Ascension Animal Shelter faces possible cuts

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - An animal shelter, recognized as one of the best in the state, is facing sharp cuts.

Ascension Parish leaders are talking about trimming operations at animal control to plug a nearly $200,000 hole in the budget.

On any given day dozens of animals at the Ascension Animal Shelter wait for someone to walk in, show them a little attention, and if they're lucky take them from the parish kennels to a permanent home.

While most people come to the shelter to adopt, some show up hoping to find their lost pets.

Amanda Knost was there early Monday morning looking for her buddy, Sam.

"He got out last week and we couldn't find him," Knost said.

Animal Shelter Director Michael LeBlanc said while reunions are the highlight of his job, there's another side to it that involves connecting with veterinarians to help control the animal population, caring for the injured and enforcing parish ordinances.

"Every day is a challenge. Every day is a challenge in trying to cover 357 square miles of Ascension Parish. We have one animal control officer that's trying to cover all that territory," LeBlanc explained.

The six people on staff care for the nearly 3,500 to 4,000 animals that come into the shelter each year. LeBlanc said it's a tough operation to run, and its one that might soon get tougher.

Strategic Planning Committee Chairman Kent Schexnaydre said parish leaders are considering cutting back on funding to the animal shelter to make budget.

"Naturally everyone wants to see a good animal control continue. We have to figure out how to do it," Schexnaydre said.

Schexnaydre said while closing the shelter is not an option it could mean fewer employees and a reduction in services. Those are services some residents said they never knew existed until they called on the shelter for help.

"It's very important. I didn't realize how important it was until today," Knost said.

Parish leaders are also looking for other ways, such as implementing a millage tax, to fund the animal shelter long term.

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