Archive for the ‘Local Agencies’ Category

Shelters and rescues — are you driving away adopters and supporters?

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Time and again, people who tried to adopt from a shelter or rescue have told mtA that they were turned away for bizarre reasons. These are both disturbing and counter-productive to the mission of finding good homes for animals. For example:

• A family is denied a dog because they have a child (or children) with special needs. Their previous dog lived a good long life and died of cancer. This was a potential good home. A call from the rescue to this family’s veterinarian would confirm this.

• An older woman and her daughter visit an adoption center east of Indianapolis, wanting to meet a dog in full view that attracts their attention. They are denied because “The dog’s napping now and we can’t wake it up.” When the daughter asked, “When will it not be napping?” she is told, “I don’t know, you’ll just have to come back when it’s not.” This was a potential good home.

• This same woman and daughter visit another local shelter that has many dogs and cats, but are allowed to look at only one dog. They leave. This was a potential good home for an animal in need.

• A family is denied a dog because they don’t have a fenced-in yard. Their previous dog, who had died of old age, was always leashed when outside and was taken for daily walks and/or runs. This was a potential good home. A call to this family’s DVM would confirm this.

• A family visits a local humane society and enters the area of puppies and small dogs who are available for adoption. When inquiring about a particular dog, they are told that none of these dogs are available for adoption. This was a potential good home.

Where do these people turn? To a breeder or pet store, often spending $3,000 – $5,000 for a dog who may well be the product of a puppy mill, while dogs in need die in shelters. Hello? Is anybody home?

Shelters and rescues MUST have guidelines to protect animals from unscrupulous people, and we acknowledge (and applaud!) legitimate concern for the animal’s welfare and safety. But individual circumstances must also be taken into account. Has the child interacted well with other pets? Has the adopter demonstrated responsibility in protecting a dog without a fenced yard? Rules cannot be so rigid that they defeat the purpose.

Volunteers are also rejected

This may be the saddest tale of all.

A woman is drawn to a fearful dog on a humane organization’s website. She would like to visit and read to the dog in her cage. When she comes to the facility and offers her help, she is refused access to the dog…but before she leaves, she is asked for a donation. Here is her account:

One dog in particular had caught my attention: a young female Mastiff mix, “Lola”, was in desperate need of socialization. Her interactions with humans had been few, and she was described as “terrified” and hiding in her kennel. (Doesn’t that description pull at your heart?)

My daughter had adopted a German Shepherd mix who had previously been labeled as “fearful”. A woman who specializes in fearful dogs had fostered her for almost a year before placing her with our daughter. I remember that “Allie” came into our family with a myriad of issues, but after a LONG time, she has acclimated to being a wonderful, and smart, family pet. I shudder to think what would have happened to Allie if someone hadn’t taken the time with her…..

So, armed with a bag of treats and a novel to read, I approached the “Society”. My intent was to volunteer to spend time with Lola 4-5 times weekly for 6 weeks, if she hadn’t yet been adopted. A very low-key attempt to socialize a terrified dog.

I approached the receptionist at the desk and explained why I was there. She looked up Lola on her computer and stated, “That dog is in our Canine Treatment Center, and is unavailable to the public.” I knew that Lola had returned from a one-week foster situation, so I inquired what was the issue? I was told she had a respiratory problem, and again, that she was “not available to the public”.

At that, a very awkward pause ensued. I was not asked if I would be willing to help elsewhere, or if I wanted to see another dog, or if there was anything else I could do. I stammered out that I would leave the bag of treats as a contribution, and made my exit. I definitely felt unwelcome, and that I was an intruder. Silly me, I had thought that the “Society” would welcome any help, and that there was always a need for volunteers.

So, was it me? Did I approach it wrong? Should I have done something differently? I know that the Society wants my money, just maybe not ME, as my mailbox has received several solicitations from them for money.

Occurrences like these leave animals who need homes held hostage by myopic policies and practices that drive supporters and adopters away.

Is your rescue, shelter or humane society failing to project a fundamental spirit of customer service and hospitality? Is there a lack of urgency to make a match that will move a homeless animal into a good home and make room for another? If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, it’s time to ask what the TRUE purpose is. Is turning away a potentially good adopter what that animal wants? Or is it what your organization wants?

