When residents who are planning to vote next month think about policies the candidates are proposing and focusing on, supporting animal shelters usually is not their first worry, but with how overcrowded shelters in central Indiana are, the two mayoral candidates are addressing the issue.
Shelters in Indiana and around America are experiencing the issue of overcrowding, high euthanasia rates and understaffing.
In 2022, 1,200 animals in Indianapolis shelters were euthanized due to overcrowding, or 14% of animals that were in Indianapolis Animal Care Services.
Jefferson Shreve, the Republican candidate for Indianapolis mayor, says if he is elected into office, he will push to build a new shelter and would hire more veterinarians to have on staff as well as raise staff salaries by donating his salary as mayor.
Shreve made allegations about the care of animals at the shelter by running commercials saying, “Joe Hogsett has failed us and he’s failed the domestic animals and the system of care that we should deliver year over year.”
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says the rate of dogs finding homes or returning to their owners has increased since his time in office.
Hogsett said he and his team plan to work alongside with local partners to increase staff capacity and expand adoption practices to help improve shelter conditions.
“Through this comprehensive approach, we’re aiming to address the most acute challenges at the shelter in the short-term, while setting up IACS for sustained success in the years to come,” Hogsett said. “Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve made progress, but we are committed to accelerating it even further.”
TheStatehouseFile.com asked nine animal welfare groups about overcrowding at their shelters but none provided an answer. Instead, their voice box said they were too understaffed for people to sit and answer phones.
Some said they were only open Sundays and Wednesdays and others had the phone ring for multiple minutes.
The Hamilton County Humane Society is struggling with overcrowding as well.
“There are about 600 dogs here at Hamilton Humane, and there is only room for 400 of them at maximum capacity,” Lily Pesavento, the community engagement manager, said. “I have a dog in my office with me currently, her name is Ellie and she is available to adopt.”
There are more than 110 dogs available for adoption at Hamilton Humane.
“Most of the workers here have dogs in their office because there is no room elsewhere,” she said.
Pesavento says there has been an increase in the amount of incoming strays in Marion County, as all Marion County animals are being pushed into surrounding counties due to Marion being so overcrowded. She says volunteers are always needed and welcome.