Allan “Sprinky” Durand, in his first night on the job as city attorney, explained that the amendments give Mark Girouard a mechanism to confiscate mistreated or at-large livestock while exempting residents who have responsibly boarded horses or cattle within the city limits over the past 10 years.
The existing ordinance provided an exemption for properties of a certain size but was silent or nearly so with respect to enforcement.
At the urging of City Councilman Mike Fuselier, the council agreed to consider at its next meeting further amendment that would make the keeping of livestock in the future subject to a variance as with most zoning issues.
“If the people on both sides and in the back and across the street are OK with it, then it’s my policy to grant it,” Fuselier said.
Councilman Craig Prosper said he would go along with a variance procedure as long as the council has the means to revoke it if complaints arise or the situation otherwise deteriorates.
Councilman Ronald Charles argued against the grandfather clause. “We need to decide whether we’re going to have it or not going to have it,” he said. “In my district, I’ve seen quite a few (horses) and only received one complaint.”
Charles cast the only nay vote on the set of amendments.
Arguing against the measure in general was SMILE’s parish manager Paulma Johnson, who noted that keeping and riding horses provide a diversion for youths who might otherwise be attracted to less wholesome activities. “Horses have been a plus for those young people,” he said. “Why punish the whole city for two or three horses?”
Johnson argued that there are other means for dealing with animal cruelty, but Girouard said that under the existing ordinance he has little authority and no recourse.
“The parish told me they can’t do anything in town,” he said.
Girouard said he has seen situations where horses have been staked out in suburban back yards eating Bermuda grass until that was all gone and then reduced to eating dirt.
“It’s inhumane,” he said. “You gotta have money to feed horses.”