Do you want to support pet stores, puppy mills and breeders? Or do you want to support the animals in your care who desperately need a forever home?

Who’s there for the English Bulldogs?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Butler University’s mascot “Blue” is one lucky dog. He has the fame and fortune of having a loving home and great care. Not so for many of his brothers and sisters. Who’s there for them?

Central Indiana has many small, all volunteer rescues that are challenged attracting the public’s attention and support. One that has escaped our attention until recently is Dixie’s Voice Bulldog Rescue.

We asked Dixie’s Voice to tell their story in their own words:

About Dixie’s Voice Bulldog Rescue Inc. We are a not-for-profit organization that was founded on the idea of helping Bulldogs in need of rescue.

We are a small group of volunteers who love and care about the welfare of Bulldogs. Our goal is to rehabilitate and re-home Bulldogs who come to us from animal shelters, families, puppy mills, breeders and other less than ideal situations.

We are a breed specific rescue, and only take English Bulldogs . We place them in foster homes, where they are cared for and loved until a suitable home is found. We all have fulltime jobs, families and other commitments, but we continue to make room in our hearts and homes for unwanted and neglected Bulldogs in need of rescue. We take great pride educating the public about this fun loving breed, to adopt and never shop. The breed that we love is compromised daily for profit not confirmation, all of our bulldogs are spayed and neutered before adoption. All of us dream of a world where rescue is no longer needed. We are especially happy to find new volunteers who share our commitment to the breed. We run on donations and volunteers and are always low on both.

Please visit our website to see our adoptabull’s and to read Dixie’s Story. Dixie passed in July of 2016 of a brain tumor, she was rescued in 2010.


If you know someone with a passion for English Bulldogs, please share and let them know about this live saving organization. Blue?

Donations? Always welcome. Visit here to learn more.

Kudos to Muncie shelter for Just One Day event

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

A rousing cheer for the Muncie Animal Shelter, which is staying open for 24 hours in hopes of finding good homes for the 140 animals currently housed there. The Just One Day marathon adoption event ends at midnight on June 11 or when the shelter runs out of animals, says director Phil Peckinpaugh.

Adoption fees during the Muncie event are just $11, which includes microchipping, spay or neuter surgery and vaccinations. The Muncie shelter has promised that no healthy animals will be killed during this time. Check out their Facebook page to see how it’s going:

Just One Day, held annually on June 11, focuses public attention on the number of animals killed in shelters by proclaiming one day in which no healthy adoptable animals will die. Last year, 13,000 pets were saved at shelters that participated in this nationwide event.

mtA salutes the Muncie Animal Shelter for standing up for animals. And we wonder — why did the Indianapolis area shelters not participate?

Maybe next year?

A Critter’s Chance rescues tiny survivors from wrecked truck

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Shortly after leaving the Rescue Rally Awards presentation on Friday, February 20, Kelly Thomas of A Critter’s Chance received word that a truck carrying 200 small mammals and birds had overturned on a Michigan highway. The animals were en route from Rainbow World Exotics, apparently for sale to pet stores.

Only 50 of the 200 animals survived. Amanda Nosie and Thomas Moore of A Critter’s Chance drove to Michigan to pick up 39 hamsters, gerbils and mice, and found conditions inside the truck deplorable.

Truck turn over 2

There appeared to be no heat. The truck carried food and a water system, but no food or water was available to the animals in their cages. Many had obviously been dead before the truck overturned; some had been partially eaten by the starving survivors.

Volunteers with A Critter’s Chance collected the tiny animals and brought them back to Indianapolis, where they are now safe and warm with plenty of food, water and appropriate habitat. A Critter’s Chance is seeking additional foster homes for them until they all can be adopted.

Like all the small, all-volunteer rescues, A Critter’s Chance operates on a shoestring and the generosity and love of its volunteers. In addition to exotic animal rescue, they are also active in wildlife rehabilitation. While many of the animals they help will fit in your pocket, they’ve also rescued horses, potbellied pigs, all types of birds, goats, and snakes of every size. The group is extremely grateful for your donations, which go directly to care for the animals. To donate, adopt, or learn more about A Critter’s Chance, please visit their website.

