Commissioners

Commissioners

Mary Lee Oliphant
Chairman of LAWC

Mary Lee Oliphant is the current Chairman of the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission. She was appointed to the commission in 2002, as the Commercial Dog Breeder representative. Mary Lee has previously held the positions of Vice- Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. Mary Lee has bred, exhibited, and trained Showboat Collies for over 30 years in the Greater New Orleans Area. She has served as an officer and member of several Louisiana Dog Hobby Clubs, and presently serves as President of the Collie Club of Louisiana, Board Member of the Northlake Kennel Club, and a Volunteer Trainer and Herding Trial Chairman for the Deep South All Breed Obedience Training Club. Mary Lee exhibits her Collies in Agility, Herding, Conformation, Obedience, Rally and Tracking. She, and two of her collies, volunteered for 6 years with the Help! Search & Rescue Team in St. Tammany Parish. Mary Lee has been awarded nearly 100 AKC titles and produced 9 champion Rough Collies. Her homebred Showboat Collies reside across the country from California to Connecticut. Mary Lee and her five collies reside in St Tammany Parish, just North of her New Orleans birth place. Mary Lee is a licensed Realtor Associate with Gardner, Rea- tors, Inc. for over 25 years and specializes in helping people with pets move.

Dr. Gary Balsamo
Co-Chair of LAWC

Dr. Gary Balsamo is the State Public Health Veterinarian, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and the Assistant State Epidemiologist at the Louisiana Office of Public Health.

Dr. Balsamo is responsible for overseeing the surveillance of rabies and other zoonotic diseases in the state of Louisiana. He serves as a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ representative on the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission. Dr. Balsamo is the past-president of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission and has served on the commission for 14 years. He is responsible for the creation and development of the Louisiana Animal Welfare Shelter Inspection Program. He has assisted the commission in implementing the LAWC spay & neuter grant program, conducts training programs for local law enforcement and animal control agencies, and has worked with local governing authorities across the state to educate them on importance of rabies compliance.

Hilton Cole
Commissioner

Hilton Cole is the Director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control & Rescue Center. He is the past President of the Louisiana Animal Control & Care Association and has served on the commission since it’s inception. Hilton is considered an exceptional leader in his field of Animal Control & Sheltering. He is an expert in investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty cases to include cockfighting, dangerous animals, and dogfighting.

Juanita Murphy
Treasurer

Juanita Murphy has been a leader in animal welfare work in Natchitoches Parish for almost a decade. She currently serves as the President of the Natchitoches Humane Society. Juanita served as the Project Director and lead designer in creating the Happy TAILS Rescue for the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center. She is active in coordinating and participating in educational seminars and conferences for the ASPCA, HSUS, L.A.C.A, Heart of Louisiana Humane Society, and the Natchitoches Humane Society. She has work to create community initiatives to improve local shelters and increase education on spay/neuter and heartworm disease prevention. She coordinated the first Natchitoches Citizen Forum to educate and inspire citizens to become part of the solution in solving local animal welfare issues. Juanita has been instrumental in organizing and assisting the Louisiana State Police Department in creating a Defensive Tactics officer training program.

She has served on the commission for 3 years and currently holds the office of treasurer.

Additional Members

Major Paul Edmonson
Louisiana State Police, Special Investigations Division 

Dr. A. Phillip Dupont
LVMA/Dupont Veterinary Clinic

Joelle Rupert
Humane Organization

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