Service dog group speaks

Published 9:33 pm Friday, November 27, 2015

At the Nov. 23 Washington Parish Council meeting at the parish courthouse, council members heard a presentation from Bill Barse of Doggone Express. The all-volunteer organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which uses inmates to train service dogs for veterans with disabilities.

The dogs work with veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, autism, sight and hearing problems and various other ailments. That program is called “Companion for Life.”

Doggone Express has moved to Washington Parish. Barse networks with parish officials about the stray problem.

“We’re supporting parish government in helping the Washington Parish Animal Shelter get completed and become operational,” Barse said.
Barse said the organization has four programs.

“From the Big House to Your House” is a program in which Doggone Express officials take shelter dogs into prisons where inmates work with them to become service dogs.

The “Paws for Change” program is associated adjudicated youth. The youth work with servie and shelter dogs in the hope the youth change their ways.

“With the Lighthouse Project, we would like to build a school in the Mount Hermon area where veterans can stay for up to eight months and train service dogs in the country,” Barse said.

For more information about the organization, visit its website at

As in past meetings, Washington Parish President Richard Thomas spoke on the seemingly never-ending problem of having to replace parish road signs.  The signs are routinely stolen.

Thomas also announced the resignation of Walter Smith from the board of the Washington Parish Fire District No. 9. Colston Martin was reappointed to the board.

The council also recognized the passing of former Planning Commission member Claude Bloom.

Later in the meeting, Thomas read a Thanksgiving proclamation. The theme of the proclamation was that God has a hand in everything we do.

Washington Parish Director of Public Works Leo Lucchesi said the concrete slab for the Washington Parish government offices expansion should be poured by Dec. 10. The expansion will house more administration offices and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Regarding agenda items, the council:

• Approved the nomination of Kendrick Stewart to the Washington Parish Planning Commission.

• Introduced an ordinance to adopt the 2016 annual operating budget and capital outlay budget for the parish government. The ordinance will be the subject of public participation and vote by the council at the next scheduled meeting on Dec. 14.