Happy about new animal shelter? YOU BET!!!!

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – St. John Animal Shelter employees breathed a sigh of relief eight years in the making Tuesday, 24 hours after the Parish Council unanimously approved a resolution to begin design and construction of new shelter facilities.

“It’s all we’ve talked about all day today,” said Shelter Manager Linda Allen. “We are absolutely excited and very pleased with everything that happened yesterday. [Parish President Bill] Hubbard is a man of his word, and we knew he would take care of us.”

Allen explained that throughout his campaign, and even after he was elected, Hubbard had made visits to the shelter’s facilities off River Road in LaPlace.

The shelter was a major platform of Hubbard’s campaign for office, as well as the topic for many of his political advertisements, so Allen was confident that Hubbard would not waste any time setting plans for the shelter into motion.

“I was really not surprised to see it on the first council meeting agenda,” said Allen. “I don’t like traveling to the West Bank, but I knew I had to be at that meeting to see what happens.”

Allen said the lengthy stalemate among the previous council about where and when to construct new facilities was very upsetting. She said it never made sense to her why certain council members wanted to move the shelter to land near St. John Airport in Reserve.

“This is where we had wanted to be all along,” said Allen. “We are glad Hubbard has the good business sense to keep [the shelter] where it is, and save the parish a lot of money. We would have liked a decision sooner, but we shouldn’t dwell on the past. It is time to move forward.”

Allen said since Hurricane Katrina, the population of animals kept at the shelter has doubled in size. At any given time, the shelter could be holding more than 50 dogs and just as many cats. Allen said those numbers go way beyond what the shelter can handle, and changes were desperately needed.

“For liability reasons, we cannot take these animals to pet stores unless they are spayed or neutered,” said Allen. “The parish just does not have the funds to ‘fix’ all of these animals. They are all good pets, and we want to see them in good homes.”

Allen said she hopes to see an initiative implemented that would fund spays and neuters for the animals, so that they can avoid euthanasia. She said Monday’s decision is a step in the right direction.

“It is a great day for the animals in this parish,” said Allen. “I feel good about the new administration.”

Once design is approved by the council, Hubbard said the parish will advertise for bids on construction, which will cost somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000. Hubbard said he hopes to have the new facility finished before the end of the year.