As the Louisiana Flood of 2016 wreaked havoc on Livingston Parish on Aug. 15, rescuers rushed to the Denham Springs Animal Shelter to find dogs stranded on the building’s roof and on high ground nearby. Jessica Cameron and volunteers rounded up 17 canines, many of them in dire need of medical attention, and drove them away in a van.
Then the Humane Society of Louisiana put out a call for help. With the region reeling from the rising waters, doctors Liza Ledet and Ashley Geoghegan answered.
Now the two Mandeville veterinarians are being credited with saving the lives of the 17 dogs plus 16 more four-legged flood victims that arrived at their clinic in the days after the flood. On Wednesday (Sept. 28), they were given special Heroes of the Flood awards by the Humane Society.
“Instead of looking away when the need was the greatest, they showed us the best qualities of their profession: being caring, generous and kind individuals and deeply committed to those most vulnerable,” society Director Jeff Dorson said.
Humane Society officials said they were in contact with Ledet shortly after the rescue. After hearing of the dogs’ plight, Ledet said, “drive them to us, and we’ll see how we can help,” Dorson recalled.
When the van pulled up around midnight at the clinic on Girod Street in Old Mandeville, Ledet, Geoghegan and seven of their staff members were waiting. Almost all the dogs were malnourished, and some had bite wounds or injuries that needed immediate surgery. Each dog received subcutaneous fluids, antibiotics and other medications. Geoghegan administered bilateral injections — similar to the practice of acupuncture used in humans – to promote relaxation.
The veterinarians and staff members stayed up all night treating the dogs –then welcomed their regular patients in the morning. Over the next few days, more than a dozen additional dogs arrived at the clinic from the flood zone and were treated for various injuries; two dogs were so weak that they were carried in on stretchers.
Records show that over the next few weeks, the animal hospital provided dozens of surgeries, wound treatments, numerous bandage replacements, intestinal deworming, heartworm treatments and other treatments. The staff and veterinarians, besides tending to their clients during the day, treated the flood victims each night and on weekends, according to the Humane Society.
All of the flood victims that were taken to the hospital survived. Most were either adopted or sent to foster homes.
Three remain at the clinic. Two mixed-breed pups – Larry and Danny – are available for adoption. Ledet said the third dog, Stark, likely will remain at the clinic for continuing heartworm treatments.
Dorson said the two veterinarians spent about $11,000 from their own pockets on the rescue operation. That includes treatment, staff time and supplies.
“Few words can express the level of gratitude and admiration that we have for Drs. Ledet and Geoghegan, their staff and this community of pet lovers who did far more than would be asked of anyone,” Dorson said.
The veterinarians were given their awards at a brief ceremony at the Mandeville clinic. Mayor Donald Villere and several Old Mandeville residents attended to congratulate the two recipients.
“We were happy to open our doors and help save these animals. Every one of them left a special place in our hearts,” Ledet said. “We are also grateful to have been a part of such a collaborative effort across the region, and it was truly heartwarming to see the local communities come together. These animals deserve the best we can give them.”