MADISON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) - Six months after officials discovered hundreds of dead animals on a Madison County farm, commissioners there have toughened animal ordinances.
Madison County Commissioners passed a stronger county animal ordinance Tuesday morning. It takes effect immediately.
Madison County’s ordinance pertaining to animal abuse hadn’t been changed since the 1970s.
State law addresses offenses related to animal abandonment and neglect. A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
Madison County’s ordinance clearly spells out the duty and responsibilities of all animal owners, and imposes monetary penalties for anyone not following the rules.
Officials say it is designed after Hamilton County's animal ordinance.
“This is a big, big deal for us. We’ve finally gotten attention where we need it to be,” said Maleah Stringer, executive director of the Animal Protection League in Anderson. “This will allow this the officers in the Madison County Sheriff's Department to issue citations and post fines, anytime they find animal abuse, cruelty… it just gives them more tools to work with, to combat the cruelty in our county.”
Stringer brought 24-Hour News 8 to Devonshire Veterinary Clinic, where she brought two emaciated puppies Monday night.
She says police found them wandering the street and brought the two to the Animal Protection League.
One survived the night; the other didn’t make it.
“Is it [the ordinance] going to cure this? No. But at least it sends a message we're serious, we're looking, and we have law enforcement looking,” explains Stringer.
Stringer was one of the first people to see inside the Madison County farm in April, where officials found hundreds of dead animals. Her organization helped with all the relief efforts, including the adoption of all the animals rescued from inside.
“This comes on the tail end of the Summitville farm abuse case. That really made people wake up on what's going on in our county. Even as horrible as that was, it was the defining moment that it had to change,” she added.
Commissioners say the ordinance would have helped if it had been on the books in April.
“The tragedy that we had at the farm, that was a tremendous amount of money on the county,” explained Madison County Commissioner Steffanie Owens. “This enables us as a county to recoup some of the monies that it costs to take care of issues that come up.”
Maleah Stringer also showed 24-Hour News 8 around the overcrowded Animal Protection League.
“This has been a very hard summer for us. One day, we got in 90 animals,” she added. “It’s not unusual to get 25 cats in one day.”
All summer, and still this fall, animals sit in cages in offices, in hallways, and anywhere they can fit.
Madison County’s ordinance doesn’t address spay or neutering animals. It’s not required in Madison County.
Stringer says that will be a tough battle, and she says this ordinance is a step in the right direction. She’s hoping for tougher state laws as well.
“It will send out a message to people who abuse animals, they're not going to get away with it anymore.”
For more information on the Animal Protection League, click here.
How Does It Compare?
24-Hour News 8 checked out the ordinances in Marion and Hamilton counties.
Hamilton County requires domestic animals be spayed or neutered, unless the owner gets a breeder’s permit. The county also has a low-cost spay-neuter clinic. You can find its entire ordinance here.
Marion County also clearly defines animal abandonment and neglect in its ordinances pertaining to animals. Marion County requires that any ‘un-sterilized’ dog is tethered for any period of time. You can find Marion County ordinance here.
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