$2 million in private funds aimed at curbing city's animal overpopulation problem

Plan to be implemented over three years

INDIANAPOLIS - Millions of dollars are on the way to help reduce Indianapolis’ unwanted pet population.

The more than $2 million dollars are not tax dollars; instead, they’re coming from a first of its kind private donation from the Lilly Endowment, the Tony Stewart Foundation and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

“This is a very substantial gift for us,” said Kent Agness, trustee for the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. “Mrs. Pulliam was an animal person. She loved animals.”

The Humane Society of Indianapolis and members of the Animal Welfare Alliance plan to use the money to increase spay and neuter services, boost community outreach and education and start a campaign called “Love me. Fix me.”

The campaign will be aimed at spay/neuter, adoptions and responsible pet ownership.

Roughly 7,000 animals died in the city’s animal shelter in 2012, many because the city simply didn’t have space for the animal.

Animal advocates hope the $2 million will help reduce the 18,000 animals surrendered at the city’s animal shelter every year.     

They eventually want to make Indianapolis a “kill free” city, meaning no animal is euthanized for space.

“Today, the dream begins to be fulfilled, and new work begins today that’s going to change the face of animal welfare forever in our city,” said John Aleshire, CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis.

The Call 6 Investigators exposed the city’s animal crisis in 2011, and at the time asked Mayor Greg Ballard whether it was acceptable 33,000 animals had been killed on his watch, many of them perfectly adoptable.

“But the trend is in the right direction,” responded Ballard in 2011.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney caught up with Ballard after the news conference Tuesday.

“I hope the trend steps up,” said Ballard. “This is a fair chunk of change. This is a lot of money, and it’s always about specific areas, ZIP codes that you target.”
            
Animal advocates told RTV6 they will be using the donation to continue their focus on the top 10 worst ZIP codes for strays.

“I’m hoping it’s very aggressive and targeted and reduces the intake rate at a measurable level at the shelter,” said Ballard. “We’ll all be very happy.”

The $2 million will be spread out over three years.

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