Parish hears price tag on animal control

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Getting Concordia Parish&8217;s animal control problem fixed won&8217;t come cheap, police jury President Melvin Ferrington learned Thursday night, but that doesn&8217;t mean nothing will be done about it.

Ferrington had invited the mayors of the parish&8217;s five municipalities &8212; Clayton, Ferriday, Monterey, Ridgecrest and Vidalia &8212; to hear a budget proposal for an animal control operation from Concordia Animal Welfare Shelter Director Lisa Smith.

None of the mayors came and only one, Ridgecrest Mayor Guy Lain, sent a representative in his place.

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Investigator Frankie Carroll was on hand to represent the Concordia Parish Sheriff&8217;s Office.

The meeting went on, however, as Smith presented Ferrington with her proposal.

The one-time cost of finishing the addition to the CAWS building that would house the animal control facility would be $26,600, Smith estimated, and would include a vehicle for the officer, cages, a stock trailer and a computer.

The $86,400 estimate for running a parish-wide animal control operation provides for two staff members &8212; an officer for

$25,000 and a kennel technician for $17,000.

The facility itself would need another $36,000 for food, utilities, medical care and cleaning supplies.

Office expenses and vehicle maintenance and insurance make up the final $8,400.

While Ferrington agreed the parish desperately needs the service, he said the jury couldn&8217;t afford to foot the bill alone.

&8220;We&8217;ll definitely do our part, but there&8217;s no way the parish can do it ourselves,&8221; he said. &8220;It&8217;s going to take a complete effort.&8221;

Smith noted that the operation doesn&8217;t have to be a sinkhole, as the facility would have the power to enforce animal control laws and fine people for breaking them.

Another source of revenue would be enforced registration of animals. This would not only serve to make sure owners are keeping up with their vaccinations on their animals, Smith said, it could also raise money.

Her proposal states that if half of the 10,895 dogs and cats in the parish were registered &8212; at a rate of $5 for altered and $10 for non-altered &8212; the facility would generate $38,136 per year.

The estimate is based on American Pet Products Manufacturers Association numbers which claim 43 percent of American households own an average of 1.7 dogs and 34 percent of homes own an average of 2.1 cats.

As of the 2000 National Census, there were 7,538 households in Concordia Parish.

Jury Secretary Russell Wagoner said he would take the proposal and figure out what each municipality would be asked to contribute. This estimate would be made using population numbers, he said.

Ferrington said the mayors would then be contacted again to get their thoughts.

&8220;I know the towns are just as strapped for money as we are,&8221; he said. &8220;But we&8217;ve got to find some way to get it in here.&8221;