Shelter decisions debated

Members of the Parish Animal Control’s Policy and Procedure Subcommittee made little headway in developing new policies and procedures to run the parish’s animal shelter at a meeting Monday.

After looking at the policies and procedures being used by shelter employees, Randy Stegall recommended the committee limit the amount of time an animal can be kept in the shelter up to six weeks before it is euthanized.

Some dogs have been at the shelter for up to seven months, said Desiree Green, acting director of the shelter.

But committee members could not agree to place a time limit on shelter animals before they are euthanized.

While Stegall and Terri Dunlap agreed a time limit was necessary to keep the numbers at the shelter down and to keep diseases from possibly spreading to healthy animals, other subcommittee members said that six weeks wasn’t long enough for a dog to find a home.

“We don’t have the ‘froo froo’ dogs here,” Green said. “I don’t think six weeks is long enough.”

The subcommittee did agree that an initial decision should be made after five days to determine if a pet is adoptable or should be euthanized at that point.

“This will give us time to decide if the animal needs to be euthanized or put up for adoption,” Stegall said.

Not making an early decision, he said, may put a shelter worker in danger of being harmed by a vicious animal.

Dunlap asked Green what justifies euthanasia.

Green said the “unwritten” rule is that she and two other shelter employees must agree that a dog needs to be euthanized but that no certain criteria are followed.

“This should be done by the shelter director, but we don’t have one,” Stegall said.

Stegall, a certified evaluator on adoptions and euthanasia, said he offered to help shelter workers make that decision, but “that didn’t go over very well.

“We need a professional to make that decision. Someone without their heart and feelings getting in the way.

“It shouldn’t be a shelter worker because their heart is in it.”

Dunlap, who is also a certified evaluator, asked other committee members to consider asking an unbiased party to help shelter workers determine if an animal must be put down.

“In creating the policies and procedures, committee members also will have to decide if they want to limit the number of animals the shelter takes in, choose correct policies for caring for the housed animals and determine other key factors in running an animal shelter.

Dunlap recommended that committee members select policies and procedures from well-operated shelters and then use those as guidelines for the ones they are developing for Livingston Parish.

Members of the Parish Animal Control’s Policy and Procedure subcommittee have 60 days to finalize policies and procedures before bringing them to the Livingston Parish Council for approval.

The subcommittee’s original members — Stegall, Dunlap, Kym Felder and Theresa Rowell were joined Monday by two new members — Green and Mary Kistler, executive assistant to Parish President Layton Ricks.

Livingston Parish Animal Shelter/Control Advisory Committee Chairwoman Maurice Durbin said she appointed the two additional committee members.

The committee was formed to help determine how long an animal can stay at the shelter, which ones get to stay and other key components that will ultimately determine how much money the parish will need to run the parishwide shelter.

Late last year, the Parish Council briefly discussed putting on a parishwide ballot a 3-mill property tax to pay for animal control, but the council has taken no action.

The shelter, located in Livingston, is undergoing an expansion.