Shreve pledges to donate salary to animal care if elected mayor

  • Comments
  • Print
Listen to this story

Subscriber Benefit

As a subscriber you can listen to articles at work, in the car, or while you work out. Subscribe Now
This audio file is brought to you by
Loading audio file, please wait.
  • 0.25
  • 0.50
  • 0.75
  • 1.00
  • 1.25
  • 1.50
  • 1.75
  • 2.00
Mira is among the animals available for adoption at Indianapolis Animal Care Services.

Jefferson Shreve on Tuesday pledged to donate his mayoral salary to help Indianapolis Animal Care Services, if he’s elected on Nov. 7.

Jefferson Shreve

Shreve, a Republican, rolled out a detailed plan for improving conditions at IACS—including speeding up construction of a new shelter—and accused Mayor Joe Hogsett, his Democratic opponent, of ignoring the animal-care problem during his two terms in office.

Hogsett unveiled his own agenda for animal care on Monday, pledging more collaboration between the shelter and local animal care not-for-profits, staffing increases, new adoption practices and a new facility.

The IACS, a division of the city’s Department of Business and Neighborhood Services, has long sounded the alarm about understaffing and overcrowding on social media. In May, the shelter posted that it was at capacity. In September 2022, IACS began posting a “preventing euthanasia list” of animals to spur more adoptions and relieve crowding at the shelter.

Former volunteers and employees recently alleged in a Fox 59 report that healthy animals are being euthanized at the shelter. Shelter employees have instructed concerned residents to leave strays on the street or to lie and take the animal to a shelter in another county, they told the station.

“Mr. Hogsett has failed us and he’s failed the animals that are in our care in Marion County,” Shreve said at a press conference Tuesday.

The live-release rate for animals housed at IACS in 2023 was 85% through Sept. 30, according to a city press release. The release from the Hogsett administration also said there has been a 26% increase in that average during the period that Hogsett has been mayor, compared with an average of 62% from 2010 to 2015.

Shreve contested these numbers. 

“I don’t buy it. It’s just wrong,” Shreve said. When pressed by reporters to elaborate on how he knows the numbers are incorrect, he said conversations with volunteers and employees have led him to believe that the live release numbers are lower.

Joe Hogsett

Justin Allen, a former volunteer at IACS who fosters a dog from the shelter, led the charge by writing a letter to the mayor and Business and Neighborhood Services Director Abbey Brands. In the letter provided to IBJ, Allen writes that the live-release rate for dogs in June 2023 was 77.23%, which the letter says is the worst live-release rate for dogs in nearly a decade.

Allen told reporters that the live release numbers provided by the city are likely correct, but that they are misleading because the shelter has also taken in fewer animals.

An IACS spokesperson told IBJ in an email that the total animal intake in 2022 was 8,589. The shelter live-released 6,629.

Another 1,902 animals were diverted through a program that provides resources such as medical bill funding and temporary fosters to pet owners who would otherwise need to surrender their pet.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter took in 15,292 animals.

“These numbers are different because the shelter was operating under emergency intake during COVID,” an IACS spokesperson said in an emailed response. “This was not a decision made lightly, but was necessary due to staffing levels.”

The shelter is now on “managed intake,” where appointments are still required to surrender animals. It has opened up several additional weekly appointments to take in more animals in need, the email said.

Shreve makes campaign commitments

Shreve said that if he were elected, he would donate his entire salary—about $95,000—to Friends of Indy Animals, the not-for-profit fundraising arm of the shelter. The mayoral candidate sold his self-storage company at the end of last year for $590 million.

Shreve said the city needs to better fund IACS, take faster action on building a new shelter, hire additional veterinarians and raise salaries for shelter and animal-control staff.

He said IACS should work toward becoming a no-kill shelter, and he called for the creation of an animal welfare advisory coalition. The coalition would be made up of individuals in the animal welfare community, law enforcement and in government.

Calling animal welfare a personal passion, Shreve said he and his wife, Mary, who have an adopted dog named Shelby, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to animal care groups over the past decade, including Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter and Friends of Indianapolis Animals Outdoors.

He pledged to secure a partnership that would allows animals that die at the shelter to be cremated instead of being sent for disposal at landfills.

The current budget might need to be tripled to cover these costs, Shreve said. He did not give specifics on where exactly those funds would come from, but said his administration would authorize the council to move around other pieces of the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services budget to better fund the shelter at the start of January rather than waiting for the next budgeting process.

He referred to the plan for the city to build and own a convention hotel.

“If our city can find… $800 million to build a five star hotel that none of us are likely to stay in, I bet you I can find some money to improve the physical (shelter) facility and we’ll get services,” Shreve said. “I’ll bet you I have the financial wherewithal to figure that out with some other good people.”

A large portion of funding, he said, would need to come from philanthropic sources, such as Lilly Endowment and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

“It’ll take private giving to do what we’re going to do,” Shreve said. “It was always the whole notion has always been predicated on private giving, but someone’s got to lead.”

He criticized the Hogsett administration’s slow-moving progress on the new Sherman Drive shelter. He said a Shreve administration would act more quickly to choose a different site if remediation would be too costly.

Hogsett’s plan

In a press release Monday, the Mayor’s Office said it was planning more collaboration between IACS and local animal care not-for-profits, staffing increases, new adoption practices and a new facility.

“Through this comprehensive approach, we’re aiming to address the most acute challenges at the shelter in the short term, while setting up IACS for sustained success in the years to come,” Hogsett said in the release. “Over the past seven-and-a-half years, we’ve made progress, but we are committed to accelerating it even further.”

