Indianapolis used to be the jewel of the Midwest. We can do it again.
Mayor Joe Hogsett’s lack of leadership is failing Marion County’s animals and the people who work to protect and care for them, Jefferson Shreve said Tuesday during an afternoon news conference at the proposed site of a new shelter for Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS). Shreve was joined by nearly a dozen members of the animal welfare community and their animals, to announce his plans to improve IACS in both the short and long term.
Shreve called the issue of animal welfare a personal passion. He and his wife, Mary, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to animal welfare organizations over the last decade, including Friends of Indianapolis Animals — the charitable organization of IACS — Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter, Friends of Indianapolis Animals Outdoors (FIDO) the ASPCA and other domestic animal causes.
“I’ve been a supporter of animal welfare organizations, including IACS, for decades,” Shreve said. “In early August, I told the press I would make it a mayoral priority to better fund IACS. A few weeks ago, I visited the shelter again to see for myself the current conditions. I was shocked. Despite the valiant efforts of workers and volunteers, the shelter is in dire condition.”
“Mayor Hogsett has ignored the problem for too long. It wasn’t until Monday, 36 days before the election, that he finally acknowledged the issue. But once again, only in a press release full of empty promises. I will be a mayor that takes action on this issue, and others, on day one.”
Shreve has pledged to donate his salary as mayor to IACS to help fund the daily necessities the city is not currently providing, such as adequate heartworm treatment and other medical needs.
According to media reports, Mayor Hogsett promised a new shelter would be complete by 2023. There has been no meaningful progress on the selected site, despite millions of dollars donated by charitable organizations and millions of dollars already spent by the city. Shreve will move progress forward on the selected site or choose a new site that is better suited for IACS.
At the Aug. 14 City-County Budget Presentation, Shreve publicly stated he’d like to see IACS become a no-kill shelter. As mayor, Shreve will take steps to better fund IACS and provide the resources needed for it to reach that goal.
The city currently employs one veterinarian, leaving animals without medical care when the veterinarian is unavailable. A county the size of Marion County should have more than one vet to provide around-the-clock care. Shreve will increase the IACS budget to employ additional veterinarians.
IACS staff are underpaid for the hard work they do, Shreve said, making it difficult to recruit and retain the talented staff needed at IACS. Shreve committed to raising IACS staff salaries by increasing the amount of money budgeted for IACS.
The city currently puts down domestic animals and places them in trash bags in a walk-in freezer until they are picked up by DPW, for disposal in the landfill. Shreve will secure a partnership with an organization to cremate animals. This model is in place in other counties.
Individuals in the animal welfare community, local law enforcement and legislatures would comprise this group. Shreve said he’d meet with the coalition regularly and lean on their first-hand experiences in the field and at the shelter to inform decisions made about IACS and animal welfare as a whole.
“Jefferson Shreve has demonstrated time and again his dedication to the well being of animals in our community,” said Laurie Collins, animal welfare advocate. “His comprehensive animal welfare reforms have the potential to create lasting change, making our city a safer and more compassionate place for all creatures, great and small.”
“In a city with a $1.6B budget, we can do better,” Shreve said, noting that money can be moved around within the budget for Business and Neighborhood Services, under which IACS falls, to better fund the shelter’s operations. “I’m saddened by the state of animal care in Marion County. The fault lies with Mayor Hogsett and the blind eye he’s turned for seven and a half years. It’s time to turn this around, and it will take a change in leadership at the top. Eight years is enough.”