Why I Support Acadiana Animal Aid
Our supporters come to us via a variety of pathways. They are teachers, bankers, entrepreneurs, medical professionals, volunteers, lawyers, students, scientists, community leaders, artists, retirees, and everything in between. One thing they share is a love of animals. We tell the stories of some of our steadfast supporters and what motivates them to help Acadiana Animal Aid succeed.
This month we feature:
Two years ago, Diane Billeaud approached Suzette Fowler at Camp Bow Wow about opportunities to be of service to dogs after she’d lost her own dog to cancer. She wanted to volunteer at a shelter with the most need. Fowler directed her to St. Landry Animal Control. That’s where she began, but she found it wasn’t a good fit.
So she kept searching for a place to offer service in her community. Looking online, she saw a picture of a dog at Acadiana Animal Aid and placed a call. Billeaud spoke with AAA Board Chair Melinda Falgout, who invited her to “Come see.” Falgout gave her a tour of the 10-acre campus dotted with mature live oaks. She saw large grassy areas for dogs to frolic outside facilities housing dogs and cats that all regularly interact with people and receive the veterinary care they need.
“I looked around and thought, ‘God, this place is happy!’” Billeaud says.
She knew immediately that she wanted to be involved with the organization.
“I didn’t know what my niche would be,” she says.
She started by purchasing a table’s worth of tickets for AAA’s annual event, Bark in the Dark, that helps sustain AAA’s life-saving efforts in 22 parishes throughout Louisiana.
Next, Billeaud tried her hand at providing foster care for dogs in the care of AAA. Fostering is an important component in AAA’s efforts to save lives, more than 2,000 this year alone. Those who foster help free up space at Acadiana Animal Aid to accept more animals, mostly from high-kill shelters where they were found as strays or were owner surrendered. Staff and volunteers work to find fostered animals forever homes.
“One night, Elizabeth St. Cyr, (dog adoption coordinator) brought over four tiny puppies for me to foster. I kept them for a week,” Billeaud says. “They needed to be bottle fed, including three times during the night.”
Billeaud then took in two older puppies to foster but her own dogs didn’t appreciate the newcomers.
“I really wanted to help,” says Billeaud, once a clinical social worker and AAA Board member who is now studying fiction writing at the master’s level and has illustrated a children’s book about animals, What’s Watching Me.
So she and her husband, Bo, became Guardian Angels, giving a regular dollar amount each month to AAA, the largest animal welfare organization in Acadiana. The Guardian Angel program provides a consistent source of support for animals’ medical care and day to day operations.
Billeaud believes the transport program and its partnerships with other no-kill shelters throughout the U.S. is a key factor in AAA’s animal rescue success. She also cites AAA’s “I Read to Animals” and “Kids Adventure Camp” as being a great asset to the community.
“It takes so much dedication on the part of staff and volunteers to do the good work Acadiana Animal Aid does,” Billeaud says. “They are all ready to do what it takes for the animals. It’s an impressive team effort.”
Contact Sandra Sarr, Director of Development, for information about how you can support Acadiana Animal Aid at [email protected] or go to acadianaanimalaid.org.
Did you know?
Acadiana Animal Aid is committed to working with our local government to achieve no-kill for Lafayette Parish by the year 2020. We care for more than 300 animals on any given day.