One of the best parts of living and working in New Orleans is getting the chance to interact with all the passionate and giving people that make this community tick. Addie Leger, customer service agent here at Garcia Insurance Services, is one of those people and she introduced myself and our team to a local non profit named Animal Helper (animalhelpernola.org) that’s making a big difference in the well-being of animals in New Orleans. They work to re-home animals from rescues and shelters who otherwise wouldn’t have been given a second chance.
Founded by lifelong animal lover and experienced animal rescuer Alissa Johnson, Animal Helpers, along with the team, has successfully found loving homes for animals in New Orleans since 2009. I’m excited to share their story!
Meet Alissa Johnson from Animal Helpers
After completing her college degree at the University of Alabama and having worked for Maddie’s Fund, Alissa knew she wanted to spend and share her life passion of saving animals. She moved to New Orleans 10 months after Katrina and saw an immediate need for a rescue shelter for the animals displaced from the hurricane. Gathering her experience from Maddie’s Fund and other rescues, she decided to open Animal Helper in 2009. Animal Helper is a place that saves animals that would have otherwise been euthanized in shelters. Animal Helper aims to give shelter animals another chance at finding a forever home.
Giving a second chance
What sets Animal Helper apart from other rescue organizations in New Orleans is their guiding principle to take animals regardless of how “adoptable” they may or may not be. If they are sick or injured and are treatable, they will take them. If they aren’t the cutest animal in the shelter, they will take them. “We take the animals no one else will,” Alissa shared. “Most rescues take the most adoptable dogs, so the shelter is still stuck with dogs who are un-adoptable and will be euthanized.” Animal Helper takes those dogs.
“We also take a lot of orthopedic cases and have a good relationship with veterinarians in the area who are willing to help us treat these animals.” Most rescues would have passed the animals that are easily treatable because of financial reasons, but with volunteers, community support and donations, Animal Helper can afford the minor bills needed to make the rescues healthy again. Their team is always overly excited when they are able to give these “non-adoptable” rescues a life-long home.
While Animal Helper doesn’t bring in dogs with a history of biters, they do bring in animals that may have been overly scared or shy in shelters and just need a new environment to relax in and show their true friendly colors.
Involving the community
As Alissa put it, “everybody makes up the puzzle that is Animal Helper. . . We all have different parts, some are donors and some are volunteers, but we couldn’t do what we do without any of those who help us.” Alissa noted that even if someone doesn’t have time to come out and physically volunteer or make a donation, an action as simple as sharing one of their adoptable pets on Facebook can make a huge difference. “Some of our best volunteers and adopting families found us through Facebook.”
Making a difference in lives
It’s safe to say that the differences we make in the lives of animals are reflected in our lives as well. The staff and volunteers at Animal Helper are selfless, hardworking and humble, and provide the utmost care for each animal that comes through their doors. I’m happy to share the work that they do in hopes that it will inspire others in our amazing community to go out and get involved.