The largest animal shelter in Indiana is failing to meet the basic needs of thousands of animals in its care despite recommendations dating back more than a decade, a recent study has found.
A report commissioned this year by the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety has found that few changes have been made at the city's Animal Care and Control since a 2003 task force called for better medical care, increased staffing and clearer euthanasia procedures.
The report's authors say conditions are so dire that the shelter may be violating the city's own animal cruelty ordinances.
Animal Care and Control serves 17,000 animals a year. It has gone through 10 directors in 12 years and just hired a new one. Its lone veterinarian position has been vacant since March. At any given time, the shelter's 12 animal care technicians tend to more than 500 animals.
Decisions to euthanize a wounded animal are routinely made without a basic medical workup.
The city doesn't budget for food for the animals. Instead, it relies on a hodgepodge of donations that veterinarians say is detrimental to the animals' well-being.Whenever something likes this comes up, the answer of the Ballard administration is always the same: blame property tax caps and suggest there needs to be a new "revenue stream," i.e. higher taxes or fees to support the service. Predictably city officials follow that script:
City officials told The Indianapolis Star that many of the problems at the shelter stem from revenue issues caused by property tax caps and the national recession.The article then notes that Valerie Washington, deputy director of the Department of Public Safety, lamented the fact that while police and fire has "numerous revenue streams," animal care and control is funded out of the general fund.
So what? The problem is not where the funding comes from for Indianapolis animal care. The problem is that it is simply is not a priority with this administration. If Fido and Fluffy had the money to hire Barnes & Thornburg to lobby city officials, you can bet they'd finally listen. Or, if the Ballard administration could think of some way to outsource animal care to a politically-connected private contractor, you can bet they'd find million in taxpayer dollars to make it happen.
It all comes down to the continuing misplaced priorities of the Ballard administration.