Rae took the helm of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control in January with the goal of reducing the percentage of animals euthanized from 60 percent to 20 percent. (Right now it is 56 percent.)Rae defended the hiring of more kennel attendants to avoid paying overtime due to under staffing. Critics accused Rae of deliberately leaving strays on the street to drive up the percentage of adopted animals for his agency according to Gillers. Renner claims some of the dogs adopted out had bitten people, a charge Rae says cannot be substantiated.
Then-Public Safety Director Scott Newman -- who touted Rae as the city's first animal-control chief with expertise in that area -- backed that goal. But Rae's plan -- which included adopting out pit bulls, previously condemned to death at the shelter -- raised considerable public opposition.
Newman, who recently resigned for personal reasons, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Rae's decision to take two of the city's 21 animal-control officers off the street and add two caretakers in the kennels troubled Renner, City-County Council members and animal advocates.
Rae's aggressive marketing tactics -- including adopting out dogs for $4 -- also have concerned some.
Prior to Rae's hiring from Philadelphia by Newman, the animal control agency has been run by a string of political hacks. Rae's predecessor, former CCC President Steve Talley, was a prime example. Talley was forced to resign after a group of 50 activists filed a grievance with the agency's advisory board, alleging allegations of mistreatment and abuse of animals in the care of the shelter, as well as violations of city ordinances and procedures for running the animal shelter. Two independent investigations confirmed the allegations.
Newman hired Rae for the position after conducting a nationwide search. By one account, Rae has successfully implemented many improvements during his short six-month tenure at the agency, including new cleaning practices and chemicals, isolation of sick animals, new, larger cages, and 2 shifts of kennel workers. Two of Rae's innovations have already gained notice -- permitting the conditional adoption of dogs that pass evaluation and appear to be pit bulls, and the successful July 4th adoption event. This well-publicized event was held at the IACC shelter and the adoption fee was reduced to $4 per animal. Over 150 animals were adopted in a single day. That's a record for Indianapolis and helped place more animals into homes.
Rae's defenders charge that Renner moved to oust him after Public Safety administrators held a secret meeting with several City-Councilors and activists in late July shortly before Newman's departure as Public Safety Director. Councilors in attendance at the meeting, according to a source, included Benjamin Hunter, Christine Scales, Mike Speedy, Angela Mansfield, Mary Moriarity-Adams and Virginia Cain. The councilors were accompanied at the meeting by representatives of local animal groups, including Humane Society of Indianapolis, IndyFeral, F.I.D.O and Indy Pit Crew. Rae's defenders note the discussion and actions arising out of that meeting were an obvious violation of the grievance procedures set out in the Indianapolis Code relating to IACC. They wonder why these councilors believed they were entitled to a secret meeting to discuss Rae's management of the agency without conducting a public meeting, or at least an opportunity on Rae's part to be heard and answer the charges leveled against him in the secret meeting.
Rae's defenders take note of the fact that one of the participants in that secret meeting, the Humane Society of Indianapolis, now employs Kirsten Vantwoud, the former kennel manager ousted with Talley last year. Given the fact that activists followed public grievance procedures in the removal of Talley and Vanwoud, why didn't the councilors and these activists resort to the grievance procedures this time? HSI, for example, is a sitting member of the IACC's advisory board by virtue of an Indianapolis ordinance. Rae's defenders wonder why HSI and others didn't address their complaints directly to Rae in person or during an advisory board meeting instead of orchestrating the secret meeting with councilors. Were they more interested in muscling Rae out of his job than affording him the due process to which any public administrator should be afforded?
A source says Rae has faced resistance from the beginning of his hiring. That includes threats and vandalism to his car during his first two weeks on the job. It's very sad that someone who picks up roots and relocates to Indianapolis in an effort to help our city right a ship that has been badly steered by political hacks is treated so shabbily by the management of our Public Safety department and meddling councilors. I wish those councilors were as interested in meddling in the affairs of the management of the CIB and the water company where some real savings could be achieved for taxpayers as they have IACC's affairs.