Changes coming to Indianapolis animal shelter

Published: .
Updated: .

There is a new plan for the future of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control after years of instability at the shelter.

Wearing her Hello Kitty shirt, three-year-old Dakota and her mom stopped by to see the animals at the shelter Friday.

But behind the scenes, things haven't always been pretty. Former Chief Dan Shackle recently served an unpaid suspension for tipping off animal rescue operations about surprise inspections. He resigned last month.

The deputy director is also out, the result of a confidential human resources investigation.

This makes the sixth change in the shelter's leadership in six years.

"There is an inordinate amount of stress that comes with the job," said interim director Spencer Moore.

Moore would know. He held the director's job for nine years in the 1990s.

"I think I've pretty much been called everything that there is and told of my ineptness and my incompetence," Moore said.

Directors used to be police officers, which Moore says are typically more prone to handle the stress. He's back as an interim director and offers insight about why so many leaders here come and go.

"You get pulled in every different way there is. You have public pulling, you have politicians pulling you, you have the animal warfare groups pulling you, and each of them have a special case," Moore said.

Now, the special case is charting a new future. A soon-to-be-created panel will set criteria while searching for a director, a job that pays about $75,000. Another panel will review operations while looking at similar kennels around the country.

There are as many as 700 animals in the animal control building at one time, with almost 80 percent of them being saved. Workers at the shelter will tell you keeping that number high is the biggest problem.

"These dogs are all up for adoption. They are waiting for somebody to take them and find a forever home," said Amanda, a shelter worker.

City leaders hope the task force members will be in place by June at the latest so they can give their recommendations to the shelter's new leader by the time they take office.