Banned animal rescue group lambasts Ascension Parish animal shelter conditions, demands access reinstatement _lowres

Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- Ascension Parish Animal Shelter

An animal rescue group and Ascension Parish officials are in early discussions about allowing the organization to take over operations of the parish animal shelter, representatives of both parties said Wednesday.

Tensions between the parish and Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension erupted last month after a CARA officer, frustrated over recent policy changes at the shelter, posted impassioned remarks on her Facebook page.

The parish responded by banning CARA from the shelter temporarily, saying it considered the remarks threatening.

Since then, the two sides have gotten together and are trying to work through the problems the animal rescue group said it had with the shelter, both sides have said.

“We have open communication with CARA. We plan on meeting with them whenever they want,” said O’Neil Parenton, parish attorney.

The parish has granted requests made by the rescue group, and changes are in place to help find homes for animals at the shelter, said Virginia Smith, the attorney for CARA.

Volunteers from the rescue group are now permitted to take pictures of all of the cats and dogs at the shelter, which is located in Sorrento, for the “Friends of the Ascension Parish Shelter” Facebook page that helps find adoptive homes for the animals, Smith said.

CARA volunteers also can document the intake information on the cards attached to each animal’s kennel, which helps in placing them in homes, she said.

In addition, the shelter is no longer putting an animal down after a rescue group or person has said they are coming to get the animal, Smith said.

And, she said, the shelter is providing a weekly or biweekly “kill list” of the animals at risk of being euthanized.

“A kill list was provided last week, and enough dogs were pulled by rescue that euthanizations could be avoided,” Smith said.

She wasn’t sure, however, about what happened last week to the cats at the shelter.

CARA and the parish will continue discussing other matters such as the care of severely injured animals, Smith said. There is no veterinarian on the staff of the animal shelter, she said.

Parenton said the parish is providing information that CARA volunteers have asked for as they study the situation. Recently, the parish provided information on the shelter’s funding.

“All in all, I think the parties are working in good faith to get any remaining issues resolved,” Smith said.

After the short-term feud erupted last month, CARA held a public meeting to discuss issues at the shelter.

The parish also filed suit, asking a judge to determine whether and how much the parish can charge CARA for the cost of filling a public records request made by the group.

CARA has since deferred the public records request.