3,000 pounds of pet food distributed in LaPlace; Southeast Louisiana Pet Food Pantry partners with Bayou Automotive

Published 8:12 am Monday, October 4, 2021

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LAPLACE — Approximately 3,000 pounds of pet food was distributed to St. John the Baptist residents this past weekend as Southeast Louisiana Food Pantry partnered with Bayou Automotive in LaPlace.

Hurricane Ida’s fierce winds and coastal flooding caused many residents to lose everything, including food and crucial supplies for their precious four-legged family members. Post-hurricane business closures have made pet food harder to find. Meanwhile, storm damage and interrupted employment has led to financial strain for families throughout the region.

Robert Tamplain, outside sales manager for Bayou Automotive, estimated that 250 vehicles were served during the drive-thru event.

“From a pet owner’s perspective, their pets are their family. When Southeast Louisiana Pet Food Pantry approached us wanting a location to distribute the supplies, we didn’t have to think twice. It was a no brainer,” Tamplain said. “Every person that got in line for pet food thanked us wholeheartedly for doing something for their pets because nobody has yet.”

Located at 555 Belle Terre Blvd., Bayou Ford recently became Bayou Automotive with the acquisition of the neighboring Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership, in addition to a Nissan dealership out of New Orleans. The company is growing, but what hasn’t changed is the owners’ commitment to serving the community.

“One of the things owners Ben Gaiennie and Brian Stewart wanted to do when they moved into St. John Parish is be actively involved in the community,” Tamplain said.

He added that Bayou Automotive is committed to partnering with Louisiana Pet Food Pantry for future distributions if the opportunity arises.

Organizer Lisa Brown with Southeast Louisiana Pet Food Pantry said the organization was started in 2018 and originally began as a canine search and rescue group. The group placed pet food boxes in St. Tammany Parish and quickly realized how great the need was.

“We couldn’t keep the boxes full. We now give out pet food every month for people who can’t afford food for their pets,” Brown said. “We also give out supplies and do hurricane recovery. For Hurricane Laura, we sent 2,600 pounds of food to Lake Charles. Here, we’re still rolling. We gave out about 3,000 pounds on Saturday (in LaPlace). We gave out about 1,500 pounds in Slidell. We are working on getting more pallets of food to distribute in the harder hit areas.”

Brown said a lot of people who drove through on Saturday asked about supplies such as dog bowls and cat litter. Several residents also asked where they could seek emergency veterinarian care with many businesses still closed from Hurricane Ida.

Brown said people can support Southeast Louisiana Pet Food Pantry by sharing the Facebook page or donating toward the organization’s Chewy wish list. Families in need of pet food can message the Facebook page, and volunteers will do their best to assist.

Sisters Tammy and Katie Tymon of Community for Unity Louisiana were among the volunteers present at the recent distribution in LaPlace.

Tammy Tymon worked as a dog groomer for 10 years, and she still has a soft spot for animals.

“People are in desperate need of everything, and that includes pet food. It was so special because some of those people have nothing left, but they didn’t give up their pets. It was just amazing to be able to help them keep their pets,” Tymon said. “It’s so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s beautiful to see how the communities are really sticking together and helping one another.”

The sisters started Community for Unity Louisiana in July 2020 and hosted a march against human trafficking in Kenner in August 2020. They later organized a walk for epilepsy awareness and gained a large social media following.

The organization’s current mission is to provide relief for people and pets impacted by Hurricane Ida. Those who have extreme damage from Hurricane Ida can contact Community for Unity Louisiana, and the group will assist in finding sponsors to fulfill a wish list of their 10 to 15 most needed items.

“Once the hurricane happened, we had to do something. We got back on social media and made a wish list of items. We started telling people about the hurricane because the media silence is astounding. There are people all over the United States that don’t even know there was a hurricane here,” Tymon said.