Concordia animal shelter closing

Published 12:01 am Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Concordia Animal Welfare Shelter and Rescue will be closed as of Friday.

We have suspended all operations at the shelter, such as surrender of animals, cruelty investigations and more. We are no longer accepting any animals.

The gates have been removed and any animals dropped at the shelter from this point forward will be allowed to roam at large or will be euthanized.

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Additionally, our director, Lisa Smith, will take a leave for six months to be the consultant for the town of Madison on the construction of a state of the art animal shelter. This leave and temporary closing of the shelter will afford us the opportunity to make much needed repairs to our present shelter that were caused by the constant overflow and not enough cages. We also have the balance of a grant from the Department of Agriculture to complete as much as possible on the animal control building.

As most of you know, the shelter receives no financial support from any entity in the parish, the policy jury, the towns of Ferriday, Ridgecrest, Vidalia, Clayton or the surrounding areas, all of which we accept animals from.

The only support we have ever received was from the few wonderful citizens that gave through donations and through our fundraisers. There has been wonderful support from our board, but that does not pay the bills.

It is a constant struggle to pay the vet, buy food and pay utilities. There is so much need for animal control in our parish, but our local officials do not deem this a necessary part of our community. If they had, they would have worked together to ensure some form of assistance.

We spent many man hours, resources and three years attempting to have an animal abuser prosecuted. All of the evidence in the Debbie Palmer case was there from the beginning. It was not necessary that our system allowed the case to take so long. Due to frustration on all parts, I am sure tempers flared and unnecessary words were spoken on both sides. The shelter is still paying bills associated with that case. CAWS was not on of the organizations that received compensation. But we do take satisfaction in knowing we raised awareness regarding animal cruelty.

All our efforts were not focused on animal cruelty, though. We had the wonderful experience of pet therapy and sharing that with people in our local nursing homes.

Humane education is also a big part of what CAWS is about. We so need to educate the children on animal care and the importance of having pets spayed or neutered so as not to contribute to pet overpopulation and the deaths of so many innocent animals.

I, as president of CAWS, have written several letters to the editor of our local paper asking for some financial support. It appears it was not important enough to the people to generate much response. At this point, as we close to do the repairs, we will consult with the board and take a fresh look at the situation. We will decide what we can do to be able to continue operations. As much as I, and others, would hate not to have the shelter in Ferriday, unless we get some financial assistance, we may not have a choice.

For Lisa and me, we have put our heart and soul into this shelter and want desperately to continue the work we started.

There is so much left to do. Ultimately, much of this will lie in the hands of our government officials as to whether they deem the services we provide of value to the community.

A number of animals remain at the shelter that desperately need a home. Please contact me at 318-481-0182 if you can save a life.

I want again to express my deepest thanks to those who have given their support from the beginning to the shelter in monies and much-needed supplies.

We are forever grateful.

Donna Maroon is the president of the Concordia Animal Welfare Shelter and Rescue.