DENHAM SPRINGS — Brother Wolf is here for the long haul.
The North Carolina animal-rescue group has spent four weeks gathering stray and lost animals in Livingston Parish. Now it is shifting its focus to help residents improve the quality of life for their pets.
That’s the goal of Paul Berry, executive director of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, of Asheville, N.C.
“We have been in Livingston for four weeks doing search and rescue,” said Berry, a native of New Orleans, who has worked with Brother Wolf for the past five years.
Many Livingston Parish residents have found themselves with extra pets now, either from neighbors who have not returned or strays showing up at their door.
Berry explained the next-step of the approach after search and rescue work on Friday - while helping put together a large wire-fence kennel for Bessie Carpenter in Eastover Estates.
A number of Eastover Estates residents who were flooded out are not returning, Berry said, leaving their pets behind.
Carpenter began taking in neighbors’ pets and strays, building up a group of more than 10 dogs.
“We’re helping in the field with food and housing,” Berry said, and setting up kennels like the one for Carpenter so her dogs can be outdoors without the risk of running into traffic.
“They’ll love it,” Bessie Carpenter said about the kennel as her son, Steve, helped Brother Wolf member Eric Phelps assemble the kennel.
“Now I get to cut the grass,” Steve Carpenter said.
When Bessie Carpenter opened her mobile home’s door, out ran a varied group of energetic pups.
It took a little coaxing, but soon most were checking out the inside of the kennel.
Except for “Bear,” Bessie Carpenter’s own little Yorkie and “boss” of the home, who surveyed the activity from the porch.
“They look happy” in the kennel, Steve Carpenter said.
Brother Wolf will be working with local residents to address health issues such as mange, fleas, heartworms and neutering services, Berry said.
A good animal-control program includes picking up strays and accepting “surrenders,” people bringing in animals they don’t want or cannot care for, he said.
“You need local folks to work together, a parish can’t physically pick up all the strays or pay for neutering or medicines,” he said.
Brother Wolf got a call for help four days after the historic flooding hit Livingston Parish, and Berry said they deployed in 96 hours.
Three boat rescue teams were sent the first week, then with 12 staff and 40 volunteers rotating in, the past three weeks have been doing a grid search of 500 square miles.
“The Sheriff’s Office would get animal-control calls and they would be passed on to us,” Berry said.
Within 12 hours of flooding, the Sheriff’s Office and National Guard had boats out rescuing people, Berry said. But something was missing.
“An animal-rescue team is supposed to be integrated with search and rescue teams,” Berry said, “and they were not integrated until 60 hours (after the flood).
“A lot of animals died in the first 36 hours,” Berry said.
“We thought we fixed it after Katrina,” said Berry, who worked in New Orleans in 2005 with another animal-rescue group. “We had 10 years to plan.”
“The Sheriff’s Office and National Guard did their jobs,” Berry said, with only 13 deaths from last month’s flooding, compared to more than 1,000 in Hurricane Katrina.
“We hope Livingston calls for an investigation,” Berry said into the state response for animal rescue, since many volunteer groups came in at the invitation of private groups and local municipalities.
“Smaller municipalities, like Livingston Parish, and the cities here asked for help,” Berry said.