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Animal Care & Treatment Q&A

What is this care ard treatment ordinance I’ve heard so much about? This ordinance went into effect in 2015 and sets general requirements for animal care and treatment (Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County, Indianapolis/Marion County, IN Section 531-401). 

Where can I read the complete code?


Where does this law apply? The ordinance applies to Indianapolis/Marion County, IN

What are the consequences of violating the ordinance? Will the dog be impounded and euthanized? Except for extreme case of severe neglect/abuse, a dog will not be impounded on the first violation. Dog owners are given ample opportunities to correct the situation and comply with the ordinance. If the conditions are not corrected, owners can be fined. Indianapolis Animal Care Services ( IACS) has a 80-90% live release rate in 2015 and a dog will not necessarily be euthanized after being impounded.

How do I report a dog that needs help? The Mayor’s Action Center hotline at 317-327-4622 forwards all reports to IACC for investigation Monday – Friday from 7:30a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You may remain anonymous. After office hours and on weekends, a recorded message will prompt you to dial “1” and you will be connected to the non-emergency police dispatch.  Or you can call the non-emergency line directly at 317-327-3811. You may also make a report online at Request Indy or the RequestIndy app available for free from the Google Play or Apple store.

What do I do if I want to report a dog outside of Marion County? Often a local humane society chapter can provide guidance and resources for pets in need. Animal control is typically the department that has enforcement authority.  If there is not an animal control department with enforcement authority, we recommend calling your local non-emergency police dispatch.

How can I get help for my own dog? You may request help from FIDO using our 24-hour voice mail line at 317-221-1314 and one of our case workers will return your call. FIDO’s pet food pantry is open on the first Saturday of every month from noon to 4 p.m. You just need to provide “proof of need,” such as documentation of government assistance, a pay stub, unemployment record, etc. If you need help and you live outside of Marion County, we can often recommend resources and organizations in neighboring areas.

In what temperature must a dog be brought inside? All dogs must be brought inside when temperatures fall below 20 degrees or rise above 90 degrees.

You mean I can't let my dog out at all when it is below 20 degrees or above 90 degrees?  Not true! The new ordinance is meant to protect dogs that are kept outside 24/7 for most of their lives. These dogs suffer when they continue to live outside in extreme cold when temperatures fall below 20 degrees or extreme heat when temperatures rise above 90 degrees. House dogs can go outside to relieve themselves and get exercise, even when it is below 20 degrees or above 90 degrees, but for short periods (10-20 minutes) and you need to monitor them when they are outside.

I have a long-haired snow dog, and he LOVES to be in the snow. Will I be reported if I let him play outside? No! And in fact, most dogs do enjoy a good romp in the snow. But even snow dogs need protection from the cold, and a dog can’t stay warm if he is chained and unable to move around and exercise. The paws, ears and tail on any dog are the most common tissues to be affected. If a dog is wet or damp, these areas are more vulnerable to frostbite. Dogs with heart disease, diabetes or other conditions that cause reduced blood flow to the extremities are at greater risk for frostbite.

Does a dog need to have shelter at all times? Yes. Even in mild temperatures, a dog must have food, water, and adequate shelter.

What type of shelter is acceptable? A dog house should have solid walls on all sides, a dry floor raised above the ground, and a solid roof sloped away from the entrance. During winter months and when temperatures are below 40, all dog shelters must have protection from the wind (a door or flap over the opening) and insulation from the cold (straw or other material that will not absorb moisture) and have just enough room for the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably. All the winter features will help the dog retain body heat inside the dog house.

Any enclosure or pen that confines a dog shall consist of no less than one hundred (100) square feet. A dog over eighty (80) pounds must be provided with an additional fifty (50) square feet. For each additional dog inside the enclosure, fifty square feet of space for exercise must be added per dog.

Where can I find straw? Most hardware stores and farm supply stores sell bales of straw. FIDO often provides straw at no cost or for a small donation to those in need.

What about cats? Cats need protection from the cold too! The IACS community cat program and the FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic are great resources for community cat caretakers. This page provides instructions for building outdoor cat shelters and feeding stations.

Darcie Kurtz,
Dec 4, 2015, 5:02 PM
Darcie Kurtz,
Apr 27, 2014, 2:18 PM