percent (nearly 160,000) of shelter and stray dogs in New Orleans are heartworm-positive. But the organization is trying to reduce those numbers as much as possible.
This year alone, they have administered 1,515 months of heartworm prevention medicine to more than 380 dogs, and 444 months of flea prevention medicine. Twelve pups have completed the treatment study and no longer have heartworms.
“We started a heartworm treatment study because our hearts ached for the dogs that we found in the clinics that were heartworm positive, whose owners had no option for heartworm treatment because of the cost of it,” Genie says.
The nonprofit organization also operates a two-week education program in New Orleans charter schools that teaches children benevolence for animals and companionship with dogs through training and behavior. Through the program, the kids begin to realize “that dogs have feelings,” and they question how people treat their pets, Lindsay says.
“A lot of the kids don't quite understand that pets are our family,” she says. “They don't relate to them, or they're scared of them. By the end of the two-week program, you see a transformation of these children. They are just yearning for connection and we bring that to them.”
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The Inner Pup also created a free handbook for animal welfare agencies interested in creating similar wellness programs. They have partnered with the large-scale veterinary health foundation, Banfield Pet Hospital, along with local SPCAs, vet clinics and the Villalobos Rescue Center.
Partners outside of the state — and even the country — have expressed interest in The Inner Pup’s programs.
“Both of our programs are prevention-based programs” that help pet owners understand and manage the responsibilities of caring for their pets, Lindsay says. “Our community clinics bring equality to vet care and help pet owners in financial need keep their furry family members for life, as well as alleviate unnecessary suffering due to heartworm disease. Our education program … unlock[s] compassion, empathy, trust and respect for the next generation of New Orleans, both with their pets and with each other.”
It's a terrible feeling. You leave Fido or Fifi alone in the yard for five minutes and when you return, he’s nowhere to be found.