As Pam Perez and her daughter Heidi Krupp were driving back to their homes at the St. Francis Animal Sanctuary, they discussed their hopes that they would be able to go for a few weeks before having any more puppies land at their doorstep. Just then, they noticed that a pile of garbage dumped on the side of the road had begun to move. The ladies ruefully shook their heads, pulled over, and picked up the cute puppy that emerged from the trash. And so Terry became part of the St. Francis menagerie.
Years before, as rescuers of companion animals in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, Pam Perez and her daughter Heidi Krupp became aware of a need for a "safe place" for adoptable animals—a place where animals could be cared for until they found their forever homes. In their hearts they wanted to be able to provide a permanent sanctuary for those who might never be adopted but deserved to live out their lives in comfort and security.
Pam & Heidi decided to devote their efforts to providing a haven for adoptable animals to stay while they wait for their forever family to come along and a permanent home for those who cannot find a forever home. In April, 2000, they called upon three others of similar philosophy, with whom they had worked in the past, to form the St.Francis Animal Sanctuary (SFAS).
The inspiration for St. Francis was the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where Pam completed the "How to Start a Sanctuary" workshop in May, 2000. Subsequently, Heidi and other members of the board visited Best Friends to learn first-hand how to run a successful sanctuary.
Making St. Francis Animal Sanctuary a reality was possible because of hundreds of supporters who wanted to make a difference in the lives of animals through donations of money, labor, and time. In the fall of 2000, SFAS put down a deposit and took out a mortgage on a 24-acre old dairy farm just north of the city of Tylertown in southern Mississippi. The property is mostly rolling pastureland with about 5 acres of woods along a ravine.
The dairy farm had a milking barn and two pole barns, all in poor condition. Soon after the purchase, a tornado took the roofs off the pole barns and downed numerous trees. A lot of work was needed before SFAS could begin accepting animals on the property. The turning point came in the summer of 2002 when SFAS paid off the mortgage on the property. The fallen trees were removed, and the milking barn (Dairy Barn) was made livable as temporary housing for Heidi, the Sanctuary's Director.
One of the pole barns was converted into a modern sanctuary facility (the Dog Barn) with ten inside-outside dogs yards and an inside area for washing and feeding the animals.
External dog yards were constructed to further increase the sanctuary’s capacity. A well was drilled to provide water for the interior of the property, and a septic tank was installed near the new dog barn. The other pole barn was repaired and is now used to store farm tools and straw. A tractor was purchased for grass cutting and no-climb fences were constructed along the perimeter of the property. In the fall of 2002, Heidi moved into temporary housing on the property and the Sanctuary became a reality, opening its doors for homeless dogs.
In March of 2003, the new Dog Barn was dedicated as Diana Daly's Haven in honor of Diana, a volunteer whose contributions of labor and love were instrumental in starting the Sanctuary and who passed away on February 2, 2003. She is greatly missed by us all.
The St. Francis Animal Sanctuary continued to grow through the summer of 2003. By September, the Sanctuary boasted 33 external dog yards and housed over 200 dogs. SFAS expanded its staff to keep up with its animal care needs, retaining three employees to assist the Director. A Director's Cottage was ordered that October.
As 2003 drew to a close, the Sanctuary focused on ways to expand its ability to provide sanctuary space for even more homeless animals. We did this both by seeking the financial support that would allow us to expand our facilities and by increasing our efforts to place our rescued companion animals into loving adoptive homes. We started holding quarterly raffles for such donated items as airline tickets and paintings and monthly Mandeville Trailhead fundraisers, where we sold cookies, dog treats, St. Francis T-shirts, and photographs of pets with their owners.
McDonough Foundation of New Orleans requested that we submit a grant for a Kitty Village. The grant was submitted in November, the same month that the Director's Cottage, built out of cypress wood in neighboring McComb, Mississippi, was delivered. A new water well and septic tank system for the cottage were completed, and Heidi took up residence at Thanksgiving. Ten new external dog yards were built around the new cottage to house the dogs that were under Heidi’s personal care.
In March, 2004 a house trailer was purchased by SFAS and moved to the property next to the Dairy Barn. The trailer is used as a training facility.
SFAS continued to grow rapidly in 2004. About fifty more trees were planted in the winter around the yards to provide shade. Many of these were 15 foot river birches which helped to negate the summer heat. As summer began, four employees were on hand to assist Heidi in caring for the dogs housed at the Sanctuary. Watering all the trees and cutting grass was a full-time job for one of the employees.
SFAS received the McDonough Foundation Grant for Kitty Village and construction began in April 2004 on several cypress cottages to house cats. Construction of Kitty Village, which is situated north of the storage barn, was completed in the fall. This milestone enabled SFAS to extend its care to cats as well as dogs.
Throughout the year, SFAS continued to expand and enhance its facilities. The Dog Barn was refurbished with the installation of a tile floor in the kitchen area and stone patios for the dogs. A septic tank was added for the trailer, making it livable. More outdoor dog yards were built between the Director's Cottage and the Dog Barn. The Dairy Barn was been thoroughly cleaned, the bathroom floor was tiled, and the other rooms were made usable. SFAS purchased the 23 acres adjacent and southeast of the Sanctuary, approximately doubling the area of the Sanctuary and providing room for future expansion. The new land is presently in use as a small tree farm, with pine trees planted in rows about 6 feet high. And in July, 2004, SFAS President Pam Perez published the first issue of Critter Magazine for the New Orleans area, a community publication for animal adoption.
Our experiences with the hurricanes in 2005 are detailed in our November/December 2005 Newsletter. We were very proud to partner with Best Friends in the animal rescue and shelter operations.
We have come such a long way in the four years since the land was purchased!!!! Saving animals is a worthy mission that is both expensive and labor intensive. Please help us bring a time where every companion animal has loving care. Until then, keep supporting St. Francis' existence and growth through your donations and we will keep working towards our goal! Visit our Donations Link to see exciting ways you can participate.
To see the adoptable pets for St. Francis Animal Sanctuary click here
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St. Francis Animal Sanctuary Location
Below is a map for St. Francis Animal Sanctuary, please call for specific directions.
***Note: PO Boxes will not show correctly on the map below.