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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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HOPE for Animals ‘hopes’ benefit raises much-needed funds

HOPE for Animals ‘hopes’ benefit raises much-needed funds

Located just outside of Thibodaux exists a sanctuary that Jada calls home. This is a safe place where she can rest, eat, swim and play in the fenced-in yard without fear or worry. She can stay as long as it takes to find her a loving family and home. This unique doggy-Eden is a no-kill kennel established by the local animal rescue organization known as HOPE for Animals.

Jada has been at the kennel for 11 years now. HOPE for Animals’ ‘no-kill’ policy provides an alternative over the government-funded shelter which euthanizes animals after just five short days.

Jada is alive today thanks to HOPE’s relentless determination to rescue and save as many stray and homeless animals as possible.

Lafourche Parish has a surplus of stray and abandoned pets with limited funds and resources to adequately deal with the problem responsibly and effectively. In 1994, two sisters teamed up and began the Humane Organization for the Protection and Education for Animals.

Sisters Ruth Chiasson and Kathy Labat grew up on their family farm in St. Helena Parish. Years later, they married Cajun and moved to Lafourche Parish. Kathy was Central Lafourche High School’s nurse for years until her recent retirement. The sibling’s passion for our area runs deep as does their love of animals they developed as children on the farm.

“Thousands of animals are put down every year in Lafourche,” says Chiasson. “There are so many homeless animals in our area. We knew we had to do something to help rescue as many as we could from the streets and from being euthanized,” she added.

“The government shelter charges a fee to relinquish your pet,” she says. “Many pet owners who can no longer care for, or no longer want their pet, forgo the fee and shelter option and merely release their unwanted dog or cat into the community,” she said.

The problem is compounded when pet owners neglect a pet’s basic medical needs and population controls.

“We don’t have any mandatory laws here with reference to spaying and neutering,” says Chiasson. “Ninety-five percent of the animals we rescue have heart worms and most are not spayed or neutered. We have a large stray population of unhealthy, abandoned pets that are reproducing exponentially,” she added.

Labat has been working diligently with no-kill shelters in the Northeast. Most of the shelters in that part of the country are empty. So the demand for adoptable pets is high.

“We are working really hard to find a suitable transport company,” says Labat. “This way we can get our pets up there and adopted into loving homes,” she said.

Hope rescues roughly 200 animals yearly. Their kennel can accommodate 25 or so dogs at a time. The remaining 175 is expertly cared for by foster families throughout the parish.

“All of our rescues are fixed, de-wormed, micro chipped and get regular vet visits,” says Chiasson.

And the medical costs can add up quickly!

“Our expenses typically run between $8000 to $10000 monthly,” she said.

Last month saw an abundance of heartworm treatments.

“We had our most expensive month ever – $16,000,” says Chiasson.

Hope for Animals is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization and is solely funded through donations, grants and fundraisers. Hope’s annual Bone Appetite fundraiser always gives the group’s bottom line a much-needed boost.

The event is set for Sunday, August 31 at the Royal Villa Reception and Banquet Hall in Raceland and features many new firsts!

“For the past 10 years, Bone Appetite has been a dinner event with dancing and live music,” says Chiasson.

“This year we decided to change it up. We are having a Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by a comedy show and silent auction,” she says delightfully.

Attendees will enjoy hickory-smoked ham, scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes, fresh sausage and mimosas.

And save room for dessert!

An hour-long comedy show featuring Becky Allen, voted New Orleans’ favorite actress for 20 years in a row, as well as nationally touring comedian with a unique New Orleans twist, Jodi Borrello, will entertain the group also.

Tickets are $45 and benefits Hope for Animals. If you would like to attend the Bone Appetite Benefit Brunch, Comedy Hour and Silent Auction, you can R.S.V.P by Monday, August 25th with Kathy Labat at (985) 859-8596 or via email at