LSU Emergency Animal Shelter

Disaster Response Manual


Background History of the District 6 Emergency Animal Shelter at the LSU AgCenter's Parker Colisuum

By Dr. David Senior of LSU

The facility for the District 6 Emergency Animal Shelter at the LSU AgCenter’s Parker Coliseum
(LSU-EAS) was made possible by an arrangement between Dr. Martha Littlefield, Assistant State Veterinarian, and the LSU AgCenter administration when it became apparent that the previously identified facility, the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA, would almost certainly be overwhelmed by rescued animals.  The facilities at the East Baton Rouge Animal Control Center and local area veterinarians’ boarding facilities were soon saturated and limited space was available in Baton Rouge for the hundreds of displaced owners who were evacuated to Red Cross shelters, churches, hotels, motels and friends’ private homes.  

During the first few days of operation, the LSU-EAS was supported first by the entire Baton Rouge community but in particular by many selfless veterinary students, veterinary technicians, area veterinarians, and faculty, staff and students from other colleges on campus who worked tirelessly under stressful conditions to just make it work.

The LSU-EAS began humbly with a small group of veterinary students from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine under the direction of Dr. Paula Drone, the designated SART Commander for District 6 shelter operations.  Appeals to the public through the media and by word of mouth resulted in an ever-increasing flow of cages, pet food, water bowls, leashes, collars and other supplies into the shelter and in first 5 days, locally donated supplies and volunteer efforts were sufficient to provide adequate care for the hundreds of animals that were admitted.   

In time, an organizational structure was actively developed; however, it should be recognized that nobody in the immediate command structure had any formal training in Incident Command System (ICS), nor was there anyone who had operated, managed or worked in an animal shelter.  Thus, this manual describes a relatively large animal response to an emergency where there were numerous major departures from accepted ICS organization and designation of duties.  This should not be interpreted as a criticism of the ICS system.  The LSU-EAS was very much a “bottom up” operation for most of its life with people on the ground simply doing what had to be done.  The members of the command group understood that managerial structure was needed and they actively requested and were given good advice from individuals who had a better understanding of ICS.   

Finally, it should be recognized that throughout Louisiana during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and, to a much lesser extent, Hurricane Rita, almost all preconceived command structures were at some time or other overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of both the problem encountered and the size of the response required. In numerous instances, the official response was not equal to the task and “top down” management was overwhelmed by droves of “Good Samaritans”, many of whom were from out-of state.  They knuckled down and simply got the job done.  The LSU AgCenter’s Parker Coliseum shelter was no exception to this phenomenon and the LSU-EAS command group wishes to extend its heartfelt thanks to all of those who helped us though this time of crisis.  We were agonizingly disorganized in so many respects but volunteers worked with us to get the job done.  They should be very proud because the LSU-EAS was their accomplishment. 


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