The Louisiana SPCA Japonica Street shelter was destroyed during the flooding that followed Katrina and a shelter had to be created out of thin air for the animal rescue efforts. After communicating with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, a shelter was created at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, Louisiana, 60 miles west of New Orleans near Baton Rouge. The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, normally an equestrian center, became the largest animal shelter and animal rescue operation in U.S. history.
The Louisiana SPCA entered New Orleans to begin animal rescue efforts on August 31, two days after Katrina.
Within a matter of days, more than 7,000 addresses were on the Louisiana SPCA’s rescue list and thousands of animals were being rescued. Staff, exhausted and suffering from their own personal losses, the Louisiana SPCA called upon partners from across the country for help. More than 60 groups from around the country, and some internationally, answered the plea to assist with animal rescue efforts.
By October 15, 2005, approximately 8,500 rescued animals came through the Louisiana SPCA’s rescue center at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
Thousands of animals were transported to other states by more than 40 rescue groups because the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center filled over capacity and no single facility in the state was large enough to house every animal.
It’s estimated that over 15,500 animals were ultimately rescued.
A lost pet database was created to help reunite rescued pets with owners. Unfortunately, clear documentation identifying where animals were found and transported was sorely lacking, a casualty of the City’s infrastructure being destroyed and communications compromised, the chaos of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and some rescue groups operating outside the system.