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Animal ordinance causing issues for shelter, St. Martinville police

Posted at 10:34 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 23:39:33-05

The animal control overcrowding is causing problems for the St. Martinville Police Department.

Police are supposed to seize stray dogs and dogs considered to be dangerous.

Under the city ordinance, all pit bulls are deemed a vicious breed.

“Aggressive” dogs must be chipped, kept in a kennel, and the owner must have a $100,000 liability insurance policy on the dog. Any dogs in violation, which occurs often because of the strict legislation, are supposed to be seized by police.

“The shelter is limited on kennel space because the animals have to be stored inside of the building,” said Police Chief Ricky Martin.

He said enforcing animal control laws is becoming a problem for his officers.

Because of overcrowding at the parish animal control center, his officers can’t seize so-called “aggressive” dogs or strays.

Since this issue began in December, there have been two dog bites where they’ve had to pick up the dogs and hand them over to the animal shelter for quarantine, according to Chief Martin. However, because of the high volume of animals coming from the city, all other violations that are not as urgent can only result in citations.

“Just like law enforcement has to deal with their jails that are at capacity, sometimes we have to sit back and take only the most vicious or severe cases of animal abuse or animal attacks,” said St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars.

In the past year, there have been 72 animal complaints in the city.

Cedars said this is becoming a burden for animal control.

“In order to address this problem, other stake holders [like the municipalities] in animal control are going to have to step up and assist us in terms of financing the operation of the shelter, which certainly might have to include expansion,” said Cedars.

Now, the chief said he’s pushing for some changes to the ordinance, including removing the language declaring all pit bulls “aggressive.”

“We’re going to have to come up with a solution. There has to be a solution to this. At the time, the ordinance was written, which was close to 20 years ago, the ordinance was written because the city was having issues with dog fighting, and it’s not necessarily just pit bulls. I think pit bulls are getting an unfair shake because it’s how the dog is raised, and it’s how the dog is trained,” said Chief Martin.