Shelter for homeless dogs, waiting for a new owner

We New Orleanians love our pets as much as they love us. In fact, that mutual devotion resulted in permanent changes to federal evacuation policies after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. So many people refused to leave without their pets that later evacuation plans included pet-friendly shelters and instructions on what to bring with animals.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of animal-loving volunteers came to Louisiana and Mississippi in the days and weeks after Katrina, setting up triage centers and animal rescues, and trying to locate owners of lost pets.

Two of those volunteers, Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, are the subject of this week’s cover story for our Pets issue. Robertshaw and Danta drove to Louisiana with a much-needed truckload of pet supplies, leaving with a trunkful of homeless dogs they aimed to place in new homes in South Carolina. Then they did it again. And again. In all, they saved and found new homes for 600 dogs — and found their calling. Today, the foundation that grew from their initial effort, Danny and Ron’s Rescue, has rescued more than 11,000 dogs (including some from the aftermath of the Baton Rouge floods and Hurricane Harvey).

Their story is told in a much-lauded new documentary, “Life in the Doghouse,” and Gambit will host a free dog-friendly screening at 7:30 p.m. July 9 at Second Line Brewing. We hope you (and your dog) will join us for Robertshaw and Danta’s uplifting story. At a time when there isn’t much uplift in the news, we promise you’ll come away awed at the difference two ordinary people can make.

Which brings us to an important request: Local shelters need your help, whenever and however you can give it. Just last week, the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter called for help after rescuing more than 150 dogs, cats and other animals from a hoarding situation in Terrytown. The shelter already was full, and officials desperately need people to adopt or foster the animals in their care.

 There’s so much to be done, and so much animal lovers can do. Spring is “kitten season” at local shelters, but litters of tiny cats need fostering all year long. Adoptable cats and dogs, both healthy and those with special needs, are always in need of permanent homes.

There’s a myth that volunteering at an animal shelter is depressing. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Shelter workers can’t possibly give each animal the time it deserves, so volunteers play a vital role by walking and playing with dogs or playing with and cuddling cats. Individual attention from a volunteer gives an animal the interaction, emotional support and exercise it needs to be healthy — and it’s fun.

If you love pets, please consider contacting the shelter or rescue of your choice and ask how you can help. Everyone wins.

Gambit will host a free screening of “Life in the Doghouse” at Second Line Brewing (433 N. Bernadotte St.) in Mid-City Tuesday, July 9. A "doggie social hour" will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the movie will start at 7:30 p.m. There will be adoptable dogs on site — and, of course, you can bring your own dog for an outing.

This is a commentary from Gambit, produced independently from reporters at the paper.