Mark Ballard: Stray dogs and cats overwhelm Louisiana’s anemic efforts to care for them | Marc Ballard


“Well, then, 1,2,3, we’re adjourned.”

Not quite the process and wording of Robert’s Rules of Order, which governs the conduct of official meetings. But the group of ordinary people who for the past two decades have advised the Legislative Assembly and the Governor on pet overpopulation are unfamiliar with the restrictions of proper protocols for an official government agency.

Mistakes and comedy aside, President Jeff Dorson said the Animal Overpopulation Advisory Council faces a funding crisis that must be resolved.

The nine-member council is one of hundreds of such councils that inform public policy – ​​from marketing strawberries to recommending which voting machines the state should buy, to reviewing the demands of small towns to fix their drinking water systems and to decide how much homeowners pay utility companies to get the lights back on after a storm.

Formed in 2002 by former Lieutenant Governor Melinda Schwegmann when she was still at Louisiana House, the council’s charge is to promote low-cost neutering and neutering of dogs and cats by distributing grants to local clinics that cover the costs of the procedure. it can cost up to $500. The goal is to encourage pet owners to do so.

About 100,000 abandoned dogs and cats are on the loose across the state, estimated Dorson, who also runs the Humane Society of Louisiana. The idea is to depopulate animals and avoid simply killing renegades like Romania passed a law in the 1990s after the fall of communism, when packs of dogs attacked children in Bucharest parks. Athens has been accused of doing the same to clean up the city ahead of the 2004 Olympics in Greece.

In Louisiana, only 33 of 64 parishes have animal control departments, Dorson said that stray pickups and former pets are routinely abandoned at rest areas on highways, along river levees and in affluent neighborhoods, like the Baton Rouge garden. District. Elsewhere, wild animals are allowed to roam freely and procreate.

“This state is in crisis without paying attention to it,” Dorson said. “It’s hard to get lawmakers’ attention to pet overpopulation” when so many other issues need attention.

The Animal Overpopulation Advisory Council is funded by the sale of “Animal Friendly” vehicle license plates featuring a cartoon dog and cat, whose council receives $50 each. The problem is that only 1,250 license plates have been sold since 2007, according to the Office of Motor Vehicles. (OMV has sold 36,074 Super Bowl Champion Saints plates since 2010.) They sell enough “Animal Friendly” plates to raise about $25,000 a year to distribute, Dorson said.

The board can give out maybe a dozen grants of $1,000 to $3,000, which can neuter somewhere around 750 animals.

“We’ve been pretty anemic,” Dorson said. “We need to sell more plates. We need to improve our profile and get more money (from donations) so that we are not so dependent on this revenue stream which has not done too well over the past couple of years.

One idea was to publicize a $500 prize for drivers with an “Animal Friendly” license plate. They would go around, take a picture, then let the driver know they had won.

Well, except the state can’t legally identify vehicle owners in this way for this purpose.

OK, OK, how about leaving a note under the windshield wiper of the vehicle, said someone who was not identified, as is required in government meetings, and whose microphone was not not turned on because Dorson did not know how to operate the system in the Chamber hearing room.

“It’s an incentive to buy the tag with the potential that they would do their daily activities and…”

“And a stranger puts a note on their car,” Dorson said.

“He says ‘you won $500!'”

“I would call 911,” Dorson said.

Perhaps the image on the plate could be updated from the smiling dog and cat that were drawn and adopted 20 years ago? Except the council would have to buy back the remaining plates and press new ones – costs far beyond its means.

Another proposed plan was to develop a brochure or some sort of card or flyer to hand out at pet adoption fairs, marathons, and other events.

“We need a graphic, something easy to distribute to people,” said one panelist.

A board member was tasked with determining the costs of hiring an artist to design and print the document.

Dorson said the board will decide Oct. 19 when it will meet to award grants for the coming year.


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