Rainbow World Exotics has been cited repeatedly by animal welfare activists for cruel and careless treatment of the animals it sells. Conditions there have been compared to those of puppy mills. But the only way to stop the cruelty is to stop the demand.

These small animals are often impulse purchases — trendy pets or chosen for children by parents who think they will be easy to care for. When the novelty wears off or the cost of care is greater than expected, these little creatures are too often considered disposable. The lucky ones wind up with A Critter’s Chance.

When shopping for a small animal, bird or snake, keep in mind that virtually all of these animals sold in pet stores come from horrid conditions not unlike puppy mills. Buying an exotic animal from a pet store perpetuates the unseen suffering. Encourage anyone you know who is interested in one of these creatures to adopt from a rescue organization like A Critter’s Chance and save a life.

Dining For the Dogs (& Cats, too!) a delight!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Many thanks to the 50+ folks who joined move to ACT at the Milano Inn on December 7 to support Rescue Rally and the efforts of small, all-volunteer rescue groups! We’re especially glad that city-county councilors Zach Adamson and Christine Scales could join us. These two have been vital voices on the Council, keeping a spotlight on the issue of critical resources that the city administration continually denies Animal Care & Control.

Special thanks also to the Milano Inn, which donated a portion of the evening’s profits to Rescue Rally, and to their staff: Chef John White, who prepared a spectacular buffet, and servers Angela, Lauren, Nolan, Kevin and J.J., who performed admirably. Harpist Elizabeth Ahlgrim provided wonderful dinner music — thank you, Elizabeth!

This annual event raises funds and awareness for the under-recognized, all-volunteer rescue organization in Indianapolis. Nine such groups are competing in Rescue Rally 2014, and these nine groups have already rescued 688 animals in the first 11 months of the year. Here are the figures from IACC:

ARPO – 232
Casa del Toro – 47
Critters Chance – 54
Every Dog Counts -121
IndyCLAW – 21
Love of Labs Indy – 12
Lucky Dog Retreat Rescue – 91
Mended Hearts – 91
Tails and Trails – 19

These 688 animals represent 12.5% of the 5,496 live transfers out of IACC between January 1 and November 30 — an impressive effort by these small rescues with no paid staff!

Large animal welfare organizations enjoy high-profile branding and name recognition. They often have the political clout to lure sponsorship and large donations from multi-million dollar foundations and corporations.

Small groups like those competing in Rescue Rally lack such advantages, but their life-saving efforts are making a real difference.

The goal of both? That no healthy or treatable animal should die for convenience, space, or lack of resources.

Acting together…..creating results.

Recommendations for Indianapolis Animal Care and Control improvements continue to be ignored

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

We’re grateful to Indianapolis Star journalist Brian Eason for his expose on the woes of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control on Sunday, November 16. Headlined “Animal neglect? For years, Indy ignored recommendations”, the front-page article called attention to the long-standing problems at IACC…..again. And sadly, the city administration’s response was the same as it’s been every time the issue has been raised.

“The problem,” Valerie Washington, deputy director of the Department of Public Safety, is quoted as saying, “is that money isn’t easy to find.”

The sad fact is that Ms Washington apparently is either unaware of what is going on with the city’s slush fund (read tax payers’ money) or she is thinking the audience is naïve and is purposely misleading the public. Perhaps she needs to follow the mtA blog? Had she read the mtA blog post, “Ask your Councilor – where is the money going?” she would be aware that plenty of taxpayer money has been found to fund all sorts of pet projects.

It doesn’t appear that money is hard to find. It’s only hard to find for agencies and causes that lack high-profile advocates.

Will having a new director at IACC make a difference?

No, not if he or she has to battle the union, a micromanaging city administration, and hear ad nauseam the fabricated excuse city officials feed the public and city division staff as to why the administration can’t fund the agency.

In a November 15th letter to the editor, Susan L. Gerhart shines a light on the administration’s resistance and response to advocates who in 2009 dared to bring attention to and hold accountable those responsible for the agency’s dysfunctional management and performance.

What needs to happen and when?

Those in city administration who display a “despicable lack of concern …” need to be excused from any budget misallocation and deprivation decisions so IACC and its caring staff can be funded to operate as it should, focusing on the humane care and treatment of the animals who find their way to the doors of IACC.

