Animal rescues face challenges with food, shelter and health care

·2 min read

Sep. 25—While most of the communities in Madison County rely on private or government partnerships when it comes to rescuing animals, the challenges are many including housing, feeding and the spay-neuter requirements of Indiana law before they can be re-homed.

The rights of owners who have had animals confiscated conflict with the immediate needs of rescues as they care for confiscated animals. Those accused of abuse and neglect have a right to due process, which includes reserving the right to reclaim the animals.

The problem is the court process can take months, potentially leaving rescues to foot the bill.

Indiana law does provide a mechanism that preserves the rights of the owner while ensuring the care of the animal remains that person's responsibility. Those who choose not to forfeit the rights to the animals as their court cases progress have the option of putting up a bond for each animal.

Typically, the owner would need to agree to pay $300 per month per animal.

But Maleah Stringer, executive director of Anderson's Animal Protection League, said the problem is that even if an owner doesn't pay the bond, there is no guarantee the animals will be released for adoption. That's fine for a couple of animals but a huge strain when dealing with hoarders who have dozens.

"The rescuers are in limbo. It puts rescues in a bad position," Stringer said. "It makes rescues not want to step up. The next time they are going to remember this, and they won't want to step up again."

Heike Ramsey, adoption/foster coordinator for Homer's Helpers, said an additional wrinkle is Indiana law changed in July and now requires animals to be spayed and neutered before they can be re-homed, an additional expense for rescues.

"At the end of the day, we all have to work together," Ramseys said. "It's about the animals."

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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