LaMa fights two preventable epidemics

By Melanie Townsend

LaMa Animal Rescue is struggling to deal with two completely preventable epidemics within our small community.  The first one is an overwhelming overpopulation of dogs and cats. Our community is over-run with abandoned and unwanted animals, left on dirt roads, store parking lots or just roaming the streets trying to survive. LaMa Animal Rescue Group works tirelessly 365 days a year to address this issue and they transport hundreds of animals to their northern rescue partners to find homes for each of them. Northern rescue groups do not have the overpopulation that the southern states have because they voluntarily spay and neuter the vast majority of cats and dogs to actively address this problem, and it works!  Without these rescue partners, LaMa would have nowhere to send the over 700 animals per year from our community. 

All rescue dogs and cats must have a clean bill of health before being transported to the rescues that receive them. Many dogs test positive for heartworms and they can’t be transported until they have been treated and have a negative result. Heartworm disease is the second preventable epidemic LaMa faces every single day. At any one-time LaMa has 50 to 60 dogs in their care going through heartworm treatment. The treatment is painful and expensive and not all dogs survive. Their death is agonizing and hard to witness, but they are treated with the love and respect that they missed in their previous life. 

Heartworm disease is spread through the bite of a mosquito. Mosquitoes thrive in hot, humid environments, and heartworm is rampant in the southern U.S. according to the American Heartworm Society, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Alabama are the states with highest heartworm infection rates.  Heartworms are worms that live and grow in the heart of an infected dog, eventually cauing death if left untreated. Adult heartworms look like strands of cooked spaghetti, with males reaching about 4 to 6 inches in length and females reaching about 10 to 12 inches in length. In endemic areas, such as the South, almost 1 out of every 2 dogs will get heartworm if they are not on prevention medicine. When preventative medication is given, heartworms are completely preventable. 

Being a responsible pet owner is not only a personal responsibility, it’s a responsibility to the animal that looks to his/her owner to provide care, but also a responsibility to the community in which you live. The inaction to spay/neuter or to provide preventative care for your pet becomes a community epidemic that takes a team of people working day after day to raise funds to treat, feed and transport hundreds of animals to find a better life. 

By taking these two steps, to prevent heartworms and spay or neuter your pets, thousands of dollars would be saved and the lives of so many animals would be saved.  LaMa Animal Rescue offers help to those who need assistance with spay and neuter and some vaccinations. 

Please do your part and help support LaMa Animal Rescue in their efforts, without their hard work and determination Webster Parish would have an excess of 800 to 1,000 animals in need roaming the streets and dying a slow and heartbreaking death.  

This is a community epidemic that needs community support and it can be prevented.