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New law provides for more animal shelter oversight

9 months 6 days 10 hours ago June 17, 2016 Jun 17, 2016 Friday, June 17 2016 June 17, 2016 1:41 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
Image: Human Society of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS - New legislation will require publicly funded animal shelters in the state to register with the animal welfare officials in an effort to identify areas in the state where more animal assistance is needed.

The law, which passed with amendments, was brought about because the Humane Society has observed a high number of animal shelters that are substandard and sometimes fail to provide basic services for the animals in their care.

This is most common in rural areas, where the Humane Society says shelters are often limited to a single row of cages at the edge of town. Half of the state’s 64 parishes do not have a single sheltering facility for stray or unwanted pets. Greater oversight and support will now be available to affected shelters with the passage of the bill.

Prior to the legislation’s passage, the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission (LAWC) has been tasked with inspecting publicly funded shelters to ensure their compliance with structural guidelines and basic duties.

Realizing more needs to done in terms of shelter compliance, the Humane Society introduced Senate Bill 216 with the help of Sen. Troy Carter.  The bill asks shelters to register with the LAWC and submit contact information and annual reports on the number of animals house, euthanized adopted or returned by owners. The statistics generated will help all relevant agencies identify problem areas and respond by shifting resources to where they are most needed. The final bill can be read by clicking here.

"During the past 25 years, I have visited more than 100 shelters in our state and Mississippi and I have seen both outstanding efforts by hard working shelter personnel and deplorable conditions that constitute cruelty to animals. In fact, our group filed suit against three separate government entities during this time period - Vermilion Parish, the Town of Franklinton and Plaquemines Parish - for violating either sections of the animal cruelty statutes or accepted industry standards.  However, our partnership with LAWC will only strengthen our mutual resolve to help shelters properly care for their impounded animals," says Jeff Dorson, HSL Director.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed SB 216 into law on Friday.

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