By Jim Wilkerson
At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury published a factsheet concerning its contract with 4 Paws. The LPPJ believes the information in the packet justifies terminating its funding to the animal rescue shelter.
The Journal reached out to 4 Paws Director Sue Martin to allow her to respond to each of the statements published by LPPJ. The Journal will also allow Police Jurors and Deputy Rob Sasser to respond to each of Martin’s statements below, if they so wish.
Below, the reader will find six of LPPJ’s facts, with Martin’s responses directly underneath each fact (only certain facts and responses are listed to save space):
LPPJ Fact: LPPJ is tasked with animal control, not animal rescue.
Martin’s response: “This is correct; however, we are in a cooperative endeavor agreement with the LPPJ. Although the State of Louisiana has mandated that each Parish provide suitable shelters or facilities for dogs seized for running at large, [the Police Jury] has failed to provide adequate funding to accomplish said mandate…Parishes are authorized to contract with third parties for providing shelters or facilities for dogs seized for running at large. 4 Paws is that third party and has been since 2018.”
LPPJ Fact: Funding began when issues arose at the Ruston City Animal Control (RAC) facility and the City administration cut off the Parish’s ability to house animals.
Martin’s response: “We currently pull dogs from RAC on a regular basis when space is available. We have taken at least 10 this year from them. In 2016, plans to build a shelter among the City, Parish and 4 Paws were started. A study was done in which we paid a shelter planner the sum of $9K ($3k per agency). 4 Paws takes in an average of 334 dogs per year the Parish would otherwise have to deal with. So, the provision of $24k, which is only 17 percent of our annual operating budget of $142K, seemed a reasonable request.”
LPPJ Fact: LPPJ funded 4 Paws as a stopgap measure in order to cover its state-mandated role of animal control.
Martin’s response: “4 Paws is the stopgap measure to cover the state-mandated role of animal control. Over the past seven years, we have taken in 334 dogs per year…For a ‘stopgap’, we are proud of the job we’ve done. We have an adoption rate of 95 percent. To date this year, we have taken in 264 dogs and adopted out 281. For the past three years, we have spent $420K for operating expenses. $72K over the past 3 years is minuscule in comparison. We are the Lincoln Parish shelter that the [Police Jury] refused to build for two decades.”
LPPJ Fact: LPPJ has now established a comprehensive animal control plan involving Ouachita Parish Animal Control (OPAS) and RAC, in addition to local rescue shelters.
Martin’s response: “It is what they have been doing all along, except they added a five-bed capacity to RAC…Deputy Rob Sasser never brought us dogs until after we had a meeting with the LPPJ in November 2020, in which we agreed to take dogs he picked up. Sasser brought eight dogs the last two months of 2020, and from January to March 2021, he brought us 24 dogs. He abruptly stopped on March 11. At that point I called the Sheriff, [Doug] Postel, Teresa Wyatt and Skip Russell, in addition to texting my Jury representative, T. J. Cranford, to let them know Sasser was not bringing us any dogs…OPAS is where the majority of Lincoln Parish dogs are being taken…Since March, OPAS has called us to come get dogs brought in by LPSO…To date we have picked up 44 dogs from OPAS.”
LPPJ Fact: In the November 10, 2020, regular Police Jury meeting, Ms. Martin stated that 4 Paws would not refuse any dog brought to their facility, even if she ‘had to take it home’. 4 PAWS continued to refuse animals brought to their facility by the animal control officer.
Martin’s response: “We took in six owner surrenders from Sasser in one day on February 23, 2021, after we had just taken in five dogs ourselves that day. We have taken in 45 owner surrenders to date…We were told by the Parish that we must save space for ALL dogs brought to us by Sasser. That being the case, we do turn away a lot of owner surrenders to keep space open. What has been happening is upon being told we have no room, the owner calls Sasser… Sasser should have brought owner surrenders to 4 Paws per our November 2020 agreement…But Sasser’s been taking Lincoln Parish dogs to OPAS; OPAS is calling 4 Paws when they are aware the dogs are from Lincoln Parish; and we go and get them. It is incomprehensible that this has been allowed to go on since March 2021.”
LPPJ Fact: As of October 20, 2021, Parish animal control officers have delivered 111 animals to OPAS, in addition to 144 animals delivered by individual citizens. 4 Paws does not have the capacity to handle this number of animals.
Martin’s response: “Nor does OPAS, RAC, or any other rescues in the area. 4 Paws has picked up 40 of the dogs delivered to OPAS by Sasser and numerous owner surrenders, the most recent being November 12, 2021. No records have been kept on the owner surrenders being brought from Lincoln Parish to OPAS. We keep a census of 65+ (much more than most local rescues). We’ve even built 3 more large kennels to accommodate the increase in the number of dogs since the November agreement with LPPJ and LPSO.”
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