4 Paws director concerned about recent OPAS move

Litter of puppies in animal shelter. Australian Shepherds

By T. Scott Boatright

Animal control in Lincoln Parish got a little more complicated last month after the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter (OPAS) moved to no longer take in animals from outside that parish.

When Lincoln Parish’s two rescue shelters — 4 Paws and Simply Southern — did not have space available for any new stray or owner-surrendered animals, the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office had been transporting animals it to OPAS, which charges a per dog fee and also euthanizes animals based on space and overcrowding.

Agreements made late in 2021 have had the LPPJ pay $100 for every dog the Lincoln Parish Animal Control program brings to 4 Paws or Simply Southern. 

But overcrowding at both of Lincoln Parish’s rescue shelters resulted in many dogs being transported to OPAS before the Ouachita Parish Police Jury voted to stop accepting out-of-parish dogs.

“We had to turn away 25 dogs brought to us the first day after OPAS stopped accepting Lincoln Parish animals, and we turned away 20 today,” said 4 Paws Director Sue Martin late Tuesday afternoon. “It’s usually litters of puppies being brought in, which results in the high number of dogs. It really has become a crisis for Lincoln Parish.

“We can hold at most 70 dogs at 4 Paws . There are many more dogs than the rescues can handle right now.”

The city of Ruston is planning on building a new animal shelter. Initial plans were for that facility to accept only animals from within city limits. But the current crisis has matters being reconsidered.

Hopes are that the Lincoln Parish Police Jury and the city of Ruston might be able to come to some sort of agreement to handle the overflow of local animals left homeless.

“We don’t have anything on the agenda about all of that for the police jury’s June 14 meeting,” Lincoln Parish Administrator Doug Postel said Tuesday evening. “But we have some temporary measures in place with the Ruston Animal Shelter and I’m hoping to have word within the next day or so on more permanent arrangements — permanent meaning until the new shelter opens — until that facility gets built and opens.

“We’ve been having some talks about long-term arrangements with the city before the OPAS decision anyhow, and I think we might hear something by the next meeting about those long-term arrangements.”

Martin said she is encouraging parish residents to talk to their respective police jurors about the problem.

“I just hope community members make the effort to talk to their police jurors so that we can all try to work together for the good of both the citizens of Lincoln Parish as well as all of the animals we have in need here.”

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