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Indianapolis City-County Council passes proposal banning pet stores from selling animals

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Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 06, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal that would ban pet stores in Indianapolis from selling dogs, cats and rabbits has passed the Indianapolis City-County Council.

Proposal 57 now heads to Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Councillor John Barth says the proposal will ease the burden on Indianapolis Animal Care Services.

“This proposal has been a long time coming," said Council Vice President Zach Adamson in a statement. "It represents years of planning and coordinating with constituents, non-profit animal welfare groups and discussions with pet stores.”

Existing pet stores that sell puppies in the city will have two years to transition to a new business model that can include the option of continuing to sell animals that are sourced from Animal Care Services or rescue organizations.

Councillors Zach Adamson, Dan Boots, Jason Larrison, and Ali Brown co-sponsored the proposal.

WRTV Investigates spoke to IACS in November and discovered:

  • Two days per week, they have staff to care for 39% of the animals at the shelter
  • Four days per week, they have staff to care for 49% of the animals at the shelter
  • One day per week, they have enough staff to care for 88% of the animals at the shelter

The city is working on increasing staffing and is also asking the public to help by volunteering, fostering or adopting dogs and cats.

In Dec. 2022, IACS said its live release rate is now 84 percent, which means only 84 percent of the animals are leaving the shelter alive through adoptions, rescues or returning to owner.

That is the worst live release rate since 2015. Just two years ago, it was 91%.

The city says lack of staff is a big reason why dogs and cats are dying. They recently partnered with the staffing nonprofit Keys2Work, which helps people who are returning home from incarceration, at risk youth and those experiencing homelessness with employment assistance, mentoring and job placement.

READ MORE: City animal shelter taking new approach to staffing as live release rate drops to lowest since 2015

As of now, people working the Keys2Work positions are not interacting with the public.

On Jan. 1, a similar ordinance went into effect in Bloomington banning the retail sale of dogs and cats.

To read the full ordinance, click here.

READ MORE: IACS seeks foster families for new program | Indianapolis Animal Care Services helping more pet owners than ever before with Indy CARES Program