Is that going to happen? Only, as Gerhart says, when city officials recognize that failure to adequately feed, house, and humanely care for homeless animals lessens our humanity.

Ask your Councilor — where is the money going?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

disappearing money

At 7:00 p.m. on Monday, October 13, the City-County Council will hold its final budget meeting. That meeting will determine funding for city agencies, including Animal Care & Control. The council will also vote on allocating $1.7 million in taxpayer money to fund an early childhood education program promoted by Mayor Ballard.

Early childhood education is important, but the state, NOT the city, is responsible for education funding. This proposal takes funding away from agencies and services for which the city IS responsible.

Like fixing potholes. Sidewalks and streetlights. Public safety. And of course, IACC.

What’s happening in our city?

Intake at IACC has gone up (1,083 more in 2013 than in 2012). With increased service calls, an overextended staff, open administrator and veterinarian positions, and a budget so tight it does not even cover food for the animals, the budget needs to be increased. Instead, the city proposes cutting it even more ($185K+).

Why is there never enough money for the essentials, but there’s always money for downtown improvements, sports franchises, and contracts for major campaign contributors?

Here are a few reasons why.

$160 million in taxpayer money is being spent over 10 years to subsidize the Indiana Pacers.

$12.6 million in taxpayer money has been committed to no-bid contracts for the proposed Criminal Justice Center project, for which there is no appropriation in the budget (a violation of Indiana law).

$30 million in taxpayer money has been committed to private developers for the Criminal Justice Center.

$6 million in taxpayer money went to the Indianapolis Sports Field (aka the cricket field).

$6.3 million in taxpayer money went to subsidize a private developer’s parking garage in Broad Ripple.

$5 million in taxpayer money went to IUPUI — a private entity — for improvements and maintenance on the Natatorium.

And now, $1.7 million in taxpayer money is proposed to fund pre-K education for which the city is not responsible.

Demand to know why

Let’s let our city officials know we’re paying attention. E-mail your City-County Councilor before Monday’s budget meeting and demand to know why Indianapolis can spend taxpayer money on sports franchises, no-bid contracts and pre-K education which is NOT the city’s responsibility while trying to cut the budget of IACC, for which it IS responsible.

A sample e-mail:

Dear Councilor [name],

As your constituent, I am deeply concerned about our city’s constant willingness to spend taxpayer money supporting sports franchises, lucrative no-bid contracts for private developers, and projects like pre-K education — which is NOT the city’s responsibility — while proposing to cut the already insufficient budget of Animal Care & Control. The city is obligated under its Municipal Code to provide adequate funding for IACC. The current budget does not even cover food for the animals.

I urge you to demand that the city fulfill its financial obligations before spending taxpayer funds on projects for which it is not responsible.

[Your name]

Not sure who represents you on the Council?

Go to this page to find your City-County Councilor:

You will need to enter your address and click on “locate”. Then select “My Elected Officials”. A large list will come up; your councilor is among the first shown.

Time to ACT on proposed budget cut for IACC

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The Indianapolis Public Safety and Criminal Justice budget committee is proposing a $185K+ budget cut for the city’s animal shelter in 2015. Final review and analysis of all Public Safety budgets will take place October 1st.

The councilors need to hear from the animal welfare constituency, in volume and NOW!

Below is a letter we invite you to “copy and paste” (or edit to your liking) into your email and send to each of the councilors on the committee. Their email addresses are provided below the letter.

Dear City-County Councilor [name]

As the city’s largest open-door animal shelter, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control takes in approximately 17,000 animals in need each year. I hope that you, as a member of the committee charged with setting IACC’s budget, will take these facts into account as you consider that budget:

• IACC’s antiquated building desperately needs an isolation area for sick animals and airflow re- engineering to prevent the spread of airborne disease

• A full-time veterinarian is needed onsite

• The facility is chronically understaffed, and is again without an administrator for the 11th time in 12 years

• There is not even a line item in the current budget for food for the animals

Would you want to run a business or nonprofit agency without money for the barest essentials? Surely a world-class city can adequately fund this facility.

