Is it enough?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 29, 2009



LAPLACE – Although St. John Parish officials say the opening of the parish’s new animal shelter is a tremendous step in the right direction, some animal activists are wondering if the move was enough.

Melanie Manning, a River Ridge resident who rescues animals from shelters and helps them find homes, expressed concerns over the size and design of the new shelter and wonders if it is enough to handle the number of animals that make their way to the shelter.

“Although it looks much nicer than the previous shelter, I wonder why there is only enough room for maybe 15 more dogs and 10 to 15 cats,” said Manning. “I’ve helped rescue hundreds of dogs from this shelter. I just have some questions about whether they had done enough with this new building.”

Manning also cited what she called “major design flaws” in the dog kennels at the new facility. She said all of the dog runs are separated by chain link fence when they should have been separated by cement walls.

“If a dog gets sick in the kennel it could trickle over into the next one and come in contact with another healthy dog,” Manning said. “Concrete walls would help keep the sickness contained.”

St. John spokesman Buddy Boe said in designing the new shelter facility, parish officials took tours of the Jefferson Parish animal shelter as well as an SPCA shelter in Metairie. He said representatives from the American SPCA and Louisiana SPCA looked at the plans and gave their approval.

“The SPCA had no issue with anything we planned to do with the new building,” Boe said. “The kennels have adequate drainage and protection and everyone on the project was more than satisfied with the work that was done.”

Boe said the new building is just phase one of a two-phase shelter project. He said the parish was bound by budget constraints and could not move on both phases simultaneously.

“This new building is a $750,000 investment in the future of our animal control facilities,” Boe said. “Could we have waited for more money to become available, yes we could have, but we decided that phase one was enough to give us something that people could comfortably come to visit and be more likely to adopt an animal. We built phase one with phase two in mind.”

Boe said there is no timetable for the second phase of the project, which would further expand kennel space. He said various community groups have been holding fundraisers to help the parish get to the next step in the process. One such fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 23 at Bull’s Corner Restaurant.

“We understand that this building is not the ‘holy grail’ of animal shelters,” Boe said. “But it is a nice step in the right direction compared to what we had here in the past.”