Most of the roughly 50 abandoned dogs parading under the oaks at New Orleans City Park today were bound for a pet adoption program in Virginia, but two were headed for California with their new owner, actress Pamela Anderson.
"My son was hoping we could take all 50," Anderson said before latching on to her two new charges - two small brown dogs tentatively identified by shelter officials as Chihuahua mixes. Anderson named them in honor of fellow actresses Gina Lollobrigida and Brigitte Bardot.
Anderson helped walk the dogs as part of a news conference calling attention to a program aimed at helping deal with an overflow of abandoned pets since the BP oil spill.
"We couldn't find homes for all the dogs that were being surrendered before the spill," said Bridgette Verdin of the Humane Society of Louisiana, which is working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several New Orleans area shelters to find homes for the dogs. Verdin said the spill, which has caused people to lose jobs and income in southeastern Louisiana, only made the existing animal adoption problems worse.
Anderson is the honorary director of PETA. The organization, based in Norfolk, Va., said in a news release that it is working with the Virginia Beach SPCA on an emergency "adopt-a-thon" to find homes for the animals, some of which were given up by people affected by the spill.
Several southeastern Louisiana animal shelters have reported a spike in the number of animals brought in since the April 20 drilling rig explosion that sent millions of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf. In coastal St. Bernard Parish, for instance, an official reported that 117 animals were given up in June, up by 100 from the 17 reported in June 2009.
Organizers of Monday's event said shelters from the coastal parish of Plaquemines and from other parishes farther inland were represented.