Many of your constituents are involved with animal welfare. We spend our own time and money to save animals’ lives. Local rescue organizations report that more than 90% of the animals they pull from IACC have treatable, preventable illnesses.

Please visit IACC before you make a decision on its budget. See for yourself the conditions, the hard-working staff, and the homeless animals who are there through no fault of their own.

Then, I urge you, please respect the needs identified by previous IACC directors and allot this agency a budget adequate for the crucial services it provides.

Thank you.

[your name]

# # #

Here are the City County Councilors who need to hear your voice for the animals and staff at IACC!

Mary Moriarity Adams, Chair

Aaron Freeman?

Benjamin Hunter

Frank Mascari

William Oliver?

Leroy Robinson

Christine Scales

Joseph Simpson

Zach Adamson

Marilyn Pfisterer

Attitudes, Knowledge and Civility

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

IACC Board Chair Sue Hobbs, who represents the Humane Society of Indianapolis, was apparently unaware of how the Board is composed when she convened the May 8 IACC Board meeting. After the other Board members had introduced themselves, she moved on, ignoring interim director Spencer Moore. Moore asked if he too should introduce himself.

“You’re not a Board member,” Hobbs responded.

“Yes I am,” said Moore.

“No, you’re not,” replied Hobbs.

Moore deferred to a member of the city’s legal team, who informed Hobbs that the administrator is indeed an ex officio board member. City code Sec. 251-332 sec 4 states:
In addition to the five (5) voting members, the administrator of the animal care and control division shall be an ex officio, non-voting member of the board.

This exchange occurs at the one-minute mark on the Board meeting video.

Hobbs had already made her feelings about Moore plain during an April 28 interview with Channel 8’s Jessica Smith, just days after Moore was named interim director: “I feel like he (Moore) represents the absolute worst, darkest period in Indianapolis animal welfare.”

Since improving policies and procedures at IACC is a goal for all of the Indianapolis animal welfare community, it’s important to note that this incident does not reflect the attitudes of all animal welfare groups. It indicates a lack of knowledge and civility on the part of one individual. By extension, it reflects on the organization she represents, which might be well served by helping her to see that an adversarial attitude doesn’t advance the cause.

But if a meaningful conversation is going to take place between the city of Indianapolis and the animal welfare community about IACC policies and procedures, many more organizations need to be involved. There is a vast amount of knowledge and leadership available in Indy’s many rescue and sheltering groups. We hope the city won’t permit one representative or one organization to manipulate the dialogue.

If it goes without saying, it probably needs to be said

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

We all make mistakes. The important thing is to acknowledge them and try to set things right. Which is why we’re handing out both bouquets and brickbats to both sides in a recent dust-up between IACC and other members of the Indianapolis animal welfare community.

Recently, interim IACC director Spencer Moore informed area rescue groups of a new set of rules for pulling animals from the city shelter. Many rescue groups took offense at the changes, and Humane Society of Indianapolis CEO John Aleshire, who also represents the Animal Welfare Alliance, took Moore to task in a long and angry e-mail.

The tone of Aleshire’s e-mail is condescending and implies that Moore discounts the contribution of rescue groups. It hints that Moore, who was IACC administrator in the ‘90s, is less than competent and should be asking others, specifically the Animal Welfare Alliance, how to do his job. That’s insulting.

Moore is owed an apology by Aleshire for this attack.

That being said, however, Aleshire brings up some valid points that also need to be considered.

The new rules for rescue groups were simply sent out in a blunt e-mail with no explanation of why the changes were made or what they seek to accomplish. The tone of this communication seems to suggest that the rescues may be less than responsible and must be told and guided step-by-step by IACC staff. It’s not surprising that many in the rescue community took offense.

The rescue groups are owed an explanation by interim director Moore as to why the changes were made.

Members of some long-time rescues have indicated that some of the policy adjustments are actually in the animals’ best interest. Nevertheless, those reasons need to be communicated. You can’t expect people to know what you’re thinking if you don’t tell them.

Rescue and/or advocacy groups shouldn’t be made to feel they’re being treated as less than partners in the animal welfare effort.

So let’s check the egos, ladies and gentlemen, and start over. Rescue organizations, IACC, and the Animal Welfare Alliance should all be on the same team with the same goal:

…what’s best for the animals.