Puppies and dogs were everywhere Sunday afternoon.

Puppies and dogs were everywhere Sunday afternoon.

Girl Scout Troop 143 put on “Take Action for Animals,” a special event in front of the Leesville Court House.

The day featured several organizations that deal with animals. All of these provided information, and some of them showcased dogs available for adoption that day.

And all over the court house lawn, there were dogs, some of whom were available for adoption.

The day was also a fundraiser, with T-shirt sales, hot dogs and a bake sale.

The Girl Scouts also sold pet blankets. Brianna Kessler, 8, explained how they made the blankets.

“We make cuts the whole way around a piece of fabric and then tie the strings into knots,” she said.

The money raised was split among the various organizations at the event. That includes the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, Foster Mama Kittys Inc., Brothers & Sisters in Arms Dog Training, Brothers and Sisters in Arms Dog Training, Best Friends for Heroes and Brandon Veterinary Clinic, and more.

This was the first-ever pet day in Leesville. It may become an annual event, said Gwen Haliburton, troop leader for Troop 143.

Learned of the need

Haliburton said the pet day started off as a service project for the Girl Scouts.

“The more we got involved with the different organizations, we started learning the need for the organizations here,” she said.

All these organizations were already tied together and helping each other. But the Girl Scouts saw the need for a special event that would help each group and showcase the work they do.

“We needed to get the word out a little but more. There’s a couple of organizations I had never even heard of,” she said.

The troop then volunteered at each of the organizations, to help them get the word out and to help raise funds. The event Sunday was a big part of that.

“We’re just trying to get the word out, for everybody to help each other. Especially the Humane Society, all the local shelters,” said Patrick Haliburton, Cadet Troop leader.

One of the bigger projects the Girl Scouts is working on is to enclose the outdoor areas at the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office and Merryville animal shelters.

Girl Scout Troop 143 also hopes to encourage people to adopt, rather than buy, pets.

“We’re hoping between all these events and fundraisers, we’re doing that we’ll spread animal awareness, and give the Humane Society and animal shelters some assistance,” Gwen Haliburton said.

Don’t buy; adopt

The problem is people buy animals rather than adopt from a shelter. They don’t spay or neuter their pets, and let them roam. Or they get big dogs as puppies, not realizing how large they will become.

The result is there are a lot of stray dogs roaming around. Or animals in shelters are killed because no one stepped forward to adopt them, Patrick Haliburton said.

He added that he has two “rescue dogs” at home — dogs that he saved.

Greg Menkin, deputy sheriff with the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, agreed. He is in charge of animal control, and he collects strays, roamers, and dogs that have bitten someone.

“The challenge is to get as many dogs into foster or permanent homes so we don’t have to euthanize. The biggest problem is that many people do not get their pets spayed or neutered,” he said.

He added that neutering doesn’t hurt the animals.

On the job, Menkin. cleans the field at the shelter every weekend, does all paperwork, and cleans and feeds the dogs and their kennels.

Off the clock, Menkin personally fosters as many dogs as possible. Recently, the sheriff’s offive found two puppies and their mother. He and his wife took all of them into their home.

The mother and one puppy have been since been adopted to people in Seattle, but he still has one of the puppies. “Roxie” was with him at the pet event.

It’s for the pets

Aliyana Solano, 9, wanted to get the word out about spaying and neutering.

“It’s just hard to see all the people that don’t know,” she said.

She liked volunteering at the animal shelters.

“You get to know the animals and learn their personalities. And you can actually adopt the animals,” Solano said.

Hailey Heaton, 11, described the purpose of the day.

“We’re here to take action for the pets. We have dogs for adoption. And we have papers telling you the local vets, the local kennels, the local groomers,” she said.

Tatitana Ashley, 11, sat with “Mickey” — a dog she had adopted only the day before. Ashley described Naziah McLaurin, fourth grade, 9, had her adopted Yorkie, “Kaulua,” with her at the Sunday event. Kahlua is a picky eater just like her owner, said McLaurin.

“She hates hard dog food and will only eat the soft kind. Kahlua also loves pizza,” she said.

McLaurin’s cousin, T.J. Powell, third grade, was running around with his newly adopted dog, “Mickey,” on a leash. Powell and his sister really wanted a dog, so they went to the Humane Society where they found Mickey.

“She’s a mixed breed, not a mutt,” Powell said, protectively.

Cats, too

The only cat-related group present was Foster Mama Kittys, which rescues abandoned, abused, and neglected cats and kittens in Beauregard and Vernon parishes. President and founder Johnnie Larkin said she realized there were very few rescue services for cats.

She’s taken in a lot of animals — including a cat with broken leg, and kittens that the owner planned to drown.

Larkin was thankful the Girl Scouts gave her a place to showcase her work. Larkin stressed that she needs cat food and cat litter. But her biggest need is for foster parents for her kittens. The more fosters she has, the more cats she can place until they find their “forever homes.”

Larkin was impressed with the Girl Scout troop.

“They’re reaching out; they’re doing something big. They’re thinking of other things beside themselves,” she said.

She added that these youngsters weren’t looking at their tablets, computers or cell phones. Instead, they were interacting with the animals and eager to learn.

This isn’t the last pet-related event conducted by Troop 143. On Feb. 25, the Girl Scouts will be in the Leesville Mardi Gras parade. They will hand out treat bags, and in the bags will be reminders and information on what local animal shelters need.

Also, at the end of March 30, the troop will hold a bake sale at Walmart to raise money for local shelters, Gwen Haliburton said.

If the pet day comes back next year, the Girl Scouts will add a 5K fun run, Haliburton said.