UPDATE: Local officials to consider more animal shelter funding

Indianapolis' animal shelter would see more funding and more staff under proposed changes intended to address recent findings that the shelter is unsanitary, understaffed and underfunded.

The city's Department of Public Safety estimates that $1.5 million is needed to address the findings of a city-commissioned study that concluded the Indianapolis Animal Care and Control shelter failed to meet the basic needs of thousands of animals.

Budget documents show that most of the additional money should go toward hiring 24 new employees, with $370,000 for supplies and training, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The proposal suggests that the shelter, which is Indiana's largest, hire veterinary technicians for the first time, as well as a few animal care technicians to clean cages and feed the animals. It also calls for a $25,000 increase in the lead veterinarian's salary.

That position currently pays $65,000 and has been vacant since March.

The remainder of the money would go toward supplies, food and employee training, according to budget documents.

"I think this is a good start. We need, though, to find a way to get through to the Department of Public Safety as well as the council that we need a long-lasting, sustainable budget," said Sue Hobbs, chair of the Animal Care and Control Advisory Board.

The City-County Council referred the proposal to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, which meets next Wednesday. Members of both parties have said they expect the measure to pass.

Last fall, a task force consisting of city employees, elected officials and animal welfare groups completed its recommendations on how to fix the city's animal control division, which has been under fire for more than a decade for its care standards.

Those findings called for doubling the shelter staff, more money for medical supplies and a dedicated food budget instead of relying on donations as the city does now.

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