Marion County Animal Care & Control director resigns

Spencer Moore
There's another change at the top of the group that keeps dangerous animals off the street and pets safe in Marion County.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control is about to get a new leader, yet again.

Retired Metro Police Lt. Spencer Moore, the father of slain IMPD Ofc. David Moore, is taking over on a temporary basis. The challenge will be finding a permanent leader, where so many have either resigned or been fired.

It's an agency that's had a tough time keeping someone in charge. There have been at least six directors in six years at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

The agency takes in thousands of animals each year and enforces the city's animal ordinances, to keep neighbors safe. But city leaders say finding the right person for administrator, and keeping them in that position, is difficult.

"You're constantly getting animals in, you're dealing with sick animals and just making sure you're just treating them the right way," said Deputy Director of Public Safety Valerie Washington. "I think it's a difficult challenge, just with budgetary constraints and personnel constraints to make you feel like you're being as effective as you want to."

The most recent administrator, Dan Shackle, resigned Monday, to practice law at a local law firm. But he also was recently suspended by the agency, for tipping off animal rescues about surprise inspections.

Shackle's deputy chief, Marcus Brown, was terminated about a month ago, after getting suspended himself during a human resources investigation.

Now, the agency has to change leaders, yet again.

Moore will take over in the interim. He actually spent nine years as director of Animal Care and Control in the 1990s. He knows the job is challenging, even when you're passionate about pets.

"To have to work every day with them and you see so many of them destroyed because someone doesn't want them or they come in or mistreated and so forth, so there's a lot of stress in that environment," Moore explained.

Also stressful, he says, is enforcing animal laws at people's homes.

"As an officer, I've had to arrest people - moms, dads, grandmas, sons, daughters, but no emotion rises to that level of taking their pet. 'You can have Grammy, but you can't have a pet'," he said. "It is a very, very emotional and truthfully dangerous time when you have to interact with people in this fashion."

Shackle became administrator of IACC in September 2012. During that time, the live-save rate at IACC improved from 49 percent in 2011 to 64 percent in 2013. Through the first quarter of 2014, the division's live-save rate stood at 79 percent.

Shackle is also credited with an increase in adoptions and in the number of animals sent to rescues during 2013, along with improvements to the division's vehicles.

The IACC takes in about 16,000 animals a year. It's the largest animal shelter in Indiana.

Moore says Animal Care and Control is full of good people doing good things to help animals. Moore plans to build on that and beef up staff by filling vacant positions. 

The search for the next permanent director begins right away. Officials say it will take 3-6 months to fill the position, which pays $75,000 a year.