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Story Archives: Johnson unveils facility plan
|Johnson unveils facility plan|
Mayor Jackie Johnson would like Winnsboro to purchase a state-of-the-art animal shelter to take the place of the one that has involved city officials in a criminal investigation by the Louisiana State Police.
The facility, which would cost $14,000, is equipped to house as many as 32 animals in 7-foot by 3-foot in-door, climate controlled pens that partly open to the outside. The pens, which could be modified to house larger animals, have automated feeding and watering systems and a bin to catch waste that could be fashioned to empty into the city's sewage system.
The facility, which originally cost $25,000, was purchased from Missouri-based Hunte Corp. and would be sold to the city by Allen Butler, a local dog breeder. Butler previously used the facility to house Yorkshire Terriers.
Johnson said funding the facility would either come from $90,000 budgeted by the city to cover administrative costs or from amending the 2010-2011 budget, which was approved by Winnsboro City Council in June.
Johnson's plan must first be approved by the council and he said he would officially present the plan during this month's regular meeting on July 19.
He said he would like for the shelter to be placed in one of two empty lots adjacent to the police department.
"If we put it there, we will see it everyday and there will be less of a chance that it will be neglected. There are some who are in favor of putting it out in the industrial park, which I think is unacceptable," Johnson said.
The animal shelter, which is currently located in an obscure location off Robinson Road, was first brought under scrutiny in May after dogs at the shelter were discovered by Franklin Sun reporters to have been left unattended during the last weekend of March.
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.
A criminal investigation into the shelter was launched after Jeff Dorson, the executive director of the New Orleans-based Humane Society of Louisiana, became involved in the matter and sent a letter to Franklin Parish Sheriff Steve Pylant.
The letter prompted FPSO to send a request to the Louisiana State Police to probe allegations that city officials violated state laws mandating shelter operations.
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.
The state's anti-cruelty statutes carry a possible penalty of a $1,000 and six months in imprisonment or both.
Dorson inspected the shelter in June with Johnson, as he was preparing to assume office. Johnson was sworn in as mayor on July 1 after being elected on May 1.
After inspecting the facility, Dorson told Johnson that the shelter need to be shut down and that the city should build a new one to house stray cats and dogs. Johnson promised him that he would work to do so.
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 Thursday that he is happy that Winnsboro's new mayor is keeping his promise by working on plans for a new facility.
"How refreshing it is that an elected official has kept his promise and actually exceeded our expectations," he said. "We salute the mayor and look forward to a long-lasting partnership."
Johnson also told Dorson that he would also work to create a position for a full-time animal control officer for the city.
Johnson said Thursday that he plans to keep that promise as well and promote Russell Grant, the city's part-time animal control officer, to a salaried full time position. Grant's new title would be called director of animal affairs and would pay $24,000 a year.
Like the shelter, Johnson wants to draw the money to pay grant from administrative costs or by a budget amendment and he plans to present the matter to the council at the July 19 meeting.