Magnolia Chapter marks 10 years of animal rescue

Published 4:14 am Friday, July 20, 2018

In June of 2008, five people formed a local chapter of the Humane Society of Louisiana and called it the Magnolia Chapter. The mission of the group was to establish a fund for emergency animal rescue and care, while reducing the numbers of unwanted animals in Washington Parish through education, spay/neuter programs and adoption/foster programs. From five people with a passion for animal rescue and spay/neuter, the group has grown into a well-known force for animal assistance in Washington Parish. Two of the original members have been joined by dozens of other volunteers to create a thriving network of resources for abused and abandoned animals, including a very active low cost spay/neuter program.

According to Kay Grantham, secretary/treasurer of the Chapter and one of the five founding members, one of the goals of the organization has been to empower all residents of the area to take action for any abused or abandoned animal that they encounter.

“We are seeing more and more people willing to step up and make the call to law enforcement, or put out food and water, or act as a short term foster home when they see an animal in need,” Grantham said.

With a social media group following of 6,500-plus members, reaching out to Magnolia Chapter for help for a dog or cat is easier and faster than ever. With a dedicated group of foster families, many of the animals are helped immediately. When other help is needed, Magnolia Chapter has formed relationships with a dozen other rescue groups and can reach out to them as soon as a need is known.

One of the most important ways, according to Magnolia Chapter, to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats in the area is to spay or neuter your pets. The group has established a Community Cats Program and is spaying/neutering 15 to 30 cats per month at no cost to the people who feed and care for the cats in Washington Parish through the Trap, Neuter, Return program. These cats are returned after surgery recovery to the spot where they were trapped.

There are five members of the Magnolia Chapter/Last Lifeline Trapping Team. They are Wendy Rawls, Daniel Touchstone, Sun Davisworth, Sharon Munier, Virginia Guedes and Dee Jones. These volunteers spend countless hours in all kinds of weather to locate and trap cats and take them in for surgery. After surgery, they spend time caring for the cats until they can be released to the area where they live.

If you see a cat with a missing tip on its left ear, you will know that the TNR Team has been in your area. The tipped left ear is the universal symbol for a cat that has been spayed or neutered. If you have stray cats in your area and would like to learn TNR, call the Magnolia Chapter at 985-241-4290. Choose option 2 and leave your name and phone number and that you are interested in TNR. A TNR Team member will return your call. Magnolia Chapter has humane traps to loan as well as instructions and assistance with approved trapping methods.

Over 1,200 owned cats and dogs are spayed or neutered each year through the program that was established in February of 2009. Call 985-241-4290 and choose option 1 for dogs or option 2 for cats. Leave your name and phone number to be called for spay/neuter appointments.

The current fee for in-parish dogs is $65 and for out-of-parish dogs is $75. Current fee for in-parish cats is $35 and for out-of-parish cats is $45. All fees include a rabies vaccination. This program is only for spay/neuter. Magnolia Chapter does offer microchipping with the surgery for an additional $20. Microchipping is the best way to prove the identify of your dog or cat if your pet becomes lost and is picked up by Animal Control or found by a stranger. Microchipping is extremely important in our area if a hurricane forces an evacuation. Your pet may be put in a shelter or picked up by out of area rescuers and a microchip will get your pet back to you as soon as possible. All Veterinarians offer microchipping, including The Animal Place, Bogalusa Animal Clinic and Franklinton Veterinary Clinic.

The Magnolia Chapter is completely volunteer-based and receives no income from any source, other than donations. The group does not have a shelter but does provide assistance to the City of Bogalusa Animal Shelter. With Magnolia Chapter assistance, BAS has become a public shelter with a low kill rate, something uncommon for a small town Southern shelter. Magnolia Chapter uses foster homes to care for dogs and cats that are taken into care and all Veterinary needs for the animals are provided by the Magnolia Chapter. The group depends on the support of the community to continue to rescue, provide Veterinary care, foster, adopt and transport homeless pets. In the ten years since the Chapter was formed, the community has shown that they can and will support a better life for all animals in Washington Parish.

The young people of the area are setting a good example for all to see as they collect donations of dog and cat food, treats, collars, leashes, litter, blankets and cleaning supplies to help keep the Magnolia Chapter foster cats and dogs healthy as well as the dogs at Bogalusa Animal Shelter. Recently, donations were collected by Bowling Green 4-H, Varnado High School National Technical Honor Society, Bogalusa High School Honor Society, Pine 4-H, and Annunciation Beta Club.

The most recent fundraiser is an example of community support in Washington Parish and surrounding areas. A raffle benefiting the Magnolia Chapter was put together by Scott and Melynda Ard and Cherie and Bryan​ Genco. Businesses and individuals in the area donated raffle items and offered raffle tickets for​ ​sale in their stores.

Supporters included ASI Services, Seal’s Welding Supply, Seals Sales and Service, Dr. Jacqueline Broome, Southern Pistol Academy, Wild Blu Boutique, Milltown BBQ, McMillan’s Nursery, Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, Gayle’s Jewelers, Sharon Schwarz, Bears Restaurant, Sugar Scrub Station, Walmart, The Animal Place,​ Crossroads Seafood and Grill, Big Daddy’s Seasoning, Golden Pear, Ronnie G. Penton​, B and C Hall, and Genco’s Amusement. Purchases of the $5 tickets by supporters made the raffle a success. A total of $5,423 was raised for spaying and neutering and providing Veterinary care for homeless animals as well as supporting those local foster parents while they prepare dogs and cats for a forever home. Magnolia Chapter President Beth Eaton said, “Magnolia Chapter has tried to stay true to course with what is dear to our hearts since we began ten years ago. Volunteers organized and worked extremely hard to make this, our largest fundraiser to date, a success. Thank you to everyone that has kept Magnolia Chapter rolling on the rescue path.”

As much as Magnolia Chapter has accomplished in 10 years, including over 10,000 cats and dogs spayed/neutered, hundreds transported and transferred to other no kill rescue groups, hundreds adopted into forever families, many allowed to stay in the home they have with veterinary assistance and food donations, there is still much to do, according to Tiffany Smith, vice president of the Magnolia Chapter.

“High on the list of needs is foster homes for dogs and cats,” Smith said. “Remember if you foster a dog from a public shelter, you save that dog’s life as well as the dog that takes its place.”

The dogs at Bogalusa Animal Shelter benefit from the Magnolia Chapter as volunteers go weekly to take pictures and give medications, including heartworm prevention, flea treatment and dewormer, all donated by the group.

“But the dogs need playtime with people and there is some work that needs to be done on the kennels to make them safer for all size dogs,” Smith said.

A canopy or covered area is needed for visitors to be out of the weather when meeting adoptable dogs. Signs directing people to the BAS would help get potential adopters there.

Magnolia is also always in need of people who can move dogs and cats and supplies between shelters, foster homes and veterinarians. These volunteers are called transporters. If you would like to become a volunteer, call 985-241-4290 choose option 5 and leave your name and phone number and what you would like to do. A volunteer will return your call to discuss the programs with you.

Available dogs for adoption from Bogalusa Animal Control can be seen in the photo album at To go in person, call David Kellis at 985-516-2054 or Belinda Martin at 985-516-7039. Magnolia Chapter dogs and cats available for adoption can be seen at as well as at