After many years of working at a variety of jobs, Desiree Mancuso was never really happy or productive at anything she did. After losing everything she owned to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and seeing the countless animals that either died in the storm or were displaced and left homeless, she knew she had to do something.
Mancuso and a friend decided to start Paws in the Park, a nonprofit that raises funds for local animal shelters, and rescues and finds homes for homeless and abused animals. Paws in the Park is located in St. Bernard Parish, in which majority of all homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In seven years, recovery has been slow and the population is approximately half of what it was pre-Katrina. Many of the residents that have returned are low-income families and cannot afford the high cost of private veterinary services for their pets.
Now, Mancuso spends countless hours holding benefits and events raising funds to help local animal shelters. Through Mancuso’s hard work and unending dedication, Paws in the Park is able to sponsor events so low-income families can afford shots, neutering and supplies for their beloved pets. She works all week at the local animal shelter, volunteers with outside rescue groups and manages Paws in the Park too.
Mancuso answers phone calls 24 hours a day concerning stray or abused animals and responds to each call for help. She is especially involved in pitt bull rescues and recently received 12 staples in her head because she threw her body over a dog that was being attacked by another and though she was traumatized by the event, she went right back to work, doing her best to save each and every one.
Mancuso has finally found her place in life and these animals have given her as much new life as she gives them.