Livingston animal shelter rethinking procedures

The Livingston Parish Animal Control Advisory Committee on Monday began the task of rethinking the Livingston animal shelter’s standard operating procedures to prepare for eventual parishwide operations.

The six-member committee appointed by the Parish Council held a wide-ranging discussion during its second meeting, touching on euthanasia and disposal practices, employee certification, coordination with the Sheriff’s Office and the need to draft policies in tandem with parish ordinances to make the policies legally enforceable.

Committee Chairman Norman Clark, a former East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office dispatcher and animal control officer, said the group should focus on creating a set of operating procedures for the shelter in stages.

The operation focuses primarily on vicious dogs, cruelty cases and taking in strays for the town of Livingston only, which donated the land on which the facility was built.

Shifting to a parishwide animal control program will take a few years of planning and revenue building, with the facility adding equipment and staff along the way, Clark said.

“We need to see about writing procedures for them for a two-year plan, a five-year plan and so on,” Clark said. “If we truly want the shelter to be able to handle dogs, cats, microchipping and so forth, that’s not something we’re going to be able to get funding for all at once.”

Clark suggested using Tangipahoa Parish’s animal control operating procedures as a guide, along with input from the Livingston shelter staff.

But other committee members said the Tangipahoa operation has more funding and a larger staff, making its procedures potentially unworkable for Livingston.

Committee member Terri Dunlap, president of the Livingston SPCA, said an early focus should be on requiring animal identification tags both to help identify “troublemaker dogs” and to set up a recurring revenue stream.

“I think the first thing out of the gate is to mandate having a rabies tag, even if it means associating a big fine with it,” Dunlap said.

The Sheriff’s Office would have to issue the citation or commission an animal control officer to do so, Clark said.

“We would have to discuss with Sheriff (Jason) Ard whether he’ll commission them to allow them to write citations without having to call out a deputy every time they want to give a misdemeanor summons,” he said.

Violators of the state’s leash law already can be fined by the Sheriff’s Office, said Desiree Green, the shelter’s acting director. But those funds are not directed back to the parish’s animal control operations, she said.