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Story Archives: Throwing a bone
|Throwing a bone|
As government watchdogs —no pun intended—we newspaper people are sometimes rough on elected officials when there's a problem. That's especially true when those in power don't accept blame and work to correct the problem.
That's our charge and what good would we be if we just turned our head and didn't hold people in government's feet to the fire? That being said, we should also throw them a bone —OK, pun intended that time—when they do something right. I'm pleased to see that officials at the helm of Winnsboro city government are working to correct a big problem at the Winnsboro animal shelter.
A few weeks ago, a concerned citizen alerted us that some bad things were happening there, so we investigated and discovered that he was right. To say the least, things were very wrong at the Winnsboro animal shelter.
There was no food and water for dogs in pens, which were filled with feces, and one poor former pooch had been eaten in half by other dogs. It didn't seem at the time that the story could get much worse, but I was wrong.
When I contacted those in charge of making sure dogs that are picked up and kept by the city until they are transferred to shelters in Ouachita Parish are properly cared for, I was floored by what I was told.
It was suggested to me that the half-dog had gotten that way because someone had broken into the pen —which was chained and pad-locked— and cut the dog in half.
I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I could see that that explanation was filled with the same stuff that covered the bottom of the dog pens, which hadn't been cleaned in days.
I was told no one had checked on the dogs in three days.
Leaving the dogs alone for so long and not giving them food and water is against the law, as well as being just plain wrong.
Mistreatment of animals at the shelter has obviously been going on for a while, but that doesn't make it right. I was pleased to see how much interest and feedback I have gotten from citizens, near and far, about the stories and columns I have written on the animal shelter.
I was also pleased when I went to see Winnsboro Interim Mayor Sonny Dumas last Friday and he showed me plans he has been working on to make things better.
Dumas showed me plans for a new dog shelter that he said would soon be built.
The new animal shelter would include six covered outdoor pens, instead of the current two, that would open to a fenced in yard for the dogs. There are also plans to equip them with automated watering systems and semi-automated feeders. Dumas told me that there are also plans to build separate areas to house puppies and cats.
Besides the proposed changes, things are already getting better at the shelter. Animals are no longer left alone on weekends and new automated water systems are already being used there.
New rules are in place and employees are keeping better records on animals. I've been told Winnsboro City Hall employees are also helping the police department field calls on animals.
All of this is good news that the city is doing the right thing, so kudos— or should that be "Cujos" —to Dumas and other Winnsboro officials who are working on this problem.
This story is a long way from over, however.
Sometimes those in charge will only continue to do the right thing as long as someone is watching, so we will keep watching and I'm sure so will a lot of other people.
That's what watchdogs do.