DVMs make a difference sprucing up New Orleans shelters


Nearly 100 volunteers descended on New Orleans in July to volunteer at four area animal shelters.

New Orleans — Nearly 100 volunteers descended on New Orleans in July to volunteer at four area animal shelters.

Veterinarians and veterinary students, some joined by relatives and friends, picked up paint brushes, fencing and other materials to refurbish rundown shelters and shelters damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

This was the first year the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) organized a volunteer effort, but it likely won't be the last, says Cindy Frosheiser, AVMF assistant director and coordinator of the project during the recent AVMA conference.

Cleaning up: Volunteers spent two days fixing up run-down shelters in New Orleans during AVMA. (Photo: courtesy of the AVMF)

Volunteers converged on Jefferson West Bank in Jefferson Parish, St. Charles Humane Society in St. Charles Parish, Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society in Plaquemines Parish and St. John the Baptist Animal Shelter in St. John Parish.

Dr. Lisa Levy and her husband, Dr. Mike Wells, of South Carolina, volunteered their services at the St. Charles Humane Society alongside Dr. Paul Bencuya of High Point, N.C. and his girlfriend.

"The sheet metal is not going to last forever, but that and all of the painting, scraping and cleaning will really help guard against rats, mice and things like that," Bencuya says. "It's a better place to work now and a better place to adopt animals."

Dr. Tom Massie of Washington, Va., brought his own work crew. His wife, Holly, 11-year-old daughter Emily and 9-year-old son Jack all spent a day at St. John the Baptist completing various tasks.

Massie's job was repairing and assembling kennels.

His wife spent her day in a cat trailer attacking the area with mops, brooms and vacuums. The kids bathed dogs.

"It smelled like kitty litter when they started," Massie says. "They did a great job fixing it up."

"It was absolutely amazing the work that they got done," Frosheiser says of the volunteers.

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