On Monday, not-for-profits FACE Low-Cost Clinic, Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside, IndyHumane and Indy Neighborhood Cats began  an evaluation of the central Indiana animal welfare ecosystem in tandem with IACS. This evaluation will aim to address crisis conditions at the Indianapolis shelter, the release said.

These organizations will work with Indianapolis-based Hedges to produce an audit report, an action plan and a benchmark dashboard. That work will be funded with grants from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, the release said.

Last week, the shelter began partnering with Nine Lives Cafe at 1315 Shelby St. to provide the local business with as many as 16 available cats at a time. Four of the eight kittens had been adopted as of Monday, the release said.

The shelter will also launch an “adopt-a-block” program in which volunteers will hold stray animals in the neighborhood where they are found for 48 hours while they try to locate the owner.

Post-pandemic, the department has experienced staffing woes. To deal with those issues, the Hogsett administration said it created two new positions: a policy and planning administrator and a shelter placement manager. The first role was filled in July 2023 and the other remains open. It is also seeking two additional staffers through a partnership with not-for-profit Best Friends Animal Society.

Hogsett also authorized a market study to compare worker pay.

In 2021, Hogsett administration officials said construction would begin on a new shelter in 2022. Ground has not yet been broken on at the site. The new shelter will replace the existing IACS shelter at 2600 S. Harding Street, which Friends of Indy Animals told INside Indiana Business can only hold about 160 animals.

Kurt Christian, chief communications officer for the city’s Department of Business & Neighborhood Services, told Inside INdiana Business in September that the Sherman Park site is undergoing a large remediation effort that is estimated to cost about $10 million. He said the city is evaluating what options are available for the project to proceed.

“The city’s goal is to break ground before the end of the year, but timelines and total cost will continue to evolve as the city finalizes its plan,” Christian said in an email to Inside INdiana Business.

The city has already committed an $18 million bond to the project and received $4 million total in charitable grants from Lilly Endowment and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

The overall cost for the project remains unknown as designs have been put on hold while the site issues are being addressed. However, Christian said a funding gap does exist based on early estimates.

“[That gap] will be filled through efforts by Friends of Indy foundation and additional budget appropriations by the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services,” he said.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

17 thoughts on “Shreve pledges to donate salary to animal care if elected mayor

    1. Hogsett rolled this plan out 3 years ago – and has done literally nothing since.

      It is a solid campaign strategy for Shreve – I will actually do everything the prior mayor falsely promised and more….

  1. Has Jefferson Shreve rolled out any plans to do anything for the city of Indianapolis that were not in response to something Joe Hogsett just announced or something the city of already doing?

    That he actually went after the convention center hotel like that … shows that I don’t think he’s quite ready to be a mayor.

    Don’t like the hotel? Fine. Just explain what you’re going to do to keep the conventions that have the completion of that hotel … as part of their deals to stay in Indianapolis.

    Which, best I can tell, he’s willfully silent on.

    Is his desire for Indianapolis to stop trying to land conventions with such requirements? Fine. Be clear about that so we can discuss the impact on the Downtown area.

    1. Shreve was way ahead of Boss Hog on this one. The only reason Hogsett is doing ANYTHING is because the media was threatening him with some pretty negative stories and forced him to make a statement. Shreve was planning his press conference weeks ago and Hogsett’s team found out and rushed a statement for Monday. Hogsett is fully complicit in the deaths of thousands of animals on his watch as Mayor. 15,000 intakes to 8,000?? What do you think is happening to those animals?

      And Joe, you are crazy if you think the City has the means to develop an $800 million hotel. If the actual hotel companies won’t do it, why would we? I don’t want my tax dollars back stopping that debt in the worst capital market in 15 years.

    2. I stand corrected. I’ll also state that compared to all the challenges Indianapolis has, animal welfare is pretty low on my list… right around the Heliport…

      We are also crazy to tell all the top conventions we have “naw, we’re not going to build that hotel we promised as part of your renewals” and see if they decide to use that breach of the deal to head to another city. Like it or not, they need Indianapolis more than vice versa.

      It’s real easy to just say no. Propose some alternatives that keep conventions like FFA and FDIC in town.


      Eric Schlett, organizer of the FDIC International, said he’s less concerned about how the deal gets done than whether the hotel is actually built. His group sees more rooms and an expanded convention center as critical to its verbal commitment to remain in Indianapolis through at least 2032.

      “I care about folks in the city, and I want to get the project done as it will be helpful to my event,” he said. “But I also have to think about business planning long term. We’ve enjoyed our 25 years here in the city, and we hope to continue that relationship for years to come. And if we can’t, I just need to be able to plan to do something differently at some point in the future.”

    1. Still a month until the election… there are ~15 news cycles left until then.

      The cycles will get more serious the closer we get to Nov7

  2. What a load of garbage. Billionaire pledges 100k if he gets elected? Claims a new hotel to support local economy is a bad plan because locals won’t stay there? Get this moron out of town.

    1. Charles I hope no one ever puts you in charge of any budgetary money. 590 million is a far cry from 1 billion.

  3. This might actually tip my vote to Shreve. No reason we can’t have best animal CARE and control in the city. Free spay and neuter would cost some up front but I think the savings from unwanted pets being put down later would be worth it

  4. This is sick. So the appeal is pet-based? What not donate his salary to needy, schools, or simply refuse a salary.

    Sophomoric, shameful, sad.

    So some people may base their vote on this antic? Brilliant.

    1. I see you have never experienced an election news cycle before…. now have you ever noticed that there are hundreds of simultaneous issues impacting out society.

      This comment is a great example of why we also need to invest more into our public education system

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In