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NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION CREATED IN RESPONSE
TO CONDITIONS AT WINNSBORO SHELTER
Citizens concerned about the treatment of dogs at Winnsboro's animal shelter gathered Monday at the Princess Room for the first public meeting of a newly formed non-profit organization.
Members of the Franklin Animal Rescue say the organization was created to help animals after stories ran in The Franklin Sun about conditions at the shelter.
"This is not to make Winnsboro look bad or to point fingers at anyone. This is to lift the town back up and to do the right thing," said Ted Batey of the Franklin Animal Rescue.
In the March 31 issue of The Franklin Sun, a story ran about dogs discovered at the shelter without food or water that had been feeding off the carcass of another dog. City officials said the dogs had been left unattended for three days. The shelter had been cleaned a few hours after officials were questioned by reporters. A new automated water system has since been installed for shelter animals kept outside and city officials are working on plans to build a new shelter at an undisclosed location.
The Winnsboro Police Department is responsible for overseeing the animal shelter, where animals are housed for a short time before being transferred to larger facilities in North Louisiana.
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 25 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.
Some among the small group who attended the Franklin Animal Rescue meeting said they didn't even know Franklin Parish had an animal shelter before recent stories in The Franklin Sun.
"A lot of people weren't aware that there were even holding pens here. I didn't know it and I have lived here 17 years," said Loyce Williamson.
Franklin Animal Rescue said they would work to promote community awareness about the shelter, but their primary goal is making sure animals that are brought there find good homes.
Currently, members travel to West Monroe after dogs from the Winnsboro shelter are transferred and they foster the animals until they find them a home.
Members said they are trying to work out a system where the city of Winnsboro would turn the animals directly over to them after their holding time is up —usually five to seven days,— but haven't had much cooperation from the city.
"We have tried to talk to city officials to see if they would release the dogs to us instead of us having to drive to West Monroe," said Franklin Animal Rescue member Suzanne Laird.
"We would like to cut out the middleman, but so far we have gotten the run around.
Mayor candidates Ken Hill and Jackie Johnson, who will face each other in a run-off election on Saturday, attended the meeting. Both said they would like to work with with the organization to fix problems with way the city deals with animals should they become mayor.
"You look at the way I take care of my business and you can see things are run first rate. That's how an animal shelter would be run, if I have anything to do with it," Hill, whose Winnsboro businesses include Delta Glass and Trim, said.
Johnson said conditions at the animal shelter have "fallen through the cracks," but that would change if he were elected.
"This is an area that will be much more closely watched and an area that I will take a personal interest in should I become your mayor," Johnson told others at the meeting.
The Franklin Animals Rescue was able to collect around $750 in donations at the meeting, which members said will partly pay for what they have spent to rescue animals so far.
There is a $75 fee to adopt a pet from the organization, which covers having an animal spade or neutered, first set of shots, de-worming and a test for heart worms.
Those who would like to adopt animals from the Franklin Animal Rescue must sign an agreement that they will properly care for the animals.
To join or donate to the Franklin Animals Rescue, call 435-7992 or e-mail the organization at email@example.com