Vidalia Dog Pound closing? Director seeks to ‘clear the air’

Published 12:28 pm Saturday, June 8, 2024

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Editor’s Note: The above gallery includes all 19 dogs who are available to adopt at the Vidalia Dog Pound before it closes on July 1. All of the dogs are fully vetted and spayed or neutered and all adoption fees are waived for the 19 remaining dogs, who must find new homes by June 30. Visit them at 501 Sycamore St. between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., or to inquire about adopting an animal at the Vidalia Dog Pound, call 318-336-6257.


VIDALIA, La. — Deedee Roberts, who for more than eight years has run the dog pound near the Vidalia water treatment plant at 501 Sycamore St., posted on her personal social media page this week that all 19 dogs currently housed there need homes before the end of the month.

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In her post, Roberts announced that the oversight and operation of the pound would transition to the Vidalia Police Department beginning July 1.

This raised concern for many friends of the Vidalia dog pound who’ve supported it through the years after it was brought back from a deplorable state under a previous administration.

“I want to clear the air,” Roberts said. “I don’t want this to be a witch hunt after the city or anybody. Nobody is trying to do something bad. They’re taking over it because I won’t be here forever. They’re taking it over to give the Police Department a try. They have better liability coverage than we do at the utility department where I work. The town wants the liability and expenses to go from the utility department back to the police department.”

The pound itself is set to remain in the same location for the time being, but when the town begins expanding the water treatment plant, which is in close proximity to the pound, it will have to move eventually, Roberts said.

Before Roberts took the helm, the dog pound was a kill shelter run by the town police and in “horrific shape,” she said.

Former Vidalia mayor Hyram Copeland’s administration enabled Roberts to build a new no-kill shelter near the older one with a complete vetting and adoption process.

Roberts said she has worked for the town for 23 years. She is currently working in the utility department full-time, running the shelter on the side. Since she’s started, close to 1,000 animals have been rescued and found homes, she said.

“On paper, it’s 888, but it’s closer to 1,000. I find dogs that I know on the street and I take them home to their owners.”

Roberts said all the dogs currently at the pound need homes before the police department takes over so that they won’t need to carry the burden of those animals.

Police Chief Joey Merrill said his department running a pound instead of long-term housing animals in a shelter is a “better fit for the city.”

Rather than put animals down, Merrill said they would be vetted out to other certified shelters such as Concordia PAWS.

“We will have a place to bring dogs when we pick them up for whatever reason and interact with Concordia PAWS and other places in case we have to house the dogs for any length of time,” Merrill said. “Having a stray or loose dog is against our town ordinance, so if we pick them up the owner pays a fee to get them back. We should be able to run it with no extra expenses.”

Merrill said those who see a loose dog should still call Vidalia Police dispatch and the town’s animal control officer will come collect the dog.

Roberts said the traditional $50 adoption fee is waived for all animals that remain at the dog pound until June 30.

She thanked everyone who have been supporters of the shelter for the past eight years.

“We get donations from the community and not just our community but all over the United States,” she said. “We’ve used Natchez Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Gregg (Gregg Veterinary Hospital) in Vidalia. We wouldn’t have existed without them.”

To inquire about adopting an animal at the Vidalia Dog Pound, call 318-336-6257. Currently the pound is open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 501 Sycamore St.

“All of these dogs are completely vetted. They are spayed or neutered and heartworm-negative. They’re ready to roll and they’re all good dogs,” Roberts said. “They need credible, good adopters. They aren’t going to just anybody.”

Roberts said vet references are required and a fenced-in yard is preferred but not required depending on the type of housing arrangement.

Roberts said every time she has called Merrill for help, he supported her and “I hope others will step in” and do the same for him.

Her main concern is finding homes for the dogs.

“I have concerns about everything going on in this entire parish,” she said. “We all work together, myself, Concordia PAWS and the Natchez shelters but all shelters are brimming overfull and it’s been that way for a few years. It’s sad because we have four and it feels like we’re not knocking a dent in everything.”