When Lori Dover considers all for which she is thankful, Sulphur resident Dana Frye comes to mind.
Dover, an animal advocate and entrepreneur who is re-launching an Oprah-endorsed pet safety product, ran into Frye at the veterinarian’s office right before Thanksgiving.
“People need to know about her,” Dover told the American Press. “I call her St. Dana.”
Frye has been rescuing and caring for animals since she was 2, and working at it officially through a nonprofit agency for the last 21 years, first for Animal Angels and starting in 2003 for LaPaw Rescue. LaPaw, which is an acronym for Lake Area Partners for Animal Welfare, provides medical care and treatment of homeless, abandoned an/or abused pets. The number of those pets is going up. However, members and donor numbers have dwindled over the last year.
“I know people are hurting,” Frye said.
She would never refer to herself as a saint.
“She’s too humble,” Dover said.
But she does have a heart for animals, and she admits to feeling a little overwhelmed of late. She understands the hurricanes have left people with damaged homes, and some of them have no homes at all.
The 76-year-old is living under a tarped roof and doing battle against her insurance company to recover the money she’ll need for repairs.
“They’re only allowing $3,000 for replacing my roof,” Frye said. “Plus, I had to turn the check into my mortgage company.”
She only wishes so many of these displaced residents would not have left pets behind.
“Meet Buddy,” she said about a black Lab with a shiny coat and winsome nature that comes bounding over during the interview with a toy in his mouth, hoping to find someone to play with.
“He’s a 1½-year-old black Lab, and he was chained to a tree for at least two days after the hurricane.”
Frye get five to 10 calls a day about animals that need help since the hurricanes.
“Fur-babies have been surrendered to Calcasieu Parish Animal Services and Adoption Center or dumped by the roadside through no fault of their own.”
Cat colonies are a growing concern for Frye.
“In 1999 when I was a member of Animal Angels, Sulphur was so overrun with stray cats, the city council voted cats had to be leashed, or they would be picked up by animal control,” she said.
It took her two-and-a-half days to rescue the 40 dogs and 60 cats. With the help of a grant from Petsmart she made sure cats were neutered, spayed and the ears, tipped, a sign showing they had been neutered and spayed.
Frye responded to large-scale pet abandonment again when Sasol purchased houses of Mossville residents.
“People moved away,” she said. “Some left belongings, including their pets behind.”
Lately, Frye only fosters what she describes as older special needs pets. Her home and sturdily fenced back yard – until the hurricane – is a pet hospice. It’s care that requires active commitment, constant supervising, frequent visits to the vet and often, special food. Stevie is full of lead pellets. Little Girl has a growth and a bad knee. Sugar has a skin condition. Lindsey has an infection.
One of Frye’s rescues has been nursed back to health and is ready for adoption: KiKi, a 12-year-old poodle is in need of a “good grooming a senior who will love on her,” Frye said. “When she’s inside, she likes to curl up beside me and watch TV.”
Since the hurricanes, Frye has responded to a call from a resident of a manufactured living community. All the homes had been destroyed except for hers. She had been feeding 24 cats at her place and 12 more cats further down the street. The woman who contacted Dana needed more cat food, and the cats needed to be trapped, neutered and spayed.
“I drove down there and it looked like a scene out of movie,” Frye said. “Debris, debris, debris…and then my headlights catch Carla and all these cats in my headlights,” Frye said.
A foundation worked in Southwest Louisiana after the storms to humanely reduce the population of unwanted felines.
One of the volunteers heard cats crying at a home in Iowa. She pried the door open and 30 cats came out pouring like water, according to Frye.
“We are feeding 15 large cat colonies right now,” Frye said.
Lake Charles Dog Rescue is getting numerous calls for volunteers to foster dogs until hurricane-wrecked homes are rebuilt.
This Thanksgiving Frye is thankful for the doctors who keep patching her up so she can trap cats and weed eat her yard; friends and family that support her rescue efforts, including the woman who faithfully sends her $5 a month, for LaPaw rescue donors; Alley Cat Allies; Jeff Dorson, Humane Society of Louisiana; Paula Stude, director of Wildcat Foundation in Lafayette; Dr. Rene Grudzien, Companion Care in Lake Charles; Bayou South Animal Hopsital, Howard Trotter and Lori Dover, who found Precision Construction and Roofing of New Orleans, a company willing to repair Frye’s roof and a Home Depot to donate a commercial washer and dryer.
LaPaw Rescue is in need of fosters, donations, food, traps, homes for friendly, “fully-vetted” cats, experienced trappers, someone to transport cats to Wild Cat Federation.
“If we don’t do something now,” spring colonies will more than double, she said, “and wild kittens are hard to catch.”
To find out more, call Frye at 337-215-0025. Donations can be mailed to LaPaw Rescue at P.O. Box 2111, Sulphur, LA, 70604.