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Statement From St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper on the St. Tammany Parish Department of Animal Services

We are aware of the stories circulating on Social Media about our St. Tammany Parish Animal Shelter. Many residents have contacted us with their concerns as well. I have personally spoken with many people who have voiced their concerns. Since taking office, I have been gathering information regarding all Parish Government Departments. At Animal Services, I have been evaluating their processes and protocols, addressing staffing needs, and learning about where deficiencies may exist to identify areas that need improvement as we work to finalize our Strategic Plan. As a result, changes will be forthcoming soon for the benefit of the welfare of the animals at the shelter, the dedicated employees, and St. Tammany Parish as a whole. I have been committed to making changes and I recognize there are deficiencies that must be addressed.  These are the changes that are already in progress:

Shortly after taking office, I authorized an independent animal welfare group to visit and evaluate the Shelter and make recommendations. While this visit was originally scheduled for May, it was pushed back due to COVID-19. This visit will take place within the next few weeks.

We are actively seeking a new Director of Animal Services as part of our plan moving forward to address staffing. This appointed position is posted on our website to fill the current vacancy. I invite qualified candidates to apply.

I have been seeking input from local veterinarians, animal welfare groups, and invested parties into how we can improve operations at the Shelter and we are reviewing best practices from other public Animal Shelters to determine if there are protocols and processes we can adopt to implement in our own Shelter.

We have a working strategic plan which we are finalizing, and expect to continue to build upon as we grow and improve.

We are purposely assessing the situation in an in-depth and methodical way, so that we retain the processes that work, and improve in the areas that do not, to implement lasting change and so that we can make this shelter the model shelter we know it can become. It is my ultimate goal to work toward a day when animals will not suffer because of abuse and neglect, and that every pet born into our community is assured a good home and loving care its entire life. We will continue to work to ensure the legal protection of animals from mistreatment and to promote in our community responsible pet ownership through education, motivation, and enforcement. 

I would like to thank the dedicated employees at the Animal Shelter who are committed every day to the continued care of the animals in their charge. I would also like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we move to bring new leadership and make improvements. 

 

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