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CelebrityPhilanthropyNews. com

Pet Memorial in New Orleans:   Wendy Diamond and Frances Hayward

Pet Memorial in New Orleans:   Wendy Diamond and Frances Hayward
Photo by:  Ingrid Rivera Photography.




 A little thing like the threat of Hurricane Gustav and evacuation of New Orleans didn’t stop BeKind founder Frances Hayward and CBS’ Greatest American Dog star Wendy Diamond and her little white dog Lucky from heading literally into the eye of the storm.  The animal advocates joined Councilwoman Jacquelyn Clarkson for the unveiling of the first Pet Memorial held in the Municipal Chambers at City Hall and followed with a benefit luncheon on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29.


Baton Rouge artist Richard Chashoudian was commissioned by The Humane Society of Louisiana to create a national monument to honor the pets that perished during, and after, the devastating storm. The beautiful Pet Memorial features a bronze, life-size statue of a cat and dog resting on a piece of 150-year-old Louisiana Cyprus.  The accompanying plaque reads  "THEY WILL NEVER BE LEFT BEHIND AGAIN...." listing all that had contributed, beginning with Hayward’s The Amigo Foundation. The statue and plaque will remain as sad reminder and a forever tribute to the tragic animals that lost their lives.


Councilwoman Stacy Head, Clarkson, Hayward, Diamond and her little white dog Lucky joined the artists and Jeff Dorson, the head of the Humane Society of LA and more than 150 animal rescuers, first responders, local dignitaries, and directors of animal charity foundations and humane societies for the presentation and lunch that followed at the Astor Crowne Hotel in the French Quarter.


During the ceremonies, Hayward was presented with the Key to the City for her heroic efforts following Katrina.  A veteran of many hurricane rescues, Hayward accepted the Key on behalf of her beloved dog AMIGO, who died earlier in the year. “Amigo headed the rescue efforts in the Gulf Coast when we bussed animals out on The Amigo Express," stated Hayward. “I was truly honored when he was made "King of Barkus" during Mardi Gras in 2006 and again in 2007 where he served as Grand Marshal.” Diamond was given the International Ambassador Award, while her pooch Lucky seemed pleased to command the podium.


Supporters and animal lovers including Petco Foundation President Paul Jolly, CBS newscaster Eric Paulsen, NY veterinarian Dr. Babette Gladstein, TV reporter Alfred Richard, Blue Dog artist George Rodriguez, Eric Iglesis and Sean Payton and Deuce McAllister of the New Orleans Saints enjoyed the fine vegetarian cuisine while coming up with new ways to help raise funds and awareness.



The euphoria quickly disappeared following the luncheon as the residents were forced to turn their efforts towards the evacuation. “It was time for me to shed my pink Ungaro dress and roll up my sleeves to help,” stated Hayward.  “After visiting the ARNO shelter in Metairie, and seeing the heroic work being done by HSUS - crating them and putting them in giant air conditioned trucks to be sent to safety, I was called by my friends to assist in the evacuation of people with their pets onto buses downtown. Members of the National Guard were very much in evidence.  What was so killing me was the sight of these beautiful, very poor, at times physically challenged, residents lining up in the intense heat with their beloved animals.  The deep love for their pets, many overheated and dehydrated and wrapped in cool wet towels to cool them down, was the real story here. It was so beyond touching and yet heartbreaking to me, that against the backdrop of such dreads and fear, we were able to get it all accomplished with such compassion by the heroic volunteers of ARNO and The Humane Society of Louisiana. I feel this experience was 'life changing',” added the animal advocate, “and I thank Heaven that they were ultimately spared.”


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