The Humane Society of Louisiana (HSLA) will be urging lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session to earmark funds to construct new animal shelters and renovate existing ones. The group has been campaigning to improve the state’s animal sheltering infrastructure for more than 35 years and has documented the need to provide more funding to support public animal shelters. A report published by the State Legislative Auditor’s Office reached a similar conclusion. Its 58-page report, published and distributed in 2021, details the need for the state to become more active on the local level and provide more resources. A copy of the report can be read here:
The State of Louisiana’s Role in Animal Welfare and Control Activities.
According to HSLA, more than 30 of the state’s 64 parishes lack parish-wide facilities, which leaves millions of residents without basic animal control services and contributes to stray animals breeding indiscriminately, living on the streets and back roads trying to survive.
“The majority of our rural parishes, including Avoyelles, Bienville, Evangeline, Catahoula, E. Feliciana, Franklin, Livingston, St. Helena, St. James, Caldwell, Red River, Union, and more than a dozen other parishes, have no means to pick up or house stray animals,” HSLA Director Jeff Dorson said.
“Animal control is an essential service, much like police and fire protection. So, imagine half of our state operating without even basic services. This means that there is no agency to call if an animal is in distress, lost, found, or injured. We simply have to do better.”
Rural administrators say that there is no money to build or maintain shelters, so HSLA has been meeting with state officials to establish a Shelter Construction and Repair Fund. The idea is not new. New York lawmakers have been distributing millions of dollars each year through its Companion Animal Capital Projects Fund to public and private shelters for the past several years. This year, Governor Hochul announced that more than $7 million would be distributed to eligible shelters to renovate and improve existing shelters.
The Humane Society is asking Governor Edwards and legislators to set aside $3 million for Louisiana’s newly-created program, which would be administered under the La. Dept. of Agriculture’s Animal Control Advisory Task Force (https://lacatf.la.gov/). Members of the Task Force inspect public shelters at least once a year and encourage them to comply with best practices and accepted industry standards—both structurally and operationally. The $3 million could be distributed as grants of up to $100,000 to eligible parishes and municipalities.
“The need to build new shelters and upgrade existing shelters is greatly needed and much overdue,” Dorson said. “We are grateful, however, that the LDAF and the Governor’s Office readily agree with that assessment and see the need to fund this new program. Our job will be to ensure that these funds are included in a supplemental appropriations bill and remain in place during the legislative session until it is signed into law by the governor.”
This year’s legislative session starts April 10.
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