At its next meeting on Wednesday, January 28, the Jefferson Parish Council is scheduled to consider a proposal that will amend the parish’s ordinances that regard the humane treatment of animals. Several parts of the proposal are of concern to the American Kennel Club. Jefferson Parish residents are strongly encouraged to review the proposal and contact the members of the Parish Council with their concerns.
Of specific concern are the following provisions:
- In the proposed changes to Sec. 7-126 (page 1 of .pdf), subsection (d) will require that no animal shall be left inside a vehicle or in a crate/carrier while unattended. While the AKC appreciates any policy attempting to ensure that no animal is neglected, especially in extreme weather conditions, the proposed ban fails to consider the ways dogs may be reasonably and safely contained and controlled in certain circumstances, including while hunting and at AKC-sanctioned events, like at the Lagniappe Cluster of Dog Shows that takes place annually at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center. A more reasonable alternative would permit reasonable containment during acceptable weather conditions or provided appropriate temperature control with regular monitoring of conditions.
- Proposed changes to Sec. 7-128 (page 2), subsection (a)(7)(i) prohibits any person from placing “any animal on public display for the purpose of sale, offer for sale, barter or giveaway upon any street, sidewalk, parking lot, shopping center walkway or other public place.” (Emphasis added.) The AKC believes this wording is overbroad and if enacted and enforced can effectively ban rescue and shelter groups from offering unwanted animals for sale (or “adoption”) at Pet Fest, held every year at Lafreniere Park, or at other similar events.
- The proposed revamping of Section 7-129 (pages 3-5) requires that individuals charged with animal cruelty and whose animal is seized must within 15 days post bond for the animal/s care. The proceeds of the bond would be effective for 30 days, and would require renewal for every 30 days during the pendency of the case. Failure to do so would allow the Parish Animal Shelter to place the seized animal for adoption, fostering, or euthanization. In effect, if the person charged failed to the pay the bond amount, their rights would be permanently forfeited, regardless of whether the defendant was eventually found not guilty or charges against them were dismissed. While incurring high costs to defend themselves in a criminal proceeding, it is likely that paying daily care costs far greater than what a defendant would usually incur could prove an impossible burden to meet. In cases where a verdict of innocence was reached or charges were dropped, a defendant unable to pay would effectively have had their property permanently taken by the government, with no recourse. The AKC believes that the proposal should be amended to allow waiver of the bond requirements for indigent defendants who prove they are unable to pay the required bond costs pending resolution of their case.
- Proposed Sec. 7-129 (b)(1)(vi) would allow the animal shelter to place a seized animal for adoption, foster, or euthanasia, for “humane purposes” regardless of whether a bond was posted. The AKC believes that this is unreasonable. In the alternative, when a person or interested party has met the bond requirements (or, as recommended above, in cases involving a proven indigent defendant in which the bond requirement is waived), permanent disposition of a seized animal should only take place upon the judgment of a court.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
First, concerned local kennel clubs and residents of Jefferson Parish are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Jefferson Parish Council and Jefferson Parish President, respectfully express any concerns they may have, and request amendments to the proposal that will alleviate those concerns.
Chairman Christopher L. Roberts, Councilman-at-Large, Division A – ChrisRoberts@JeffParish.net
Deano Bonano, Assistant (East Bank), DBonano@JeffParish.net
Brett J. Lawson, Assistant (West Bank), BJLawson@JeffParish.net
Elton M. Lagasse, Councilman-at-Large, Division B – EltonLagasse@JeffParish.net
John F. Young, Jr., Parish President – JohnYoung@jeffparish.net
P: (504) 364-2700
F: (504) 364-2828
Second, concerned residents are encouraged to attend Wednesday’s meeting of the Parish Council and express their concerns. The meeting will take place at 10AM in the Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, of the General Government Building, 200 Derbigny Street, Gretna, LA 70053.
AKC’s Government Relations Department will continue monitoring developments in Jefferson Parish. For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At its next meeting on Wednesday, January 28, the Jefferson Parish Council…