Animal Control chief on probation

Doug Rae

Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The head of the city's animal shelter is on probation, but some say it's not enough. They say it's time for Doug Rae to find another job.

Animal care tech Billie Bowling calls conditions at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control less than desirable. "At night we don't touch the kennels. They make us leave and they sit in their doo-doo all night."

Another employee said, "Two dogs in an itty bitty crate - it's not right and they have mange."

Bowling is one of several employees critical of the way the shelter is being run.

 "It's a lot worse now than it's ever been," said Tina Childers, senior animal control technician.

The employees blame Doug Rae, the man hired to turn things around. Rae came on board in January after a probe found evidence of mistreatment and botched euthanasia procedures. Rae vowed to improve the adoption rate.

On July 4th the shelter adopted 150 pets for $4 a piece. But several were returned because they were sick or aggressive.

Bowling feels that the shelter is keeping too many animals that shouldn't be kept. Bowling says in some cases, healthy animals have been labeled sick and unadoptable.

"Several times dogs were pulled back, saying they had green nasal discharge when there were no signs of it they were healthy and sweet and we were told to put them down," Childers said.

Steve Quick is the AFSCME Local 725 president, the union which represents about 48 employees at the shelter. He says he's taken a dozen grievances.

"It's a hostile work environment, it really is," Quick said. "It seems like employees are at the bottom of the totem pole."

While the typically outspoken Rae didn't return calls, Greg Brush came to his defense.

"The place didn't get like that overnight. It's been like that for years," Brush said.

Brush, an animal welfare activist, said Rae was making progress despite some incredible challenges.

"He's trying to bring accountability to the shelter and it's not easy to have change," Brush said.

Rae is on probation until September 30th. The advisory board meets Wednesday night at 6:00 pm.

Quick said he and several employees feel differently.

"We need someone who not only acts like they care for animals but takes care of people too, and I'd like to see him find employment somewhere else," Quick said.

Acting Public Safety Director Mark Renner wouldn't say why Rae was put on probation, citing a personnel matter, but he did say it would run through September 30th.

Some employees we spoke to said they supported Rae, but weren't sure if they had permission to speak to the media. They did not respond with comments in time for our deadline.