Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) was formed to help animals that were left behind after Hurricane Katrina. Today the no-kill shelter continues to rescue needy animals with the help of its dedicated volunteers. Here are the stories of Victoria Clark and Forynski, two young ARNO workers who better the lives of animals in the New Orleans area.
“I got involved right after Katrina,” says Victoria Clark. A neighbor of hers had left two cats when he evacuated. She got ARNO to take the cats in exchange for five hours of volunteer time per cat.
“Actually, I didn’t like it at first,” she says. “The puppies attacked my shoelaces. But as I got involved, I liked hanging out with the adult dogs.” Now, she “loves all of it.”
“I live close by and was always animal lover,” Lesley Forynski says. People would call her with pet problems, assuming she worked for the shelter. After joining ARNO six years ago, almost by accident, she remains a dedicated member of the organization.
“I love meeting people, knowing how compassionate people are. You see so many horror stories, but so many people want to help,” she says. She loves helping dogs that have “obviously seen bad times” get treated with love and go to a forever home. Her own dog, Maggie, was an ARNO rescue.
Clark suggests checking out ARNO’s website (AnimalRescueNewOrleans.org) for ways to get involved. There are opportunities for all people, both young and old, she says. The shelter welcomes seniors who want to feed the cats or give treats to the dogs.
In fact, volunteers don’t have to work on the premises. Helpful people make hammocks for the cats or collect grocery bags and newspapers. The Girl Scouts recycle their old cookie boxes into cat furniture, and the cardboard is great for tucking catnip into.
“Anybody can help – it’s not hard at all,” Clark says. Persons of all ages and abilities can always help out. “Just ask us how.”
Forynski also has advice for interested volunteers. Because the organization is volunteer-run, monetary donations are always welcome. Even a few dollars can help cover the costs of veterinary treatments, heartworm medication and spay/neuter programs.
Furthermore, Forynski advocates fostering animals until they can find a forever home. “I personally foster, and it’s the most rewarding thing in the world,” she says.
Forynski hosts a yearly fundraiser for ARNO, the “Jalopy Jubilee,” which began three years ago. With cool old cars, raffle prizes and a DJ, the event has raised more than $9,000 for ARNO.
“The people at ANRO know their animals,” says Clark. “Know what you want and what your situation is,” and the ARNO volunteers will help find an animal to fit into your home.
“Shelter animals are best. You are their second chance,” says Forynski. “They know you’re there to save them … Don’t think about it, do it. You are their only chance.”
To learn more about Animal Rescue New Orleans, visit AnimalRescueNewOrleans.org or call 571-1900.