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Humane Society clinic to open with even bigger goal in mind

August 22, 2012

With a new low-cost pet-vaccination clinic ready to open, the Humane Society of Indianapolis has turned its attention to the costlier second phase of its project.

The Albert G. and Sara I. Reuben Vaccination Clinic awaits final inspection, then doors will open to the public Monday, Aug. 27, at 456 Holmes Ave., in the Haughville neighborhood west of downtown

A $250,000 gift from the Reubens covered the cost of the first set of renovations and equipment purchases at the roughly 10,000-square-foot IndyHumane Animal Welfare Center. The building previously housed a bakery, restaurant and car-repair shop. The clinic will employ up to five staff members and additional volunteers.

The first phase of the pet-care center is a step forward in the group’s effort to better reach out to areas of the city where the stray-animal population is especially high, said IndyHumane CEO John Aleshire.

The humane society identified 10 ZIP codes that account for about 75 percent of the 18,000 animals sent to Indianapolis Animal Care & Control each year. The new clinic is in one of those ZIP codes and close to most of the other ones. It will target those areas in its outreach efforts.

Low-income pet owners are the target market for the clinic, but there are no income restrictions for the service. Vaccinations will run between $15 and $37.

Earnings will help cover the costs of the second phase of the Animal Welfare Center, a low-cost spay-neuter clinic. The vaccination clinic’s finances should be in the black by the seventh or eighth month of operation, Aleshire said.

The humane society needs a little more than $750,000 in profit and donations to further renovate the building, buy equipment and hire four or five additional people for the spay-neuter clinic.

Animal advocates say spay-neuter clinics have proven to be an effective way to reduce stray-animal populations in cities throughout the country. In Indianapolis, euthanasia rates have fallen by more than half since the city's first high-volume, low-cost spay-neuter clinic opened in 1999.

“In many ways, for slightly more than $1 million, we can change animal welfare forever,” Aleshire said.

Aleshire hopes to raise the $750,000 within the year. It should take about two months to open the spay-neuter clinic after IndyHumane has secured the funding, he said.

The humane society is already seeing between 30 and 40 pet owners a day—or roughly 10,000 a year—at its vaccination clinic on Michigan Road. Aleshire expects similar numbers on Holmes Avenue.

On the spay-neuter side, the organization anticipates 5,000 to 6,000 visitors the first year. That likely will grow to more than 10,000 by the third year, Aleshire said.

The humane society has not yet determined pricing for the surgeries, he said. Other low-cost clinics typically charge $20 to $25 for cats and $30 to $55 for dogs.

The animal welfare center will also house four of the humane society’s partners: Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana, Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside, Indy Pit Crew and Casa Del Toro.

Besides medical services, the Animal Welfare Center’s resident organizations will provide educational outreach services.

“We find that people really want to do the right thing if they know what the right thing is,” Aleshire said.

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