Future of animal shelter depends on April 29 vote

Jax is one of many animals currently up for adoption and awaiting their forever home at the Sabine Humane Society shelter.  He is an eight-month-old pit bull and Labrador retriever mix.  

By Daniel Jones, editor

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Although that quote from Gandhi is decades old, it says a lot about how a society operates, and that their attitudes toward the least of their citizens is the way it should be judged. 

For a number of years, Sabine Parish was without an animal shelter, but ten years ago that changed after the citizens of the parish worked hard on fundraisers before seeing fit to enact a very small property tax, which brought about the shelter and funds to run it.

Longtime lawman and former town of Many Police Chief Dean Lambert painted a gruesome picture of what enforcement was before the tax.

“Oh what I would have given for the shelter to be in operation when I was chief,” Lambert said.  “The police were receiving constant complaints about stray dogs in packs that were attacking their dogs, or worse, threatening them or their children.”

He continues by stating that Many PD had no options but to exterminate the problem.  They used .22 caliber rifles to make less noise, and the exterminations were performed late at night.

“Sometimes the problem got out of hand, and other methods had to be used,” Lambert said.  “The public demanded a solution to the problem without understanding what few options we had.  Many nights I mixed hamburger meat with arsenic or strychnine to make paddies.”

Lambert had to warn those involved what the white powder on the meant. The paddies worked great on stray dogs, but collateral damage was also great to pets with homes and local wildlife that only saw a tasty treat.

“It was a horrible death,” Lambert states.  “It was a blessing when that ended after the shelter was built.  We cannot go back to those difficult days.”

A vote “yes” on the April 29 parish-wide proposition does not introduce a new tax into the parish.  Voting “yes” means that the shelter will continue to operate for the benefit of Sabine Parish and its many unwanted or neglected pets.

The cost of the property tax is anything but outrageous.  A property owner whose home is assessed at $100,000 will pay only $16.70 per year and only $4.18 if the property is under homestead exemption.  Houses assessed under $70,000 will not pay the tax.

The tax money generated goes toward a number of expenses including utilities such as water, sewer, and electricity; liability and property insurance, food for the animals, veterinary services, facility maintenance and upkeep, kennel supplies, and personnel.

In the six years since the shelter was opened, they have taken in an astounding 12,000 animals.  Over 2,400 of those animals were sent to over 200 different rescue agencies throughout the United States.  There have been a total of 1,950 adoptions and 332 animals returned to their rightful owners.

Maintaining a viable animal shelter is also a public health concern, as their aggressive spay and neuter efforts cut down immensely on stray animals causing problems.  Their maintaining the health of effected animals also serves as a front line of battle against diseases that can be spread from animal populations to humans

According to shelter director Ellen Abington, they have received calls on a number of rumors that are not true.  The biggest among them is that the shelter can operate without the tax money. 

She encourages anyone with questions to give them a call before the election, or to stop by and see how the shelter is run.  It is located at 520 McDonald Drive in Many and is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday.  They can be reached at sabinehumanesociety.com or by calling 318-256-2275.


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