NEW IBERIA, LOUISIANA – Two kittens ran away after they were tossed in the street Saturday in front of Angel Paws Adoption Center, but both have made their way back to the shelter, where officials say dumping animals is all too common an occurrence for the nonprofit shelter.
“It’s terrible. Anything can happen to the animal out in the weather,” Kennel Supervisor Melony Viator said. “When we caught this kitten yesterday, it was starving. He was eating really, really fast. It’s just horrible.”
Shelter Director Rocky Gates usually has a day off on Saturdays but she just so happened to be at the shelter when she saw two young men get out of the car, open a pet taxi and casually fling the kittens near the shelter on Troy Road.
“They tossed kittens in the tall grass in the coulee and were gone,” Gates said. “At that point, I saw red.”
Gates said she did not get the names of the young men but scolded them for not only bringing the cats into the shelter after hours but not bothering to knock on the door. Even if they had, however, Angel Paws does not have a drop-off area for “dropped-off animals” when the shelter is closed.
But Gates, luckily, was there. She and her staff looked for the kittens after the incident but to no avail — at first.
Although this story has gained traction since Gates called the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, she and her staff frequently get animals brought carelessly and dumped nearby, not in, the shelter. Some are hurt or even killed before staff can get to them.
“It happens all the time,” she said. “It happens a lot after hours. A few weeks before that, someone dumped a chihuahua under our fence. Luckily it was a little dog and so terrified it ended up staying in the yard. We have dogs tied to the fence, sometimes we only know they were tied because a dog chews through the rope and you’ll have a blanket hanging on the fence.”
Some animals who are dumped simply run away and likely are eaten by coyotes, Gates said. Others don’t make it so far.
“We found a miniature pinscher dead in the road that didn’t belong to the neighbors. I’m positive someone dumped that one, and it didn’t stay on property and got on the road,” she said.
“There’s a place to do that. It’s called animal control.”
Gates said people’s concern over animal control euthanizing the animals isn’t as concerning as what happens when they are left on their own to survive.
“People were saying (on Facebook), ‘At least it wasn’t brought to the shelter where it would be killed.’ Ninety percent of animals that are dumped just can’t survive on their own. They can’t eat mice and be OK, especially with the coyote population. They’re prey, subject to all kinds of diseases, parasites, worms. If you don’t (vaccinate them for worms) it will kill them.”
Somehow, the two four-month-old tabby kittens, Zahne and Zander, made their way back to the shelter unharmed and conveniently during office hours.
“Sunday we didn’t find them, but lo and behold, on Monday there’s a super friendly little kitten in the driveway.”
The second kitten made its way back on Wednesday. Viator said the staff could hear him mewing from under the shelter’s dumpster by the road. Gates and staff were able to coax the little one out.
“This cat wasn’t a wild cat,” Viator said. “It was very friendly, let us pick it up. He’s a sweet little cat, may not know how to catch his own food.”
Gates said the kittens are now in the process of having veterinary care and will be up for adoption soon.
“Dumping an animal is never an answer,” she said. “You’re taking your responsibility and putting it on someone else. If you take it to animal control, at least the animals won’t have a slow, painful, agonizing death at the hands of being prey, disease, being hit or starvation.”