Like other areas of the state, Washington Parish has numerous animal complaints. Most complaints received by the Sheriff’s Office involve dogs, but there are also occasional calls about other animals.
While Washington Parish does not have an ordinance pertaining to dogs, there is state law concerning dogs running at large. Louisiana Revised Statute 3:2271 states, “No person shall suffer or permit any dog in his possession, or kept by him about his premises, to run at large on any unenclosed land, or trespass upon any enclosed or unenclosed lands of another.”
Quite simply, this is known as a “leash law” and requires that all dogs must be kept within a fenced area. If the dog is not within a fenced area, the dog must be restrained on a leash and under the control of a responsible person. This state law applies whether the dog is in a municipality or in an unincorporated area. The law makes no distinction.
Dog complaints are varied. The most common complaints regard unwanted dogs being dropped off in a community or neighborhood. These dogs often are hungry and create a nuisance by scattering garbage while looking for food. Abandoning dogs or other animals is a violation of Louisiana Revised Statute 14:102 (2) which defines cruelty to animals as forsaking or deserting an animal without making reasonable arrangements for its proper care, sustenance, and shelter.
State law also addresses the issue of ownership of a dangerous or vicious dog. Dangerous dogs are defined by Louisiana Revised Statute 14:102.14 (B) (C) which makes it “unlawful for any person to own a dangerous dog without properly restraining or confining the dog.” The state law goes on to say, “A dangerous dog, while on the owner’s property, shall, at all times, be kept indoors, or in a secure enclosure.”
Revised statute 14:102.15 defines a vicious dog as “any dog which, when unprovoked, in an aggressive manner, inflicts serious bodily injury on or kills a human being and was previously determined to be a dangerous dog.”
All offenses committed against animals carry criminal penalties. So too do offenses committed by dogs who are not properly restrained and who create problems for others. Those penalties are assessed against the owner of the offending dog. In all cases, penalties vary according to the severity of the offense.
Animal offenses are contained within Title 14 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, including cockfighting as well as hog and canine fighting. Any person wishing to look at any Louisiana law should go to www.legis.la.gov. Once the website is displayed, click on Laws. On the next page, click on Table of Contents and then Revised Statutes. All Louisiana laws are then displayed according to category. Animal laws are found in Title 14.
When animal complaints are made to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy will respond. Action taken by the deputy depends on each individual situation and could result in a citation being issued to the dog’s owner.
In situations when an animal is intentionally injured or killed, the Sheriff’s Office will investigate in an attempt to identify the guilty party. Once the guilty party is identified, he/she faces the possibility of arrest.
At this time, there is no animal shelter in Washington Parish. Attempts are being made by parish government to establish one. If this is done, it will be a great asset to everyone in the parish.
Sheriff Randy Seal asks all animal owners to use common sense in the management of their animals. “We have small animals at the Seal house and they bring lots of pleasure. Enjoy your animals, but try to make certain they are not a nuisance to your neighbor. Always be certain your animals are up to date on their vaccinations and health checkups and try to make certain they remain on your property unless properly restrained. Intentional cruelty to animals is never acceptable and we will investigate all such allegations and take whatever action is appropriate.”