Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced last week an unprecedented four-year agreement with the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) to provide for animal control services to the city at a monthly cost of $160,000 — or $1.92 million annually — through 2014. Services include stray animal trapping, collection and sheltering; disaster and hurricane assistance; bite case response and quarantine; enforcing the intact dog ordinance; inspecting mule stables; relinquishment of animals; adoption and re-homing for cats and dogs; and euthanasia and cremation for unadoptable animals.
"This is a big win for the residents and animals of New Orleans," said Landrieu in a statement. "The LA/SPCA has been providing quality animal control and enforcement services for decades. ... We are pleased to have a fiscally responsible agreement in place for the next four years." LA/SPCA CEO Ana Zorrilla said, "We look forward to continuing these high quality services our citizens have come to expect for the animals of New Orleans."
The LA/SPCA turned down a $1.7 million contract offer on Dec. 15. The organization said that figure was too small to humanely serve animals in the New Orleans area. LA/SPCA spokesperson Katherine LeBlanc said the new agreement reflects a cut from the requested amount ($2.5 million) and is below the organization's cost of animal control and care, but "we know the animals will be treated up to our standards."
When the LA/SPCA declined the initial contract, the city began fielding offers from other organizations, and reports circulated that a newly formed group, the Humane Society of New Orleans, sought to bid on the contract. The city and the group did not confirm those reports. "The budget process is always tough. ... There's give and take on both sides," said Landrieu press secretary Ryan Berni. "When you're working on a budget, you need to field other alternatives."
With few alternatives to the LA/SPCA, Berni said the city was focused on reaching an agreement for the animal control services that would be "in the best interest of all." Berni added city officials worked through the Christmas holiday to put together the four-year agreement.
The LA/SPCA was founded in 1888 and has served as the city's primary animal control provider for more than 60 years. — Alex Woodward