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Volunteer organization upset with lack of communication about changes to policy, hours

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday amended its animal control ordinance by waiving the 5-day impoundment requirement for owner-surrendered litters of puppies and kittens to allow their immediate adoption.

The board also shortened the operating hours at the city’s animal shelter from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both changes came at the request of assistant public works director Jeff Richardson, who is over the shelter.

Vicksburg’s animal control ordinance requires a five-day waiting period before animals brought to the shelter can be adopted. Richardson wanted to waive that restriction on litters of puppies and kittens under 14 weeks old brought to the shelter by individuals to make it easier to adopt them.

Changing the ordinance, he said, would allow puppies and kittens to be adopted sooner, “And we can get them out of there and they don’t have to spend time and possibly get sick.”

Presently, he said, the shelter’s highest death rate is among puppies and kittens.

“We don’t have the facilities to take care of young puppies and kittens, and we can adopt those out. Usually, the puppies and kittens are the easiest to adopt out. The young ones, it’s (the shelter) not a good place for them, so this is to try and get them out of there quicker.”

Richardson asked to change the operating hours at the shelter because the Vicksburg Police Department closes down its bookkeeping at 4 p.m. People who adopt animals at the shelter pay the adoption fees at the police station, he said, and if they come to he shelter after 4 p.m., they would not be able to pay the adoption fee.

Also, he said, animal control is a small department, and under the present operating schedule, it is hard to schedule people if someone is absent. Moving it back to 4 p.m., he said, would make it easier on the department.

Darlene Hughes, founder of Passionate for Rescue, the volunteer group that works at the shelter to help exercise and adopt the animals, said Richardson did not tell her about the time change.

“He didn’t say anything to me. He said we were on (operating) hours, temporary, to 3:30,” she said.

“I have to work during the day. The volunteer hours are from 1 to 3 (p.m.), who can get there in the middle of the day?”

She said volunteers are unable to get to the shelter until late afternoon.

Keeping the hours to 5 p.m., she said, would allow people to look at the animals, “And they can go to the police station the next day (to pay the fees).

“That’s just plain stupid. They don’t need the police station to open for people to come visit the dogs, and the volunteers can be down there getting the dogs out.”

Hughes said she agreed with waiving the waiting period on litters of puppies and kittens brought by individuals to the shelter. “That’s great; I’m good with that.”

She said she plans to appear before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to discuss the hours of operation. “I’m not for that time one bit,” she said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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