INDIANAPOLIS -- Calls about stray dogs and abused and neglected animals are piling up in the City of Indianapolis, so much so, Indianapolis Animal Care Services has a backlog of more than 750 calls.
IACS is trying to whittle down that backlog by using animal welfare groups like Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside to help respond to those calls.
It’s a problem Call 6 Investigates told you about last month.
With the hot weather and so many people off work on Labor Day, Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO) used the opportunity to spread their message and help the city with its backlog.
One FIDO crew stopped by Kristy Alexander’s house on the east side after IACS received complaints about her pit bull puppy being kept in a cage on the porch with no shade.
“I put her outside and i went to church, but the sun shifted because the shade was back there when i left,” said Kristy Alexander. “I don't want to come home to my house smelling like poop and pee."
FIDO let Kristy know she has to bring the dog into a temperature-controlled environment when it hits 90 degrees, and the cage she’s using is too small, per city code.
“I will bring her into the house when it’s really hot instead of me running back and forth,” said Alexander.
Alexander admits she initially thought FIDO was there to give her a ticket or take her dog.
“It started off with me, really rough, and ended really good,” said Alexander.
Calls about Alexander’s dog were just some of the more than 750 calls in the city’s backlog.
"It was several weeks ago that it came in, and when we got here, the puppy was on the porch," said FIDO’s Darcie Kurtz. “She was great to work with and we’re going to make progress. We’re going to get the pup fixed and in the house, and eventually with a secure enclosure.”
Close to IUPUI, another FIDO group was out responding to another backlogged call about a stray dog in need of help.
"Animal control went out and they were unsuccessful and so they got in touch with FIDO and they said ‘hey, can you help us out’, and yes we're always here to help out," said Angie List, leader of lost dog recover program at FIDO. “We recently met with IACS and offered some assistance in helping them with some of those stray dog calls, because a lot of them are lower priority.”
FIDO workers set up a trap with lamb meatballs as an incentive for the stray dog.
If the dog takes the bait, FIDO will work with IACS to get the dog to the city shelter.
"They give us a list of calls, and we're helping them make those calls as quickly as we can," said Alexander. “A lot of what we do is talking to people in the neighborhood. They are our eyes and they can tell us what’s going on.”
FIDO spent Labor Day crossing off more calls on the city’s backlog and helping dogs and cats live a better life.
Pet owner Kristy Alexander appreciated the help.
"They're a blessing and they can be a blessing to you,” said Alexander. “I think it's really nice they really care for animals, because some of them can be neglected really bad."
FIDO says if you can’t get a response from IACS or the Mayor’s Action Center, you can call them at 317-221-1314.
Kurtz also said it would be helpful if citizens can make sure there’s a problem before calling.
“I think that would be really valuable to make sure the calls that go to animal control are the important ones,” said Kurtz.
Call 6 Investigates requested an updated backlog figure from IACS on Friday, but we are still waiting to hear back.
The backup includes first calls as well as follow-up runs, according to IACS deputy director Katie Trennepohl, and those requests can come via phone and RequestIndy.
“With the summer, we see an influx of calls for care and treatment which are going to be those neglect calls and for dog bites and animal attacks, and those types of incidents happen more often this time of year,” said Trennepohl in August.
Right now, they’re prioritizing calls based on urgency and public safety.
“So, if an animal is biting someone or attacking another animal, we get out there, or if the heat is above 90 degrees we feel that is more critical for the animals,” said Trennepohl in August.
Priority Level 1 calls include dog bites and attacks, Priority Level 2 calls include dogs that are on chains but are not in immediate danger and Priority Level 3 calls would include a stray dog that is ready to be picked up from a citizen.
The city says the backlog is a result of a high volume of calls and complaints about animals in the summer and a shortage of animal control workers.
IACS is asking pet owners to be responsible and if you call about an animal, provide as much detail as possible so officers can prioritize the call.
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