At the risk of beating a dead horse beyond all recognition, I would like to revisit the controversy surrounding the new River Center branch library from a different perspective and to question the priorities of our city-parish government.

How is it that construction of a new and totally unnecessary downtown library has been approved when there is such an obvious and dire need for a new animal shelter in this parish? (Indeed, we are still patiently awaiting construction of a new Main Library at Goodwood approved four years ago!)

The existing Animal Control and Rescue Center at 2680 Progress Road is little more than a jumble of ramshackle buildings dating from 1970 and is not conducive to adoptions - especially for the high volume of animals it serves. Although the most pressing concern is money and staff, several isolation sections are needed as well.

Ideally, mothers and their offspring should be housed separately from the stray intakes to avoid the spread of contagious diseases. Unfortunately, the initiative proffered in 2008 by Hilton M. Cole, director of animal control, to construct and operate an adoption and education facility on Old Hammond at Millerville failed due to a “lack of funds.”

Sadly, a “no-kill shelter” is probably not an option for East Baton Rouge Parish because of a total lack of responsibility and commitment shown by many in failing to confine and spay/neuter their pets.

And, of course, there are always those “compassionate” pet owners who find it necessary to abandon/dump their furry friends because they have somehow become “inconvenient” through no fault of their own. In a better (but not great) case scenario, the cat/dog would be “surrendered” to animal control and later adopted.

However, there is no guarantee of that. Of the animals impounded in 2009, only 1,262 were adopted. But 8,527 were euthanized. How many of those could have been trained as therapy dogs for the disabled or taught to find missing children, track escaped convicts, search for drugs, anticipate seizures, detect cancer, alert their owners to fire, save countless lives as in “9/11,” provide comfort to a war veteran or just give an elderly person a reason to live?

What do they get out of the $20 million monumental waste of money being built to the greater glory of the Downtown Development District?

Kris Hursey

state employee

Baton Rouge