Adams County, Concordia Parish look at ways to handle animal control problems

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

Authorities in Adams County and Concordia Parish are seeking better ways to handle the problems with animal cruelty and strays.

No government employee is in charge of responding to animal problems on either side of the river, though volunteers do respond in both areas.

Sheriff Ronny Brown is asking Adams County supervisors to approve an ordinance regarding how vicious dogs should be restrained and to appoint an animal control officer and a ranger. And the Concordia Animal Welfare Society and police jury are planning a meeting regarding the hiring of a parish-wide animal control officer.

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In Adams County, Brown said numbers from the last two years show the enormity of the problem.

In the county outside Natchez, 98 dog bites were reported to the Sheriff&8217;s Office; 94 livestock problems; 27 cases of animal cruelty, 18 stolen dogs and eight dogs who were shot.

&8220;We didn&8217;t realize how much of a problem it was until we started looking,&8221; Brown said. &8220;We don&8217;t want them to enact a leash law out in the county. But we&8217;ve got to find something to do to handle this problem.&8221;

When it comes to strays in Adams County, resident Michelle Brooks rounds up livestock and Don Winters rounds up smaller animals, both on a volunteer basis.

But rounding and holding others&8217; animals without official sanction opens Winters and Brooks to liability. And Winters said that without supervisors&8217; OK, he doesn&8217;t have the authority to investigate animal cruelty cases or take abused animals.

After hearing a presentation by Brown Monday, supervisors asked their attorney, Bob Latham, to research what animal control ordinances could be enacted in the county.

No figures have been worked out on how much Brooks or Winters, or whoever the county would appoint as a ranger or animal control officer, would be paid. State law now allows Brooks to charge the owners of cattle or horses a fee for boarding the animals.

In Concordia Parish, CAWS volunteers have been rescuing and boarding stray animals, &8220;but we don&8217;t have the manpower to do that any more,&8221; CAWS Director Lisa Smith said.

The society still handles cases of possible animal neglect and cruelty &8212; an average of two or so calls a week.

The Concordia Parish Sheriff&8217;s Office handles calls regarding large animals such as horses or livestock, with two officers assigned to do that along with other duties, said Police Jury Secretary Russell Wagoner.

&8220;But we need someone who can do that full time, &8230; a state-certified animal control officer,&8221; Smith said.