Government gathers to address animal control concerns

St. Landry Animal Control & Rescue
Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 23, 2023

OPELOUSAS, L.a. — Changes are coming to St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter according to parish government officials who gathered Monday morning to address the community's rising concerns over animal control.

It comes amid ongoing animal cruelty investigations.

Parish President Jessie Bellard said these changes start with the continued search for a new shelter director.

"It's just sad that we can't get the right people for the job but this morning's interview went very well," he said at the press conference held in the parish courthouse Monday. "And that person understands our position and loves a challenge."

A challenge Bellard noted comes after widespread residents' concern surrounding the treatment and quality of life for these animals. According to detectives, 28 misdemeanor charges have already been filed parish-wide since 2022, along with two felony charges — all for animal cruelty.

Beyond partnering with the Bissell Pet Foundation for staffing and monetary support, Bellard said the parish plans to implement a "diversion intake." This would include asking for the community's help in getting pets back home, while also encouraging the spaying, neutering, and microchipping of animals.

"I think that's the main thing here to focus on the animals because all the drama and all of the Facebook posts really take away from what's important here," said Dr. Kim Sanders, who works at the shelter currently as a contracted employee through Bissell. "That's working together as a community to help the pet overpopulation issue here in St. Landry Parish."

KATC followed Dr. Sanders back to the shelter where we met Katelyn Gibbons, a vet tech from Michigan working there, also contracted through Bissell. While many animals have a temporary home at the shelter, she told KATC that dogs are the most overpopulated.

"These dogs are well cared for, they're happy, they're personable, they're highly adoptable and unfortunately, they've just been looked over," Gibbons said. "Which is kind of a struggle in shelters everywhere."

That's where Gibbons said Bellard and Bissell come into play. Bellard said he is set to meet with Cathy Bissell, founder of the Bissell Pet Foundation next Tuesday. That's where Spring dates for a parish-wide microchipping and vaccination clinic will be finalized.

Even more long-term, Bellard told KATC he plans to find a better location for the shelter which is currently next door to the parish's airport.

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