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Story Archives: La. Humane Society says shelter should close
|La. Humane Society says shelter should close|
Winnsboro's animal shelter needs to be shut down and the city should build a new facility to house stray cats and dogs, according to Humane Society of Louisiana Executive Director Jeff Dorson.
"I found it to be a deplorable holding pen that really never should have been put to use. It's not conducive to housing animals in a humane way. Unfortunately, I have seen loads of these kinds of outdoor shelters in rural areas that are hid away. Winnsboro needs to hit the reset button and start over," said Dorson, after inspecting the shelter off Robinson Road last Tuesday with Winnsboro Mayor-elect Jackie Johnson.
Dorson, whose office is in New Orleans, said he has been following news stories about the city's problems concerning the shelter in The Franklin Sun and felt it was time to get a first-hand look at the facility.
A letter from Dorson sent to Franklin Parish Sheriff Steve Pylant in May prompted a criminal investigation of city officials.
FPSO requested that the Louisiana State Police initiate a formal investigation after Pylant received the letter, in which Dorson asked that the city be probed for violating state laws mandating shelter operations.
Some of the problems that Dorson found with the shelter included no separation between pens, the shelter's location in a remote location with sparse supervision and no place to house cats at the facility.
Dorson said he would like to work with Winnsboro in two phases to improve the shelter.
The first should include new pens and round-the-clock super vision, he said. Dorson would like for Winnsboro to eventually place stray animals in an enclosed facility in the second phase.
Johnson, who will take office on July 1, said working with Dorson to improve shelter condition is a "very, very high priority" that he plans to tackle soon after becoming mayor.
He said he is not sure if closing the shelter at this time would be a good idea, because Winnsboro has no other place to keep stray animals. He said, however, that he would eventually like to find a new location for an improved shelter. He estimates a new animal shelter could be built by the city for $2,000 to $3,000.
Johnson said he would also work to create a position for a full-time animal control officer for the city. Currently, Winnsboro's animal control officer is employed part-time.
"This is the last time we will be caught sleeping in the welfare of the animals that we house at our shelter," Johnson said.
In May, dogs at the shelter were discovered by Franklin Sun reporters to have been left unattended during the last weekend of March.
The Franklin Sun revealed the animals, kept in outdoor pens, were without food and water and apparently had been eating the carcass of a dog. Half of a dog carcass was found in one pen, which housed four other animals. The pen was filled with feces.
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's Interim-Mayor John "Sonny" Dumas Jr. was invited to inspect the animal shelter with Dorson and Johnson, but declined, citing his involvement in the State Police investigation as his reason for not attending.
Tentative plans for the new animal shelter presented by Dumas in April included six separate 4-foot by 6-foot, covered outdoor pens that would open to a fenced-in yard for dogs, as well as separate areas to house puppies and cats.
The planned animal pens included automated watering systems and semi-automated feeders.
Dumas said that he couldn't speak about the city's progress on the new shelter because of the investigation.
After leaving Winnsboro, Dorson held a town hall-styled meeting at the Ouachita Parish Fire Dept. in West Monroe to discuss the problems at animal shelters in Winnsboro and Jonesboro.
A Jonesboro animal control officer was arrested in May and charged with animal cruelty, obstructing justice and trespassing. Law enforcement officials said he was catching dogs by placing poisoned dog food on streets.