Humane Society of Indianapolis: nothing has changed

Dateline: Tue 25 Mar 2008

The Humane Society of Indianapolis continues to be in trouble.

Because the board of directors for the private organization and CEO Martha Boden remain stuck in past practices, animals continue to die at alarming rates while money disappears.

The Star and other media outlets during March have reported the current HSI spin: the agency -- which is in deep financial trouble, with debt of up to $1 million -- will no longer accept strays. Instead, HSI announced, the owners of unwanted animals will be required to undergo counseling at a cost in order to surrender an animal. The city-run Animal Care and Control has offered to step in and take many of these animals, which will only increase the burden on that agency and tax-payers.

This is a bleak solution for a county that in 2005-06 destroyed 31,978 animals -- 57 percent of all those that entered either HSI or the ACC.

Fortunately, animal welfare advocates are organized and speaking out in Marion County. Yesterday a letter to the editor of the Star by Aileen Worden urged animal lovers to donate their money to any one of several volunteer organizations that genuinely have animal welfare at heart. (Indy Feral, FACE, ARPO and Southside Animal Shelter are all responsible groups).

Prior to Worden's letter, another letter to the editor by Ellen Robinson of FACE pointed up the necessity of responsible spay-neuter practices in Marion County -- something HSI, amazingly, has never truly embraced, since it remains under the sway of profit-motivated veterinarians.

Longtime animal advocate and friend Warren Patitz also continues to monitor the situation, with the aid of Move To Act. Check out their website:

http://movetoact.org/

Patitz once volunteered and taught behavioral classes for dogs at HSI. He left the organization in 2001, after 11 years of involvement there.

"The agency has not improved, and the obfuscation has been perpetuated," he said. "What HSI is now after is positioning itself to cherry-pick animals to generate the greatest amount of revenue.

"The culture of the Humane Society has never changed," he added.

The private agency has squandered its assets, the Mary Powell Crume Public Charitable Trust Fund, in order to pay for its history of deficit spending. Money tends to go to putting on PR campaigns, "branding," and salary for executive director Boden, which has been reported at $110,000 a year salary in the past.

What's the answer? As Worden suggested, animal lovers should think hard before supporting HSI. Send your money and your efforts elsewhere, and send a strong message that HSI is failing in its mission.

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