St. Landry council calls for audit of parish animal shelter

The St. Landry Parish Council is asking the state Legislative Auditor’s Office to perform a three-year financial audit of the parish animal shelter.

Council member Wayne Ardoin said parish government has spent heavily over the past year to improve conditions at the facility, located at the St. Landry Airport northwest of Opelousas.

“I think this council needs to know if there is a clean audit or if there are any deficiencies. Let us clear the air over the issue,” Ardoin said.

The matter passed Wednesday by a 10-2 vote. Council members Jerry Red Jr. and Leon Robinson voted “no,” but neither council member provided a reason for his vote.

Earlier this year, Parish President Bill Fontenot said parish government has spent about $100,000 to construct larger cages for small animals and make other improvements to improve sanitary conditions.

Fontenot also said individuals provided cash donations of just over $1,000.

Interest in the operation of the shelter has increased since January, when a group of volunteers formed Friends Underwriting Rescues. Members of the organization have visited the shelter since then and organized efforts to improve conditions for the animals.

FUR also has instituted pet adoption days, something that was not being done by employees who worked at the shelter.

In a report to the council several months ago, FUR representatives told the council that when they first initiated efforts at the shelter, the conditions were filthy, with animals held in cramped cages and lying in their urine and feces.

The FUR representatives also said workers at the shelter were rude to them and took little interest in the care of the animals.

At the last council meeting, Fontenot said he was creating a policy for volunteers that requires them to register before working at the shelter. He said the new policy was in response to criticisms about him by individuals posting messages on social media sites.

In another matter, the council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance outlining parish licensing requirements for mental health centers, halfway houses, nursing homes, general hospitals, detoxification centers and substance abuse clinics.

The ordinance is in response to the proposed establishment of a drug addiction facility in a rural residential area near Sunset.

Residents who live near Choctaw Road off the Interstate 49 service road have appeared before the council to voice their opposition to the proposed location of the Acadiana Addiction Center in a home in that neighborhood.

Under the ordinance approved Wednesday, applications for facilities similar to Acadiana Addiction Center would require the assent of 75 percent of the residents living within 1,000 feet of the proposed centers.

The ordinance also requires a review by the council and the council’s final approval.

At the public hearing held before the vote, several individuals living in the Choctaw Road area spoke against locating the center in their neighborhood.

Former parish government legal adviser Jack Burson, who spoke in favor of the ordinance, said it was not created to prohibit businesses from operating in St. Landry.

Burson said businesses should be located in what he called “the right places” and should not destroy a neighborhood.

No one representing the addiction center spoke at either the meeting or the public hearing.