New Indiana law restricts animal-abuse convicts

Local News

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There is a question on how an animal shelters will know who has been convicted of animal abuse and is on probation or parole.

Indianapolis Animal Care Services has enforcement officers with access to information on people who have been convicted or are under investigation for animal abuse. However, for private shelters, they do not currently have access to that information.

Eeyore — yes, that’s how his name is spelled — now looks like a normal healthy dog, a few weeks ago was a completely different story for him.

He was so thin you could see almost every bone in his body. Eeyore had a heart condition that has since been treated and he is recovering. Looking at him answer to commands with his frog-like back legs, it is hard to tell he was neglected.

Eeyore is unfortunately not a rare case. If the person that did this to him is convicted, they will be restricted on owning another dog under a new Indiana law. The law takes effect July 1. 

Kirsten VantWoud, the chief operating officer of IndyHumane, applauds the new law. 

“The link between people who will neglect and abuse animals and how they will eventually neglect and abuse humans is not up for discussion. It is very, very real,” VantWoud said.

IndyHumane has a screening process for prospective pets owners, but they can’t do a criminal background check. 

“We would like to be able to know first of all that the allegations against somebody (are) creditable. We would never want to assume that we couldn’t adopt an animal to you because somebody said you were being unkind, so a database of some sort would be helpful,” VantWoud said. 

The new law does not include a database or an avenue for private shelters, such IndyHumane, to check and or verify if people are on parole or probation for animal abuse. Private agencies will have to go with instinct and a few thoughtful questions. 

“And, so, those are the kind of bits of information that we try and find out from talking with people to see if there are red flags. Certainly, if somebody writes down that they have had dozens of pets and they all get hit by cars, we are probably not going to give you one to make (No.) 13,” VantWoud said. 

Hazel is a 3-year-old, hazel-colored mixed breed dog that was rescued from an Indianapolis shelter after she was shot a couple months ago. Hazel is recovering and doing well with her behavior training. She is ready for a permanent home. The new law is designed so she does not face another bad owner or another bullet.

Indianapolis Animal Care Services told News 8 on Friday afternoon that it is working with the city lawyers on how this law is going to work. The question that has not been answered: how information on convicted animal abusers will be shared statewide. 

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