New program aims to spay, neuter animals belonging to homeless population

Thousands of animals euthanized every year

INDIANAPOLIS - The Humane Society of Indianapolis, Animal Welfare Center and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department are teaming up in an effort to crack down on unwanted pets in the city.

As part of a new program, they’re reaching out to the homeless population to get their pets spayed and neutered.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney has exposed the city’s animal overpopulation problem, including the fact that thousands of adoptable animals are euthanized every year.

Jerry Tollefsen lives in a homeless camp under Interstate 70 and owns 11 cats.

The Humane Society has spayed and neutered most of them as part of the new outreach program.

"I don’t want to have any more kittens to be honest with you," Tollefsen said. "I can’t thank them enough. I can’t believe they’re willing to help so much."

The surgery is offered at no cost to the homeless population, and workers pick up the pets and drop them off.

The Animal Welfare Center in Haughville offers spay and neuter surgeries for $20 to $60.

Rebecca Warren, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Humane Society of Indianapolis, said the hope is to reduce the number of animals being euthanized.

"We just fixed six cats from this homeless community, most of them female,” Warren said. "In another month that would have been 15 cats because of the way they would've had kittens."

According to the October kennel statistics report for Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, the shelter took in 1,388 animals and 680 were euthanized.

"If we can do spay/neuter surgeries where we can prevent an abundance of ones who don't have homes for, then we can help stop the problem,” said Kelli Barton, veterinarian for the Animal Welfare Center. “We don't want to clean up the mess by doing euthanasia and get rid of them if we can fix them."

Outreach workers are still trying to figure out just how many animals belong to the homeless.

"Sometimes the animals are transient, sometimes the people are transient from camp to camp,” said Warren. "We're really just trying to get a handle on where the animals are, where they're staying and what we can do to make sure the animals do stay there."

The Animal Welfare Center is funded through a trust as well as community donations.

"As long as there’s a need, we will keep doing it,” Warren said.

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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