With each bottom exposed inside the Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter, a cat or a dog awaits the gift of finding a home forever.
Gary Blanchard from Houma hopes to make those wishes come true by sponsoring all adoptions at the shelter this month, making them free for families looking for a new pet.
As of Tuesday, 91 animals have been adopted since the start of the month, said shelter manager Valerie Robinson.
Blanchard, 75, has four dogs of his own – Duke, Tika, Buddy and Oreo – two of which are rescues.
“The best breed of dog is called ‘rescue’,” said Blanchard.
He got his first rescue a few years ago after seeing a dog being dumped from a car near his home.
“I really felt bad when I saw the car leave. The little dog was shaking. (I) didn’t know what to do,” Blanchard said. “He walked into the yard and my two dogs got to know him. Poor little dog, when I approached him he fell to the ground and was shaking. I could tell he had been mistreated.”
Blanchard called the Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter, who sent someone home about 30 minutes later. However, during this time Blanchard said he fell in love with the abandoned dog and offered to keep him. Blanchard decided to name this dog “Buddy”.
“And it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done,” he said of babysitting Buddy. “He is a very affectionate dog.”
About a year later, Blanchard welcomed a second rescue to his family. A black and white cattle dog that he and his wife named “Oreo”.
His hope to see all the adopted cats and dogs into a family motivated him to pay the costs. Helping an animal find a new home is the best gift they can give themselves, Blanchard said.
“I’m not super rich, but I have some money that I have earned over the years.… I gave myself the best Christmas present in the world this year,” he said. .
His son, also named Gary Blanchard and owner of Crawfish House on Prospect Boulevard in Houma, helped his father’s efforts as a co-sponsor.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, the elder Blanchard visited the shelter and offered to sponsor all adoptions for the month. Robinson said it meant “everything” for the shelter to be able to offer low-cost or free adoptions.
Considering it is still less than four months after Hurricane Ida, Robinson said the shelter was surprised by the number of adoptions made this month. The shelter has already passed 85 adoptions in November and is on track to break the December 98 record set last year.
“We’re actually surprised because our community was hit hard by Hurricane Ida, so we didn’t anticipate that our community would be able to add animals to their homes so quickly,” said Robinson. “So it’s a big and pleasant surprise to us that this is the case, that we can place animals in our community directly at this time of year in such a short period of time thanks to the devastating impact of the ‘hurricane.”
Robinson said there are other ways to help the animals at the shelter if they are unable to accept a new pet, such as adoption sponsorship, volunteering, fostering or l purchase of necessary items through the shelter. Amazon Wish List at amzn.to/3qjqoXK.
Here are the schedules for the Christmas week at the Terrebonne Animal Shelter, 100 Government Street in Gray:
- Thursday 23 December (adoptions only) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Friday December 24 (adoptions only) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Closed on Saturday December 25 and Sunday December 26.