Giving hope – and a liftime home – to senior and at-risk pets
Cindy Whittington was having a challenging time when she walked inside the city of Minden’s animal shelter years ago. Her father was in hospice care at the time, and after a difficult night together, she came home crying. She couldn’t bring herself to do anything. She read through a newspaper and saw a picture of a dog at the shelter needing a home.
“I thought, ‘You know, I can’t do anything to help my daddy, but I can save this one,’” Whittington recalled.
She went to the shelter and was encouraged by its staff member to adopt a beagle puppy. However, the dog she had seen in the paper looked terrified and was cowering in the corner of the pin.
Whittington asked, “Well, who will adopt this dog back there?” The staff member told her the dog would die at the shelter because no one would want her. That’s when Whittington decided to adopt her. The 1-year-old dog, unable to walk due to fear, was carried to Whittington’s car and taken straight to the vet.
Whittington named her Carley Jo, and it was Carley Jo who became the inspiration for Carley’s Angels Rescue – of which Whittington is the founding director.
Established in 2019 as a 510(c)(3) organization, Carley’s Angels Rescue began as a rescue for senior and hospice dogs and cats. Today, the rescue helps senior, hospice and critically endangered dogs and cats of any age.
The rescue has taken in 57 dogs and 13 cats from across the Ark-La-Tex and beyond in its first three years of operation. Animals from Houston and Dallas, Texas; Atlanta, Ga., and Baton Rouge have found their way to Carley’s Angels Rescue to be placed in Sanctuary Homes with Angel Parents.
The rescue’s fosters are called “Angel Parents” because the animal is in the home until it becomes an angel.
“There aren’t many organizations that do what we do,” said Lory Kowaleski, the rescue’s intake coordinator, medical coordinator and fundraiser coordinator. “We take in an animal and put it in a home. We pay for its medical needs for the rest of its life.”
Carley’s Angels Rescue pays approximately $5,000 a month in animal veterinary bills. Kowaleski works with Dr. Davis at Caddo Animal Clinic, Dr. Panos at South Shreveport Animal Hospital and Dr. Naar at Bossier Animal Hospital. Funding for the animals’ care is 100% donation-based.
“Most of the animals we take in are in deplorable condition, have had a lifetime of abuse and neglect, and no veterinarian care,” said Whittington. “If God puts an animal in our path, we will take a leap of faith and bring them in because we know if He brings us the animal, He will bring us the funding and the fosters to take care of them.”
Through Facebook networking, most dogs and cats are brought to Carley’s Angels Rescue’s attention, including a private group with representatives from Northwest Louisiana’s largest rescue organizations.
“When rescuers work together, we save more lives,” said Whittington.
Before an animal is placed with an Angel Parent, Whittington, Kowaleski and the rescue’s other two board members, Sue Sandifer and Carol Rochelle, take time to learn its personality. The dog or cat is kept in a temporary place to have its medicine(s) lined up. Simultaneously, future complete an application, which includes vet checks.
The goal is to make suitable matches whenever possible, so the dog or cat complements its Angel Parent. Whittington
said they’ve had a 98% success rate on first placement since 2019. Many senior animals are placed with older individuals – between the ages of 55 and those well into their 80s.
The rescue’s success comes from Whittington and Kowaleski’s extensive local animal rescue volunteer work and Carley’s Angels Rescue’s 40 volunteers. Volunteers become Angel Parents, help with events, fundraise, transport animals to vet visits or a combination of all.
Kowaleski said the rescue constantly needs to raise money, especially near their busiest time: November and January. The rescue receives donations through its website (carleysangelsrescue.org), Facebook birthday fundraisers and community events. The rescue’s most prominent single fundraiser – Give for Good – returns this year on May 3.
One hundred percent of the funding goes toward the rescued animals’ care, including basics like diapers and medications, and critical care, such as prescription medications, cancer treatments, major surgeries and amputations.
“Whether we have the animal for one day, a week, a month, a year or more, we know those were the best times the dog or cat has ever had,” said Whittington. “It was often the first time they were shown love, given a bed indoors and had a family.”