Story and Photos by Mckenzi Neal Data News Weekly Contributor
In New Orleans there are over 130 festivals annually. This year, there was one for the pets. The Louisiana SPCA or the Humane Society (LASPCA) hosted their first ever carnival fundraiser for New Orleans-area pet owners and pet-lovers, which provided family and community members the opportunity to learn, support, and engage with their fellow furry friends in support of the LASPCA’s mission in the region.
“Carnival is a brand new, first ever event done. [We] raise money for pets in the community, as well as keeping people and pets together and getting pets who need a home adopted. The two main drivers we’re fundraising for are keeping pets in their forever homes and helping get adoptable pets, adopted,” said Rebecca Melanson, the Communications Director for LASPCA.
The Carnival was held on Saturday, Oct. 14th, located on SPCA’s new campus which was built after Hurricane Katrina in 2007 at 1700 Mardi Gras Boulevard in Algiers. According to LASPCA, Katrina had an impact on animal treatment in the area, relegating them to non-essential. The human-animal bond was even more important after the storm, helping residents cope with loss and destruction and even loneliness through the Pandemic and other subsequent natural disasters, the organization noted.
“The turnout is great. We were expecting the number to be 200-300 people, but we hit 400. [Definitely] happy with the turnout, especially with it being our first event,” Melanson said.
“Last year we did the 45th Annual [Gala] and it was a little stuffy. We wanted something where our supporters and community would want to come and have the space to do so … and be more accessible and affordable,” Melanson said.
For community members and their pets who attended were welcomed with live music, an auction, games, carnival fair like foods, and immersive educational activities, showing how community gatherings can help bring awareness which impacts over thousands of animals.
“It’s important to see the work we do here. A lot of people don’t know what animal welfare is. So even just to talk to staff and be educated about it [animal welfare] such as: debunking the misrepresentation of pit bulls. It’s also good to have affordable care for the animals,” said Zachary Murphy, a Transport Rescue Coordinator.
The LASPCA is one of the oldest and most Comprehensive Animal Welfare Centers in the State of Louisiana providing care for more than 70,000 homeless and companion animals. LASPCA has been serving the community of New Orleans for more than 128 years with plans to expand annual events through the new Carnival.
“An event such as Carnival is one for the books. I think it’s great there is a community dedicated and willing to provide for the betterment of pets,” said Kai Davis, New Orleans native who attended the Carnival. “LASPCA isn’t just known for having cats and dogs, but they have goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. If anything, I think it shows the advocacy the shelter has for providing forever homes to any pet in need,” Davis added.