But this news hit way close to home. This weekend, I learned that the Humane Society of Indianapolis (my hometown) notified the public that it will stop accepting stray animals and begin requiring pet owners to go through "surrender counseling" before the society will take their pets. Why? Here is the news from the Indianapolis Star...
The Humane Society of Indianapolis says it will stop accepting stray animals and begin requiring frustrated pet owners to go through "surrender counseling" before it takes their pets.This will be incredibly difficult for the city, it's residents, and the poor pups, kitties and other animals wandering the streets, those neglected by owners, and the unwanted and unloved pups throughout the Indianapolis area. More animals will be euthanized, many more will be abandoned and dumped on the city streets and country roads, no-kill shelters in the area that work so hard to help each and every animal will be overwhelmed and overburdened, and unfortunately dog bites may increase leading to discussions of unnecessary legislative changes, more unwanted breeding will occur, and worst of all my fellow four leggers will suffer greatly because of this change in policy by the Humane Society of Indianapolis.
Both changes are meant to help the Humane Society close a $200,000 annual budget deficit while reducing the number of animals for which the society must find new homes. But it could mean that Marion County's other large shelter, run by the county's Animal Care and Control agency, may have to deal with another 4,000 to 5,000 animals.
Many of those will have to be euthanized -- as it is now, the city's pound takes in about 18,000 animals a year and kills more than 11,000 of them. Last year, the Humane Society took in nearly 9,000 animals, with strays making up a little more than 2,100.
County officials expect that they not only will have to take care of all strays, but thousands of animals that may be rejected by the Humane Society or whose owners want to get rid of them without undergoing counseling.
Humane Society officials have been in talks with the city for weeks on how the transition will work once the changes start March 15. Humane Society Chief Executive Officer Martha Boden said Friday that "we don't have anything crystallized yet." City Public Safety Director Scott Newman said he hopes to announce a contingency plan next week.
It's a sad, sad day for my friends...
This isn't the first controversial issue to face the Humane Society of Indianapolis. Back in 2001, under the leadership of Marsha Spring, the society faced accusations of financial mismanagement, as well as very high euthanisia rates. In 2001, the society was accused of violating Indianapolis animal welfare laws for not providing veterinary care and a healthy environment for the animals.
2002 brought a new executive director, Martha Boden, a Minneapolis woman who had formerly led a pet-fostering program and a group to rescue injured and ailing hamsters from pet stores and shelters - her starting salary was $90,000.
Then again in 2002, a couple who brought a GSD puppy to the shelter they had cared for who was abandoned by their neighbor, learned that three hours after the pup was surrendered the puppy was euthanized. They had gone back to see if they could help find the pup a home, but it was too late. Then in May 2004 the state's Attorney General's office began looking into more financial mismanagement accusations of one of the shelter's endowment fund.
Euthanasia rates of the society have been reported as very high - from 60.4 percent of the animals that passed through the shelters in 2001 to 65.1 percent in 2003. Since 2003 euthanisia rates have seemed to decrease, however the shelter is still $2.8 million in debt. (Sources: The Indianapolis Star)
I wish that our local Humane Society would look at alternatives to this decision in the name of money. Many shelters throughout the country are doing remarkable things on limited budgets, helping thousands upon thousands of animals find loving homes, each and every day.
In frequenting the dog blog-o-sphere on a daily basis, I read a lot about shelter directors that have turned around kill shelters with financial troubles - actually turning them into no-kill shelters with incredible success, and community support. Many of the ideas that helped them through the process were inspired by Nathan Winograd, a no-kill crusader, who will be in Indianapolis area on May 3-4 for a seminar.
We would like to encourage the volunteers and staff of the Humane Society of Indianapolis and all the shelters/rescues and societies throughout the area to attend this seminar and read Nathan's book. If you come away with just one (or, we hope many) ideas to make your shelter or rescue more successful in helping animals it would be well worth your while.