Conditions have improved at the parish animal shelter following an August investigation into allegations that animal overcrowding had reached dangerous levels, said Hilton Cole, East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control director.
“Things are better and it’s not as overcrowded as it was. Many of the concerns were addressed,” Cole said .
The investigation was initiated Aug. 23 after Cole received several complaints about conditions in the shelter.
The complaints were lodged after Companion Animal Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to making the shelter a no-kill facility, took over management of the shelter Aug. 1.
CAA Director Laura Hinze, said she plans to address the Metro Council at its Sept. 28 meeting to respond to a report on the investigation’s findings.
The report includes details of what five investigators witnessed at the shelter. The investigators are: a veterinarian, a city police officer in the canine division, a member of Capital Area Welfare Society and two parish Animal Control enforcement officers.
The report states one investigator saw a 4-foot-by-6-foot pen with eight dogs in it, and other pens with between two and six dogs.
Hinze said the overcrowding has been addressed, and many animals have been moved to foster homes.
Cole said there has been better pen management since the report.
Hinze also said the number of animals in a pen depends on the size of the animal.
Lt. Robert P. Glaser, the police officer who participated in the investigation, said he saw dogs without water, and overcrowding that resulted in animal waste being all over the pens with some animals eating it and others lying in it.
The veterinarian investigator reported he saw puppies isolated in one of the facility’s bathrooms.
Hinze said it is common practice for no-kill shelters to utilize all appropriate space. The bathroom is one of eight at the shelter.
Still, Hinze made sure the animals were taken out of the bathroom immediately, she said.
Cole said the bathroom had been “emptied and detailed.”
When asked if she thought the report was fair and accurate, Hinze said it was only partly accurate.
“It’s possible people not familiar with the shelter had a chance of misinterpreting what they saw,” Hinze said.
“The shelter is different moment to moment. You can’t take a snapshot because animals are always being moved and cleaned,” Hinze said.
Hinze said that a count, or census, of animals taken on Sept. 10 showed 139 cats and 410 dogs at the facility.
The average number of animals coming into the facility daily in August was 27, Hinze said.
That number dropped slightly to 25 in September, Hinze said.
The average number of animals adopted daily in August was seven, Hinze said.
She said she expected to see more than an average of seven adoptions a day.
“When summer was over and school started back up, that hurt us,” Hinze said.
Although CAA’s goal is for the shelter to be no-kill, 214 animals have been euthanized since the nonprofit took over Aug 1.
Hinze said only animals that are mortally ill, too old, or cannot be rehabilitated or adopted because of medical issues are euthanized.
“We will not allow an animal to suffer,” Hinze said.
CAA has veterinarians on staff, including a full-time chief veterinarian who makes the decision on whether an animal is euthanized.
Hinze said the staff saw a spike in owners surrendering pets that were injured or had other medical issues during the first three weeks of August.
“We’ve had dogs with broken legs, a broken spine and broken hips brought in. We can’t pinpoint what happened, and you have to go with what the public tells you about the injuries,” Hinze said.
Cole said CAA still needs time before judgments are made.
“It’s very early in the process and it’s probably overwhelming. You have to give them time to adjust midstream,” Cole said.