LITTLE VILLAGE — Dogs and cats escaping hurricane-devastated Louisiana were welcomed to Chicago on Wednesday.
Staff members and volunteers from PAWS Chicago, the city’s largest no-kill animal shelters, unloaded the animals at the group’s medical facility in Little Village.
PAWS worked with eight shelters in Louisiana to bring in 23 cats and 15 dogs. They hope the move can free up space in those shelters for pets who have been displaced by the storm, said PAWS CEO Susanna Homan.
The Little Village PAWS medical facility, 3516 W. 26th St., includes surgical and isolation suites and provides spay and neuter services. The recently renovated facility has allowed the shelter to provide more support and services to pets in need and in times of crisis or natural disaster, Homan said.
“We have the capacity to bring in animals with high needs,” Homan said. “We can give them the medical treatment they need.”
Earlier this week, Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, killing at least two people and causing mass flooding, destroying homes and leaving thousands without power.
PAWS received a call from partners in Louisiana last week in hopes of clearing space to make way for displaced pets, Homan said.
“We know that in the weeks and months that follow, we are going to need to continue to support these shelters and bring more animals to Chicago — where we are lucky that so many Chicagoans who love to help pets in need,” Homan said.
On Wednesday morning, PAWS Chicago volunteers drove to Springfield, Illinois, to meet shelter partners and bring the pets up to Chicago. During the exchange, PAWS volunteers provided supplies donated from Chicagoans to help affected shelters.
The medical center team will fully assess each cat and dog, vaccinate them and provide parasite treatment to make sure they are healthy, said Emily Swiniarski, PAWS chief medical examiner and veterinarian.
If the pets are healthy, they will be eligible for foster or adoption.
“Our team at the medical center is really grateful to be assisting and give these animals a new chance and to allow the shelters in Louisiana to have space for animals displaced by the storm,” Swiniarski said.
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