Since a few weeks before Mardi Gras, locals have noticed unusual sculptures appearing throughout the New Orleans metro area. These works of public art, most brightly colored, bear a striking resemblance to the ‘bead dogs’ created by idle hands throughout the parade season from bits of broken bead strands.
Area vegans have been pleased to learn that these sculptures are, in fact, a fundraising project of the Louisiana SPCA called ‘Paws on Parade.’ The LA SPCA is the oldest animal welfare group in Louisiana, and its mission is “to advocate for the animals of Louisiana by advancing their welfare, promoting their interests, and fostering the human/animal bond through innovative programs, education, and service.” As such, Nola vegans frequently support LA SPCA’s efforts.
As stated by the project’s web site, “Paws on Parade raises awareness for animal welfare in our region, supports the art community, and beautifies our area.” The concept is that by putting dog sculptures on the streets, more dogs will be kept off the streets. To execute the idea, LA SPCA asked local artists to submit designs for the sculptures. Bead dogs were then made available for purchase, and are still available. Depending on the level of sponsorship (from ‘Salvador Doggy’ to ‘Ren-Woof’), the purchaser can even choose where the dog is displayed in the metro area. Bead dog sculptures are available to individuals, organizations, and businesses beginning at a sponsorship level of $3000.
The dogs will be on display throughout the spring and summer, and into the fall. Those dogs not sold by the fall will be auctioned off at a Paws on Parade Auction, with bids beginning at $2000. The auction will likely take place in November. Approximately 50 dogs are now on display throughout the city, with the goal of reaching a full 100 bead dogs ‘on parade.’ The LA SPCA has put together a Flickr slideshow of the bead dogs that have been placed in and around town.
For those who would like to help support the project (and even have a little piece of it) without such a hefty price tag, bead dog ornaments are still available for sale through the LA SPCA web site. In addition, a coffee table book is planned as a later stage of the project.
The bead dogs were cast using a mold donated by Haydel’s Bakery in Metairie. Though they do not offer vegan goods, Haydel’s is a proud sponsor of the project, and has adopted its signature Mardi Gras Bead Dog as its mascot.