OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) St. Landry Parish Animal Control has a new director after the previous director, Terri Courvelle, was fired.  

Spencer Carnette, who has 22 years of law enforcement experience and previously worked in the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, was appointed by Parish President Jessie Bellard.

“With my law enforcement experience, and with the neglect and abuse of animals, people will be prosecuted, and we will come and look for you if animals are neglected or abused in this parish.”

Carnette says he needs some time to learn the daily operations, but so far, he has met with other animal control employees for their input on improving the facility and their jobs.

He says many great things are coming forward for the animals.

“We plan on moving forward for maybe another facility in the future. A bigger and better facility.”

Bellard said his decision in picking the new director goes back to ensuring that the animals are well cared for at the shelter.

“We needed to have somebody in that position who understood the laws and ordinances of our parish so we could do a better job enforcing them, that’s number one, and then a better job of caring for the dogs who are neglected or abused.” 

Regarding putting animals down, Bellard says, “unless the need arises by way of medical treatment or if the vet claims that they need to be put down, it’s better for them to be put down than actually suffer.” 

Furthermore, he adds, it is an expense to put animals down. 

“People need to realize the other side of this Animal Control facility. It costs Parish government roughly $550K a year for animal control. Out of a $1.2 to $1.3M budget that’s allocated for health unit and the reason we have that animal control facility is to control rabies, we actually do a lot more than most parishes do with the funds that we have available, but we’re at the end. I mean, you get to $550K in animal control budget you have to make sure you do the right thing every single time.” 

Therefore, he said they are trying to stay within budget and ensure everything is within the law.

News 10 asked about the firing of the previous Animal Control director.

Bellard says he could not discuss Courville’s termination because it was a personnel issue.

He did, however, say that since 2004, the Animal Control director position has seen some turnover.  

“You can always find somebody who cares and loves animals, but what you have a hard time finding is a person who cares and loves for an animal and doesn’t let that outweigh the legal requirement and what the legal system requires you to have.”

“Every director that was there that I had to work with never was told no, said Bellard. The directors that were there, the director that was there previously, took care of animals and did everything she possibly could for these animals, but she had to get permission from somebody to make that happen, and that came from me. So yeah, we do care for animals. I just don’t want any issues with that in the court system. I don’t want to have any issues with that in the public eye, but I do my thing and do my job to the best of my ability, and nobody’s going to ever say that I’m not caring for these animals because that’s not true.” 

News 10 reached out to Terri Courvelle about her termination.

Because we could not accommodate her wishes to do a live interview, she declined to add comments.