Last week, the Jefferson Parish Council named Dr. Allison Barca the parish's equine veterinarian for cruelty investigations pending on the West Bank. Barca, a veterinarian of 20 years who runs Barca & Associates veterinary clinic Uptown, provides health care to horses in cruelty and neglect cases handled by the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter. The parish has taken on dozens of horse cruelty cases on the West Bank since July 2010, when outgoing cruelty investigator Kim Staton led investigations into West Bank stables, barns and other places where horses are kept (see Gambit's cover story, "NightMARE," Aug. 2).
Earlier this year, Parish President John Young and the council asked the animal shelter and code enforcement staff to conduct barn sweeps. This year's sweeps on the West Bank inspected more than a dozen barns and yielded several code violations (unsanitary conditions, lack of shelter). One January sweep resulted in the closure of a rental stable in poor condition, according to Young's Chief Administrative Officer Loren Marino.
Staton has worked with the parish since 2009 on a contract basis through the ASPCA and acted as consultant for sanitation and disease prevention issues. Last year she helped the parish animal shelter begin its horse investigations, which led to the seizure of a dozen horses and two foals. She finishes her contract this week.
Of six horses recently placed under parish care, five have been adopted; the sixth died of colic. Meryll Bergeron, who already owns two rescued horses, adopted one of the animals, an Arabian mare. Bergeron thanked Young and Council Chairman Chris Roberts for their roles in the barn sweeps.
The council also agreed to conduct monthly code enforcement sweeps (beyond West Bank barns), specifically as a response to blighted and neglected property complaints. But how to handle frequent violators who won't bow to code? Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee said the recent jump in bankruptcies and foreclosures has increased the parish's blight problem, and District 4 Councilman Louis Congemi said some property owners "taunt" the parish by avoiding court hearings. The parish will announce "general" sweep locations, but won't get too specific. — Alex Woodward