ASCENSION PARISH, La. (BRPRPOUD) — The Ascension Parish Government remains hard at work trying to find a location for a new animal shelter to keep up with the growing demands of lost animals throughout the parish.

Tuesday evening, the Ascension Parish Government held a meeting about the new shelter.

According to Ascension Parish Government Chief of Staff Ruth Phillips, finding a property in the area that fits their zoning and budget has been difficult. The facility needs at least five acres of land.

The new facility could be located off North Burnside Avenue in Gonzales. It would be fully climate controlled and soundproof. It was also said that the facility will be a probable home to around 97 dogs and 126 cats. Food will be stored separately in food containers inside the new building.

Ascension Parish Government holds meeting to discuss new shelter plans

The Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension, known as CARA’s House is the only facility to hold cats and dogs for the parish for extended periods of time. The new upcoming shelter will replace the facility once built. Many employees and volunteers involved in local animal rescues and shelters believe it’s good that the parish is addressing the issues but the proposed facility won’t be big enough.

Jonathan Henriques, operations director of Rescue Alliance, has been turning down dozens of calls daily to people in the area who want to drop off animals at his nonprofit organization.

Henriques says the increase in lost animals in the parish has grown throughout the years. Shelters like Rescue Alliance and CARA’s House have long outgrown space to hold these animals.

“Without the ability to take in these animals, there’s pretty much one of two options,” says Henriques “either abandoning somewhere or they take them somewhere to get euthanized.”

Another problem that CARA’s House has faced is flooding inside the shelter.

One of the attendants at Tuesday’s meeting was Cindy Peterson, a longtime volunteer at Cara’s House. She said when Hurricane Ida hit their area, they had to move all their animals and food to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

Currently, the city-parish has a contract with CARA’s house until 2025, to help move all the employees into the new facility once it is built.

The new building and its operations will be funded by a million-dollar property tax that’s been collected since 2019, generating around $1.3 million dollars.

The parish partnered with Shelter Planners of America, a large company that designs shelters nationwide. The city showed different types of floor plans and architectural designs.

Ruth said that last year, it was estimated that the building would cost around $6 million to $10 million. She says with inflation and the higher cost, that those prices could have changed.

Until a new location is finalized and voted on, the Ascension Parish Government can’t break ground. The parish hopes to have a new location soon and complete the project by the end of 2024.

Click here if you are interested in donating to the Rescue Alliance.