New animal shelter director educates public

Microchipping, spaying, neutering important, Robert says

By Renee Allemand
Public Information Officer
St. Charles Parish

Angela Robert may work with animals every day, but she knows educating the human population is even more crucial. Robert, a certified animal control officer who was appointed St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter director in July 2007, says she and her staff inform citizens daily about responsible pet ownership.

But she also fights misinformation.

“It’s all about perception,” Robert said. “A lot of people won’t want their animal but also won’t want to give it to the shelter because they think we’ll just kill it. That is the furthest from the truth.”

Robert works with rescue organizations daily to find loving homes for each animal that comes into her care. Some organizations are breed-specific, while others offer help in transporting animals to new families located anywhere in the country. Decisions about an animal’s adoptability are made based on behavioral and health evaluations. Robert said only 2 percent of adoptable dogs at the shelter are euthanized.

And Robert gets some special help in giving all animals the chance they deserve. Donations from the St. Charles Parish Humane Society cover medical expenses, vaccines and tests for shelter animals. In other parts of the country humane societies are not usually partnered with government-funded shelters, Robert said. Robert also accepts help from those required to do community service for minor legal offenses.

The shelter employs four animal control officers and has 22 indoor/outdoor dog runs, a cat room, a medical room for checkups and surgery and a quarantine area for newly acquired felines. Lack of space has been an issue, especially in recent months. In March 2007, the shelter took in a total of 70 dogs; including 17 in a single day.

Those numbers can be dramatically decreased through spaying and neutering, which prevent unwanted litters. Robert said low-cost surgeries are available for pet owners who qualify. And feral cats (unsocialized strays living in colonies) can be trapped, brought in and fixed for only $10. Ferals can also be relocated to any number of barns in the area to serve as pest-control.

Microchipping can also prevent animals from entering the shelter. The process inserts a small chip under an animal’s skin that is scanned and tied to the owner’s information via computer. This can identify strays even if they’ve lost their I.D. tags.

“I’m amazed at how many people don’t come here looking for their animals,” Robert said. “If the animal is microchipped it can be home in minutes.”

The shelter recently acquired ARC software, which is being used to digitize all the shelter’s records. Robert encourages all pet owners to register their animals through this new system by calling the shelter at 985-785-5010.

Robert is also working to update the parish’s animal ordinances, which are subject to parish council approval. The process requires input from law enforcement and officials with both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States.

“I think there should be a law making microchipping mandatory,” Robert said. “And Congress recently passed a nation-wide ban on slaughtering horses that is forcing people to bring their horses here to the shelter.”

Current law states that all horses surrendered to the shelter be put up for auction, not adoption. Robert would like to make sure rescue groups can be involved in rehoming equines. The recent addition of sight barriers to the fence next to the shelter on River Road in Luling will help shield larger animals.

Still, Robert emphasized the that the shelter continues to have a “huge open-door policy.”

“Just like they say it takes a village to raise a child, it truly takes the entire community to make sure we treat our animals the right way,” she said.

To volunteer with the St. Charles Parish Humane Society, contact Jennifer King at The shelter is located at 13875 Frere St. under the bridge in Luling.

What you should know about animal control:

•The St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter holds all strays for seven days before taking any further action. Microchipping is critical because it can reunite pet and owner quickly. If you lose a pet, please notify shelter staff at 985-783-5010.

•All pit bulls in the parish are required by law to be microchipped and registered with the animal shelter. An animal control officer will inspect the animal’s enclosure before registration is approved.

•Citizens may call Animal Control at any time to report strays. However, shelter policy dictates that shelter staff only responds to calls about strays that are in imminent danger on weekends or after hours.

•Animal Control assists the sheriff’s office with bite cases. If a bite breaks the skin, the person must seek medical attention and file a report with the sheriff’s office.

•The shelter has plans to house only the pets of those being evacuated by the parish during hurricanes. Citizens evacuating on their own are required to bring their pets with them.

•Dog and cat adoptions start at $60 and include spay/neuter, a first set of vaccinations, rabies short, de-worming, de-fleaing and a bag of food. Microchipping costs $20.

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