CAWS doors closed for now

Published 12:16 am Friday, February 22, 2008

FERRIDAY — Five years after it opened, the Concordia Animal Welfare Shelter closed its doors Friday, at least temporarily.

The shelter will no longer accept any new animals and has suspended any animal cruelty investigations it conducted, CAWS President Donna Maroon said.

People have dropped off animals at the shelter since its closure, Maroon said, and Wednesday afternoon someone had tied a puppy to a light pole outside the shelter.

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During the closure, the shelter will focus on repairing the building and using grant money to finish the shelter’s second building, which was supposed to serve as an animal control building and emergency evacuation shelter, Maroon said.

The building that has served as the shelter was only supposed to serve as an adoption center, but all of the animals coming through the shelter have had to go through that building because the second building was not yet done.

“We have a lot of holes in it from overcrowding from the time of Hurricane Katrina on,” Maroon said. “We had to keep dogs and cats in rooms and not cages.”

At the time of the closure, the shelter adopted out 10 animals, and Director Lisa Smith took another 10 more to Madison with her, where she is serving as a consultant for a shelter that is starting up there, Maroon said.

The rest of the animals, which were largely feral cats too wild to tame, had to be euthanized, Maroon said.

The closure leaves the Natchez-Adams Humane Society as the only animal shelter in the area, but President Linda Harper said the society would be able to handle what comes their way.

“Even when CAWS was open we continued to take a lot of animals from that area when they were full because they weren’t able to house that many animals,” Harper said.

“We’re still good, though, and we’ll take anything that comes through the door.”

But Harper said one important CAWS function the humane society will not be able to cover is that of animal control.

“I had someone call me today (from Concordia Parish) about some rottweillers that were chasing kids,” Harper said. “We don’t go to that area, and there’s nobody to call but the police.”

When or if the shelter re-opens, it will not be in the animal control business, Maroon said.

“That will be up to the sheriff’s department and the local people,” Maroon said. “We’re going to concentrate on education in schools and pet therapy in the nursing homes.”

Needs the shelter has during the interim include money for veterinarian bills, as well as utilities.

“Without some government help from local police juries for the areas we cover, it’s impossible to operate,” Maroon said. “I hope people will talk to their officials.”

The Concordia Parish Police Jury tried to work out an intergovernmental agreement with local municipalities for animal control in 2007, but nothing ultimately came of the efforts.