The parish’s top animal lover updated the parish council on the animal shelter, as she celebrated its triumphs and issuing a call for action on stricter animal abuse laws.

She also cited a big stray cat problem in lower Lafourche Parish, but commented the staff has begun grappling with the situation.

Betsy Magee, Chairwoman of the Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter Advisory Board, said the shelter garnered a total of $150,000 in grants, “and every cent was needed.”

The big grantees were the Petco Foundation for $91,000, and Pet Smart Charities for $45,000.

Magee said the Petco Foundation grant funded kennel improvements, while the Pet Smart grant funded the creation of a medical suite, and the purchase of equipment.

Some of the other grants garnered were: The Peltier Foundation, $5,000; the Pet Overpopulation Advisory Council, $3,500; the Maddie Fund, $500; and the Shelter Art Foundation, $500.

However, Magee made no bones about it, touting the shelter’s success thanks to is volunteers.

“Volunteers are working their tails off, and they’re a huge dedicated group of die hard animal lovers. Theirs is an on-going effort,” she said. “Our wonderful shelter manager Hilary Detillier, her staff and incredible team of volunteers made sure over 1,000 animals were adopted last year. And through our network connections, we’ve had animals going to places like Maine and Connecticut, and those are just to name a few thanks to partners like Hope for Animals and Hail Mary Rescue.”

Detillier also touted the process Lafourche uses in handling its animals, touting that they are sent to different places after being taken care of fully.

“Also, I’d like to note that all animals that are being adopted are spayed, neutered and vaccinated before they leave our shelter,” she said.

Magee, speaking to the council with a power point presentation, fired off statistics: any given day, 60 cats are waiting to be adopted; and 3,000 to 3,500 animals were surrendered to the shelter in 2018, through owners not wanting to care for their pets anymore, or animal control officers rounding them up.

“Hundreds of puppies and kittens are born each spring with no homes to call their own. Many of them are brought to the shelter that stays overcrowded year round,” she said.

To help reduce the number of unwanted pets, the parish initiated a low-cost spay/neuter program for its citizens.

“This helps tremendously, but doesn’t reach certain areas of the public, the poor, the elderly and those that are underserved, so they cannot afford it,” she said.

Magee also pointed to a huge problem with cats, especially in the lower part of the parish.

She said the shelter developed a community project to spay stray cats. She said grants from the Peltier Foundation and the Pet Overpopulation Advisory Council made it possible.

“This has been the only method of addressing the cat problem in the parish, that has been successful,” she said.

“Last year, we had a 300 decrease of cats that we took in. While you may think that’s great, we are still receiving a litter or two of kittens a day, at the shelter.”

One of the items on her wish list for this year, is a grassy area for dogs, saying that the shelter has 13 dog runs but, “no areas for dogs to run and feel the sunshine. If you’re a dog lover, than you know that’s important.”

She would also like to issue free micro chipping clinics throughout the parish; spay and neuter Pit Bull vouchers; and maybe get help from the parish to renovate the existing shelter.

“It is falling down around us,” she said.

Magee would also like better animal ordinances to reduce the abuse and neglect, and to prosecute offenders.

“The Lafourche Parish Animal Ordinances are a hodge-podge mess. A whole new set of ordinances needs to be adopted,” Magee said.

And, she would like to shift control of the animal warden from the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s office to the animal shelter, noting that the shelter has to pay $88,000 a year, from its budget.

Finally, she said the shelter is continuing its adopting outreaches with Petco, Pet Smart and now Petsense, the efforts of which are all by volunteers.

“Their incredible time and energy is so remarkable,” she said.

Before Magee closed her presentation, she said everyone has their fingers crossed to hire a part-time vet to spay and neuter the animals that they intake.

Councilman Craig Jaccuzzo was the only parish councilman to speak on an issue after Magee spoke, saying that he would consider supporting any of her recommendations to prevent animal abuse within the parish. •

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