Letter: Shelter deserves more funding

I have served on the board of directors of the Companion Animal Alliance since its inception. During this time, it has been a privilege to work with some of the most-dedicated individuals who hold animal welfare deep in their hearts.

When the CAA first assumed operation of the Baton Rouge Animal Control and Rescue shelter, we carried the hopes and dreams of a large segment of the community. Prior to the transition, the BRAC&R fulfilled its mandate from the city/parish; however, the focus on adoption, foster and rescue was limited and the euthanasia number and rate were high.

Since the CAA assumed operation of the shelter, the number of animals adopted, rescued, transported and fostered has increased dramatically. Over 400 volunteers have worked in the CAA shelter in the last 12 months — all to make it a better place.

Numerous stop-gap and permanent repairs have been made to the shelter’s physical plant, where environmental conditions were untenable. Numerous animal-welfare groups have assisted with adoption days and events to save animals from euthanasia.

Fundraising efforts to support CAA have been valiant, with tremendous community response, including two CAA-organized Fur Balls that were a resounding financial success. In addition, after a national search, the CAA has recruited an experienced shelter director with a clear vision for our future. And yet we fall short.

Several barriers prevent smooth shelter operation, but the constant overriding issue is inadequate funding because of the size of our community and the massive number of animals taken in every day.

The CAA currently receives less than 50 percent of the accepted minimum funding for U.S. shelters, based on the population of East Baton Rouge Parish.

The CAA inherited a shelter with a high-volume, high euthanasia rate, and its long-term goal of “no-kill” raised unrealistic expectations. The mistaken notion that “no-kill” could be achieved by declaration rather than the end result of a lot of hard work over time has not served the CAA shelter well and, unfortunately, has led to serious disillusionment among many volunteers who perceived a more-immediate resolution of the high animal euthanasia rate. Building a robust adoption program takes time.

So many resources have been applied to support the CAA endeavor, and so many community leaders are on board. It would be shameful to fail to take advantage of this opportunity we have leveraged because of inadequate base funding. We owe it to the animals; we owe it to our sense of pride in our community; and we owe it to our own humanity.

David Senior, associate dean

for advancement and strategic initiatives

LSU School of Veterinary Medicine

Baton Rouge