DESOTO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The DeSoto Parish Animal Shelter is at risk of closing or drastically reducing operations after voters rejected a property tax proposal in April that would have maintained funding.

The rejection of the 1-mill property tax proposal for the animal shelter and mosquito control leaves the facility with just enough funding through the end of the year.

“It’s been very hard for staff and morale as we are moving forward. We are aware of a couple of scenarios, one is either significant funding cut back of our budget or a possible closure altogether,” shelter director Connie Philipp said.

Phillip said the shelter costs more than $600,000 to operate and houses around 50 to 55 animals who have been abandoned, picked up as strays, or surrendered. The failure of the tax proposal effectively cuts the department’s budget in half, which could impact the staffing and shelter capacity, and Phillip says the police jury has not been supportive of finding the money in the budget to make up for it.

“There have always been jurors that have never wanted the shelter, they don’t support it. They would rather the dollars go into human programs.”

District 6 Police Juror Rodriguez Ross is one of the few police jurors who supports finding a way to keep the shelter operating but says the rejection of the property tax proposal in combination with declining property values makes finding the money difficult.

Still, both agree the need for a shelter and animal control services will continue with or without funding.

“I’d only heard about the days before the shelter existed and there were a lot more strays out there, and there were a lot more animals hit by cars on the side of the road,” said Phillip.

And while she and her staff are trying to stay optimistic, Philip says they are planning for the worst-case scenario.

“My plan is if they decide to shut us down, we will stop bringing any animals in and start getting these guys out to rescues and adoptions.”

Philips said if they are defunded, they would need donations and sponsorships from the community to stay afloat.