On March 31, 2014, KPLC's Monica Grimaldi reported a story occurring just a few miles north of Lake Charles in Beauregard Parish, where a resident claims that her neighbor put up a sign threatening to poison her trash because she is tired of neighbor's pets destroying her garbage. The news station interviewed Beauregard Parish Sheriff Ricky Moses for an explanation of how these situations are handled and he did not really give a clear answer. Due to ongoing animal cruelty reports in this rural parish, and the uncovering of several backyard puppymills last year, the residents of Beauregard are finally standing up to report cruelty, threats of cruelty, and neglectful situations. CNN's website also found the story newsworthy and on March 31, they shared the original KPLC story on their "Stories That Shock" page (see link at bottom of this article).
On March 21, 2014, a handmade sign was posted by a female resident on Clifford Felice Road in Ragley, LA, warning neighbors to "contain your animals" or she will be "poisoning" her trash. This resident stated on Facebook that she had contacted the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office (BPSO) to complain about her trash getting scattered daily and that she didn't get much help from them other than inappropriate advice, including a suggestion to "pour bleach in her trash", from whoever answers the phone at BPSO. The resident got no response from BPSO until the media ran the story about her posting the threatening sign. This sign would forever change the lives of a family who are now mourning the loss of their beloved pet, Fluffy. Fluffy was found dead in front of that same disgruntled resident's home the very next day. There is no physical evidence that connects the unhappy resident with Fluffy's death, but Fluffy's owner, Ramona Edwards believes it's no coincidence. An upset neighbor who owns pets posted a written response below the threatening sign saying "We in the country love our animals. The racoons, possums, and other wildlife can't read your hateful sign" (see slideshow).
It seems this community issue regarding pet safety, owner responsibilities, and the state laws of LA, could have been addressed by BPSO immediately, but instead that office has shown they choose not to act unless pressured by media exposure or the excuse that the single animal control officer can't keep up with all the animal related complaints. If that is the case, it seems Beauregard Parish may need to find funds to hire more animal control officers. Actually if they enforced rabies vaccination laws, they could use the funds collected when owners license their pets and hire more animal control officers. It's actually recommended in the LA statutes: "such ordinances may provide for the utilization of the proceeds of dog and cat license fees and fines for the operation of its animal control program or for the effective enforcement of its animal control ordinances" (Source: http://legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=86083). Ramona Edwards reported to me that the animal control Deputy came to her house after the media story and asked to dig up Fluffy's body to do an autopsy, but the veterinarian was unable to get usable tissue due to decomposure. But up until that time, BPSO had allegedly sent no officer out to this rural area of Beauregard Parish to remind residents of state animal laws and to encourage peaceful resolution of this issue. If he had sent the deputy after the first complaint about the trash from the disgrunted resident, then Fluffy and other cats in the area might still be alive. If his office acted on animal control complaints he might avoid more and more crime committed and more bad media.
There are many things that are unpleasant about this scenario where neighbors have found themselves at "war" over pet and wildlife safety. The KPLC reporter spoke to the Beauregard Parish Sheriff, Ricky Moses, who spoke on camera, stating "poisoning trash is not recommended to help animals stay away from trash cans". Sheriff Ricky Moses also stated "investing in proper trash cans and calling animal control when needed is the best way for investigators to help keep residents and their animals safe". Both of these statements have problems.
- The first statement is simply irresponsible because there is a state law in LA stating it is illegal to "Unjustifiably administers any poisonous or noxious drug or substance to any domestic animal or unjustifiably exposes any such drug or substance, with intent that the same shall be taken or swallowed by any domestic animal" (R.S. 14:102.1 Section A.1.g). Because Sheriff Moses has shown a history of choosing not to enforce state laws pertaining to animals, his wording on this issue isn't surprising and seems to confirm his apparent apathy about pet safety in his parish. Louisiana's Animal Cruelty and Protection Laws can be found at www.colaa.org.
- The second statement suggesting that residents call his office to report stray animals getting into trash cans, is also misleading due to the fact that Beauregard Parish has one single "animal control" officer who is limited in his job duties. He is also employed as a deputy of the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office, which was also misconstrued when the Sheriff stated that his office "has a contract with the police jury to work with animal control and says the parish has designated animal control investigators to handle these types of cases". This actually sounds like Sheriff Moses is trying to deflect responsibility onto the Police Jury to enforce animal cruelty laws and that animal control is not his department's responsibility. The enforcement of state laws is the responsibility of the "governing authority" of the parish where cruelty complaints are filed. So it seems that both the Police Jury AND the Sheriff's office are obligated to enforce the state laws, and maybe that means hiring more than one single officer to answer complaints from residents, to enforce state cruelty laws and mandates for animal welfare. Several Louisiana animal welfare statutes are violated regularly in Beauregard Parish including leash laws, lack of rabies vaccination enforcement, lack of enforcement on cruelty related to inhumane confinement and neglect, especially on the property of backyard breeders in Beauregard Parish.
The bottom line is that in south Louisiana, if the voting residents don't hold elected officials accountable to do their jobs, the problems and complaints will remain. This writer will be contacting Sheriff Moses to follow up for clarification of his statements made regarding this story. In the meantime, residents are urged to report all suspected animal cruelty or neglect to the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's office at 337-463-3281, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person at 120 S. Stewart St, Deridder, LA, 70634.
Here is a link to KPLC's full story: Click Here
Here is a link to CNN's posting of the story: Click Here
Remember that animals cannot speak for themselves so it is up to humans to report abuse or mistreatment to local authorities. In previous articles, I have written about multiple animal welfare organizations offering to assist Sheriff Moses by educating him on state animal welfare laws that he is obligated to enforce, offering to foster abused/neglected dogs that he chooses to seize from harmful living conditions, etc so he cannot use the excuse that there is "no room" at the small animal control kennel his officer uses to impound stray dogs and cats. Here are links to those stories about animal suffering in Beauregard Parish:
Here are links to my previous stories on Beauregard Parish animal welfare problems:
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