Indianapolis-based not-for-profit Friends of Indy Animals is going public with its $7 million capital campaign to support a new Indianapolis Animal Care Services welfare center and shelter. Meanwhile, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Thursday announced a new location for the facility.
The “Journey Home” campaign has already raised $6.7 million in a private phase, and officials at the not-for-profit are now asking the public’s help in reaching the campaign’s goal.
Executive Director Becky Honeywell said there is a great need for a new shelter to replace the existing facility at 2600 S. Harding St., which will include, among other upgrades, an on-site medical facility.
“The current animal shelter was built in about 1990,” she said. “It was built to hold about between 140 and 160 animals. It is built on a landfill and it’s built … right by the city incinerator. So, it’s not publicly accessible. The building is falling apart. At any moment you’ll find well over 200 animals at the shelter. So unfortunately, we’re beyond capacity.”
The city of Indianapolis had been looking to build the new animal care center at 710 Sherman Drive as part of the city’s redevelopment of Sherman Park.
Hogsett, who has been criticized by Republican Jefferson Shreve for slow progress on the facility, announced Thursday morning that the new proposed site is the former Clearstream property located at 5001 E. Raymond St.
The former Clearstream property is owned by the Indianapolis Housing Agency and has sat dormant for nearly two decades. The Hogsett administration said it is collaborating with both the housing agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the final terms of property transfer.
“With a new location, we are able to accelerate progress on a new facility while continuing our remediation and development commitments on the Near Eastside,” Hogsett said in written remarks. “This new site will bring a community resource to a vacant lot while serving Indy zip codes with some of the highest animal care needs in the City.”
The new facility, slated to have a total cost of $37 million, will feature natural light, an improved HVAC system, and standard-size dog kennels that the current facility does not have. It will also feature a public dog park.
Additionally, the facility will have a conference room for use by any animal rescue group in the city.
“We see it as a place not only much more habitable for our animals who are temporarily housed there but a place where groups can collaborate, animal welfare groups can collaborate and work together to make sure we’re being as effective as possible,” Honeywell said.
As part of the campaign launch, Friends of Indy Animals is announcing a $1 million investment from the Indianapolis Colts. With that, Drake Irsay, the dog of Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay, will serve as “Honorary Dog Chair” for the campaign.
“On behalf of the Indianapolis Colts, my family is proud to support the creation of a new animal welfare center in the city we have called home for 40 seasons,” Irsay said in a news release. “I know firsthand how pet ownership can change your life because my dog Drake changed mine. With this investment from the Colts, I hope more people in Indianapolis will be able to share in the joy of unconditional love with a pet.”
The on-site dog park will also honor Drake Irsay and the Colts. Additionally, the center’s livestock barn and pasture will be named for the Colts as well.
If you’re wondering why Indianapolis Animal Care Services needs a livestock barn, Honeywell says you’re not alone.
“Many people may not realize that Indianapolis Animal Care Services, our city shelter has to take in every single kind of animal that comes to our doors, whether it’s a dog, or a cat, or a pig, or a horse or a goat,” she said. “And so we have to have facilities to take care of those animals. So we actually do have a barn and a pasture that will be on site. And the Colts thought that it made great sense to have to name that barn after the Indianapolis Colts.”
Friends of Indy Animals received a $1 million gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. last month and has also landed a $3 million grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. More than 80 individuals, foundations and corporations have donated so far.
Having already reached 95% of the campaign’s goal, Honeywell said, speaks to the support from the community.
“I think it validates our effort. It says that the large foundations in town really believe in what we’re doing and want to help us improve animal welfare and make Indianapolis a city that treats all animals with dignity and respect.”
Honeywell said once the site for the facility has been finalized, she hopes to have a ceremonial groundbreaking by the end of the year, with construction beginning in the spring.
The project could take up to two years to complete.
You can learn more about the campaign, including how to donate by clicking here.