Jodi Golden – Cause: Friends of the Animals Baton Rouge

Jodi Golden’s passion for pets motivates her to help find forever homes for forgotten animals.

Jodi Golden has always felt compassion for helpless creatures. As a young girl in Massachusetts, she volunteered at a wildlife rescue center that cared for injured birds, but her tender heart got her into trouble when she liberated a cage full of mice that were intended for use as food.

“It didn’t occur to me that the birds would not get fed, but I was sure happy to help free the mice,” she says. “That was the end of my wildlife volunteer job.”

Today, Golden’s efforts are still focused on rescuing vulnerable animals—this time, the thousands of dogs who find themselves in Baton Rouge’s overcrowded shelter each year. Through her work with Friends of the Animals Baton Rouge, Golden serves as a foster “parent” for shelter dogs, bringing them into her family’s home and gauging their temperament, taking them to adoption days (held most weekend afternoons at Orvis Perkins Rowe) and helping to place them with new owners. More than 60 dogs have spent time with the Golden family—including her husband Brett and their three children ages 10 and under— since Jodi’s first foster assignment two years ago.

“Fostering was a little tough at first,” she admits. “You get to really care for these animals, and it’s bittersweet to see them go, but the natural high it gives me is addictive.”

Golden’s involvement with FOTA doesn’t stop there. She has spent countless hours bathing and caring for neglected dogs and having them spayed and neutered. As her children have grown, her volunteer tasks have evolved; today she’s just as likely to be found networking on the organization’s Facebook page and coordinating adoptions and rescues. She also serves on FOTA’s board of directors and helps with fundraising. The schedule may be grueling, but Golden pursues this work as a true calling.

“I would be lying if I said it was easy,” she says. “But I am so passionate about this group and about helping these dogs. … I have to help them. There really isn’t a choice. It’s an uphill battle that we’re fighting, with no real end in sight. So I keep smiling and keep going.”

Golden encourages families seeking pets to keep FOTA’s friends in mind, noting that many full-bred, house-trained dogs are waiting for new homes.

“My inspiration comes when I see a family adopt a homeless dog,” she says. “That’s one more dog that won’t be put to sleep or have to live one more scary night in the city’s outdated, dilapidated shelter.”

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How is your cause making a difference?
FOTA holds adoption days every weekend for dogs and cats. We also provide foster homes to get dogs out of the shelter, raise money to pay for medical treatment, and spread awareness through schools and media.

What do you hope to achieve?
I hope to see lower numbers of animals pouring into the shelter. I would love to see a new state-of-the-art shelter built for our homeless pets because they deserve it. I want every family in Baton Rouge to have a dog or a cat … or both.

How would you like to inspire others?
By showing them the gratification that comes from helping those that cannot help themselves.

What is something we don’t know about your cause?
We helped to launch the very successful Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS) program, which keeps people from having to surrender their pets to the city’s Companion Animal Alliance shelter. PASS helps with medical care and rehoming.