PORT ALLEN — The special election to select a new mayor for the city of Port Allen generated yet more controversy Thursday when one of the four candidates in the April 5 race was arrested and jailed in the mistreatment of animals.
Authorities said Larry Bell, 63, had been issued multiple warnings — written and verbal — about the undernourished appearance of his horses before he was taken into custody Thursday by the parish’s Animal Control division.
“We were just getting multiple complaints about the horses from people who were driving by and seeing them looking malnourished,” said Richard Summers, superintendent of West Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control. “Arresting him wasn’t something we wanted to do but what other choice did we have?”
Bell, 932 Avenue A, was booked Thursday into the parish jail on charges of cruelty to animals and on a bench warrant for having an animal at large.
Summers said the emaciated horses were located on property Bell owned on Lafiton Lane in Port Allen.
The complaints about the horses date as far back as 2012, Summers said.
“We took two horses into our care back in 2012,” he said. “The complaints started up again in August of last year. We were trying to work with him, but we had to move to this next step.”
Bell was sitting in jail Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Bell qualified for the Port Allen mayoral race on Feb. 14 along with four other candidates.
The April 5 special election is being held in the wake of the recall in November of former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter. As of Friday, four candidates remained in the race, including Bell.
Leon Goudeau Jr. dropped out of the race shortly after qualifying, so his name will not appear on the ballot. The other candidates are retired law enforcement officer Richard Lee, retired teacher Kirby Anderson and Slaughter.
Early voting for the race will begin on March 22 at the Registrar of Voters Office.