Reservations, counseling required; no strays accepted

The Humane Society of Indianapolis recently announced big changes in the types and number of animals it will accept.

Beginning March 15, concerned citizens will no longer be allowed to drop off stray animals at the shelter and pet owners who wish to surrender their pets must make an appointment to do so, as well as undergo “surrender counseling.”

In a press release issued this past weekend that detailed the changes, the HSI said the new “Reservation Required” system “is designed to help pet owners make an informed decision before they give up their pets.”

No animals will be accepted at HSI without a prior appointment. Those individuals who want to turn their pets over for adoption will be required to call HSI first and discuss their situation with a phone counselor. If, after reviewing the situation and options available to the pet owner, the phone counselor agrees that bringing the pet to HSI is the best alternative, an appointment to drop off the pet will be scheduled.

The operational changes at the Humane Society are being instituted for primarily financial reasons. With a reported $200,000 annual budget shortfall, HSI has an estimated $2.8 million of debt and has had to secure a line of credit in order to meet budget shortfalls.

“Prior to this change, we accepted an unlimited number of animals, both those brought in by their owners and stray animals brought in by concerned members of the community,” Humane Society of Indianapolis CEO Martha Boden said. “That model simply isn’t an efficient use of our resources, nor is it in the animals’ best interests.”

David Horth, HSI board chair, said, “An efficient use of resources has become even more important as the current economic forecast remains uncertain. We will only take in the number of animals we are best prepared to help, providing those animals spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, food, play, behavioral training and more. Euthanasia of animals simply because we don’t have the space will no longer occur as we align our resources to meet the needs of animals we are most able to assist. Focusing on the most efficient operating model ensures that we provide the best possible outcome for the animals in our care now and into the future.”

In the old intake procedure, pets with minor health or behavior issues best addressed by the current owner would be passed into an unfamiliar environment, possibly making those problems worse. Finding homes for those animals then becomes very difficult, often resulting in euthanasia rather than adoption. Similarly, the HSI said stray animals are best handled by municipal animal control facilities whose officers are on community streets looking out for animals that may have gotten away from their owners.

The new policy at HSI means that Indianapolis Care and Control will now handle all stray animals in Indianapolis. While the details of a new joint plan have not yet been released, discussions between HSI and the city have reportedly been underway for several weeks with Department of Public Safety Director Scott Newman and his staff to ensure both HSI and Indianapolis Animal Care and Control are ready for the transition.

“Our goal at that point will be to assess the animal’s health, temperament and its suitability for adoption,” Boden said. “It will also allow us to gather more information about the animal, which will facilitate the future adoption process.” If HSI determines during the appointment that it cannot accept an animal, the owner will be offered advice and resources to help them explore all possible options. 

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