Shelter looks at dog park to increase adoptions

Under the Hale Boggs Bridge and across from a million-dollar ball park sits the St. Charles Parish Humane Society – a building in grave need of repairs and upgrades, filled with stray animals also in want.

“In a parish that works so hard to take care of its community, why are we not taking care of our animals?” asks 6-year resident Dani Huffman. “Why are we not  providing the necessary supplies that are needed by the employees to help in the care and adoption of these animals?”

Huffman claims that animals that have been brought to the shelter are in need of toys, an adequate place to live and a place to run and play with people who love them – like a neighboring  dog park.

“I stopped to visit and look into volunteering after adopting a wonderful dog from the humane society last year,” said Huffman. “And upon entering I was greeted with smiling faces and a large green sign that states, ‘Pardon our PHEW.’”

The sign, which has remained placed on the shelter’s wall for several years, refers to the odor that is in  the air due to the fact that the animals are kept in cages without sealed concrete floors.

“Basically, the smell of urine and feces seeps into the concrete where it can’t escape,” added Hoffman. “The shelter employees disinfect the cages daily, but without the concrete sealant, the smell lingers.”

Due to the lack of space, the employees work in tight quarters, but say that doesn’t keep them from providing excellent care for the animals.

“Our humane society takes in all types of animals – cats, dogs, rabbits, birds and even horses,” said Angie Robert, the director of the parish’s animal shelter. “We also charge the least amount possible for spaying and neutering.”

In an effort to find out more about fellow humane societies, Huffman took it upon herself to visit both the Jefferson and New Orleans SPCAs.

“I first went to the animal shelter in Jefferson, which was just as clean as ours, but it did have an area for the animals to run and play in. And the staff had a large office and a nice waiting room,” she said.

“My next stop was the ‘creme de la creme’ – the New Orleans Parish SPCA, a $7 million facility.”

Huffman says that in New Orleans each dog stays in its own “doggy apartment” in an air-conditioned building, painted with cheerful colors.

“The same is true for the cats and other animals that are taken in,” she added. “And there is a play area  that resembles a park. This facility is top notch. I couldn’t believe the differences between each parish facility considering the fact that they all serve the same purpose.”

The local humane society is in great need of funds and volunteers in order to accomplish their dreams of building a better shelter. In fact, a plan has been drawn for a new building, but at the cost of $2 million, it’s a dream the shelter can’t afford.

“For the first time since I became part of the St. Charles Parish community, I feel disappointed and saddened,” said Huffman. “Why can’t we as as parish come together to support our humane society in a manner we can be proud of?

“We have a director who has many ideas that will help better the future for our homeless animals.”

Until a new shelter can be funded, the grassy area next to the humane society is being considered for a dog park that would be used to exercise the animals and also serve as a “meet and greet” area for those who might already have a pet, but would enjoy adopting another one.

“This would give the animals a chance to meet on neutral territory and interact with other animals and people,” said Huffman.

In order for plans for a dog park to follow through, items such as park benches, trees and materials to build a gazebo are needed.

“I understand that we are living in a recession, but our community is full of big hearted people who can reach out and meet the needs of our humane society,” continued Huffman. “Let’s give a voice to our friends who can’t speak for themselves.”


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