INDIANAPOLIS - Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, has introduced legislation aimed at addressing the state's unwanted animal population.
House Bill 1400, filed Tuesday, would establish the Indiana companion animal sterilization fund, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.
The fund would allow Medicaid recipients to receive spay and neuter services at no charge.
Supporters say the spay/neuter services would not be charged to the taxpayers.
If passed into law, it would also impose a fee of $50 on the retail sale of any unsterilized cat or dog and increase the fee collected from pet food distributors for inspections.
"We need to address the stray and unwanted cat and dog overpopulation problem in the Indiana," Lawson wrote in an email to Kenney. "If we mirror legislation that has been done in other states that have a proven outcome, then we will be able to resolve our problem."
As Kenney has reported, Indiana ships thousands of unwanted animals to New England, where the spay/neuter laws are much more stringent.
"This legislation will reduce the overpopulation of unwanted pets, reduce euthanasia, and reduce dog bites, which is a public safety concern," said Lawson.
Last year, 5,216 animals were euthanized in the city of Indianapolis shelter, not counting the hundreds of animals euthanized at their owners' request.
The city's live-save rate was 64 percent in 2013, meaning roughly 64 percent of the animals coming into the shelter made it out alive.
In 2012, the save rate was 56 percent, and the year before it was only 49 percent.
In 2011, Kenney exposed the city's animal overpopulation problem, showing it leads to public health problems like dog bites and euthanized animals dumped in the dumpster behind the shelter.
Records show of the animals euthanized, 66 were considered healthy and 3,102 animals had conditions deemed manageable or re-habitable.
Similar bills have been introduced three times, but all have failed.
Animal advocates are encouraged because House Bill 1400 has a republican co-author, Rep. Mike Karickhoff, and lawmakers are becoming more familiar with the issue of unwanted animals.
Lawson said that the committee report deadline is Jan, 28, so if the bill does not receive a hearing before that day it will not get a hearing this year.