INDIANAPOLIS — Crime, public safety and our economy continue to be top issues for Marion County voters as they look at the upcoming elections and race for Indianapolis mayor.
But after our investigation on Indianapolis Animal Care Services aired, our viewers asked us to dive deeper into animal welfare and how the candidates plan to address the crisis.
The feedback from our special investigation into the IACS crisis had one central theme: “keep shining light on this issue.”
Viewers and volunteers are frustrated that a proposed new animal care facility has not been built, too many cats and dogs are being euthanized, and bad animal owners aren’t being held accountable.
Candidates respond on IACS
At a mayoral forum last month, a Marion County voter asked Mayor Joe Hogsett and candidate Jefferson Shreve how they would fix the crisis.
“What we have today from an animal care services standpoint is simply shameful,” Shreve responded.
“It is a priority of the administration, and I am proud that for a number of years during my administration we have set record adoptions,” Hogsett said.
We offered Hogsett and Shreve equal time to lay out their plans. Hogsett’s team declined and referred as back to our investigation and an interview we did then with the director of the City of Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.
“We all care about animals. The folks that you met with that is part of their identity and part of their purpose in life. It is for us at ACS as well,” said Director Abbey Brand.
Shreve’s plan for IACS
Shreve, on the other hand, agreed to sit down for an interview. He and his wife Mary have owned two rescues and in the past 10 years have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to area shelters. Shreve said if elected mayor, his paycheck will be donated.
“I will donate my salary as mayor of Indianapolis to the charitable arm of Animal Care Services.”
Shreve said he would use his position to demand more prosecutions of bad actors when it comes to those committing crimes against animals. A top priority is building a new animal shelter. He called out Hogsett for promising one but not delivering.
“We need to get off our butt and get going on this replacement shelter because we have marked time for three years and we haven’t turned the first shovel of dirt on the foundation for a replacement facility,” Shreve said.
Shreve believes the planned location for the new facility in the east side neighborhood of Sherman Park is flawed–plagued with environmental issues with $5 million already invested on remediation and more needed. He plans to find a different site, one he says the city can be proud to walk through.
“It embarrasses me to see what we are doing on Harding Street with our own city,” he said.
Shreve upset by conditions, disposals
Shreve recently toured the current facility and believes the overcrowding is inhumane. He wants more vet care for animals awaiting treatment and surgeries. When a volunteer showed him the freezer, he was angered.
“DPW just comes around periodically and collects them, the [animal] corpses, and takes them to the dump, to the dump!”
Although many shelters do dispose of their animals this way, Shreve said cats and dogs should not be put out with the trash. He said he will work to get a sponsorship like Hamilton County. Pet Angel cremates their animals and spreads their ashes on a designated nature trail.
“This is a nonpartisan issue that pulls at the heartstrings, not the party affiliation. Our city is just better than what we evidence in the way we care for animals,” Shreve said. “We are just better than this.”
Ultimately, Shreve wants IACS to be a no-kill shelter. He says it will take more funding but believes he can find the money in the city’s $1.6 billion budget.
It is a goal others at IACS have had in the past, but with thousands of cats and dogs taken in every year, it has not been attainable.
Hogsett released his plan last week in a news release.
It includes a consultant currently producing an action plan to hire more staff, increase funding and launch a community sheltering program.