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Editor/Consulting Writer

Attempts by city officials to control the number of unleashed and perhaps vicious dogs roaming through Opelousas will apparently require detailed planning and increased revenue

No one inside the city administration nor the elected Opelousas Board of Aldermen is denying that more needs to be done in order to provide relief from the number of dogs that are running loose without collars or identification.

City Attorney Travis Broussard told the Board during a February meeting that the city already possesses an ordinance that outlines fines and penalties for owners whose dogs are insufficiently unrestrained and at-large.

Enforcing that ordinance is proving difficult however.

“The problem is,” says Alderman John Guilbeaux, “when you go to find the owners of the dog, they say that is not my dog,”

Guilbeaux, who introduced the free range dog issue for discussion at the meeting, said the city has created several kennels that secure dogs who are being apprehended and potentially awaiting transport to the St. Landry Parish-operated animal control facility located at the airport northwest of the city.

However Guilbeaux said the city-owned kennels normally reach their capacities.

Parish president Jessie Bellard has said previously that the parish has been limiting the number of dogs accepted at the animal shelter in order to provide better care and medical treatment for the animals before they are eligible for adoption.

The city, Guilbeaux said, needs to develop a way to resolve the issue, but in order to do that, it’s going to take funding.

Possible Solutions?

Lori Dupre, who spoke during the meeting, said she has already had conversations with Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor about handling the influx of dogs who are moving around the city unrestrained.

Dupre said there is possibly grant funding to help with constructing expanded facilities, but Alsandor said obtaining grant money is not obtained without matching funds.

There are also other factors involved when the city becomes involved with accepting grant revenues, said Alsandor.

“Grants are not necessarily a one time cost. Not only is there the money that will be needed from the city for matching the grant, there is also the matter of hiring and paying employees as well as providing insurance,” Alsandor said.

However Alsandor said he is open to listening to individuals who offer plans for temporarily housing stray dogs. 

Possibly there is also the option of looking at potential locations for a citywide shelter in order to construct a municipally-run facility, said Alsandor.

Former Cross Street Facility

For many years, the city used a large facility located on Cross Street as a municipal kennel before the parish began assisting with dog intake procedures.

Alsandor said that currently the condition of the Cross Street facility is unacceptable to be used for dogs that are taken off the street or surrendered.

Also the residents living near the now abandoned shelter often filed complaints with city officials, Alsandor noted.

“It (the Cross Street structure) needs to be cleaned up. I know that because I went in there and everything, the copper and all the other wiring, including the electrical panels is gone. To replace that is again, going to take funding. That is not going to be a minimal cost,” said Alsandor.