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Story Archives: Winnsboro plans new animal shelter
|Winnsboro plans new animal shelter|
Winnsboro city workers are expected to soon begin construction on a new animal shelter to replace the one on Robinson Road.
Conditions at the current shelter have ignited a firestorm of controversy concerning the treatment of dogs at the facility.
The city has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after it was discovered that dogs housed in outdoor pens at the shelter were being neglected, prompting the Humane Society of Louisiana to launch an investigation.
The dogs, found at the shelter on March 29 by Franklin Sun reporters, were without food or water and had been feeding off the carcass of another dog in a pen that, apparently, had not been cleaned in days.
City officials said the dogs had been left unattended over the weekend.
"It was a total surprise. I didn't know it was in that bad of a condition, but we are taking steps to secure the (shelter) we have and we will soon build a new shelter," said Winnsboro Interim Mayor John "Sonny" Dumas Jr.
Dumas said an undisclosed site for the new shelter has been chosen and he expects construction to start in about two weeks.
Tentative plans for the new animal shelter include six separate 4-foot by 6-foot, covered outdoor pens that would open to a fenced-in yard for the dogs.
Dumas said the new pens would have automated watering systems and semi-automated feeders.
There are also plans to build separate areas to house puppies and cats, he said.
Currently, dogs are housed in two pens and cats at the shelter are kept in carrying cages.
Louisiana law concerning animal shelters mandates that "All dogs over three months of age shall be fed at least once daily; providing at least one-half pound of food per twenty-five pounds of body-weight per dog. All dogs under three months shall have appropriate dry food available at all times or be fed a minimum of three times per day" and "clean, fresh water shall be available at all times for all animals."
The law further states "Any dead animals shall be removed from kennel area and immediately and properly disposed of," and that enclosures should be cleaned daily.
Winnsboro law penalizes residents who don't keep dog pens cleaned daily with fines and court costs.
There have already been changes made at the shelter since a story ran concerning the treatment of animals there in the March 31 issue of The Franklin Sun, including an automated watering system and weekend supervision for animals.
Winnsboro City Hall is now fielding calls concerning missing and stray animals, a task that used to be handled only by the Winnsboro Police Department.
Shelter workers also must now fill out a daily check list including details of the number of dogs in the facility, quantity of food and fresh water, records of dogs that die at the shelter and description of dogs transported to shelters in Ouachita Parish.
Animals are usually kept at the Winnsboro shelter five days before being transported to larger shelters in Ouachita Parish.
To keep costs low, the shelter would either be built with materials the city already has on hand or that would be donated by local business and residents, officials said.
"People are offering donations and dog food and have been very receptive to our efforts," Dumas said. "Any help from the public would be appreciated."
Dumas said the city needs building supplies such as concrete and fencing to help in constructing the proposed shelter.
Despite the city's efforts to correct the problem, the Humane Society is pushing ahead to make sure that prior mistreatment of animals isn't "swept under the rug," said Jeff Dorson, executive director of the local chapter of the organization.
Humane Society officials said that they have interviewed a witness concerning the treatment of the dogs at the shelter and are planning a meeting in Winnsboro about the matter.
Kevin Cobb, of the Franklin Parish Sheriff's Office, said parish law enforcement would most likely turn the matter over to the Louisiana State Police if they are asked to get involved.
Those who would like to adopt shelter animals in Winnsboro or donate materials for the new animal shelter can do so by calling the police department at 435-4307 or Winnsboro City Hall at 435-9087.