INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana is cracking down on convicted animal abusers. 

The state is making it much harder for people convicted of animal abuse from having a cat or dog. A new law takes effect July 1.

Animal abuse “is a huge problem in our state, in the fact that the laws have not been designed with the best interest of animals in mind,” said Jen Hancock, executive director of the FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and the legislature this year created a law that would stop people convicted of animal abuse from owning, keeping or training a dog or cat for the duration of their probation or parole.

“I think that’s also important because what we see sometime in our world is that people will own a pet and not take the values and the responsibility that goes along with that,” Hancock said.

Darcie Kurtz, executive director of Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO), said, “This new law, I think, is a great first step. If somebody is convicted of knowingly harming an animal, I think they need to give up their ability to own an animal. It’s just logical. I would hope that maybe over time this could be strengthened more.” 

“What I’d like to see is something similar to what can happen on the civil level in Marion County,” Kurtz said. “If somebody is a chronic offender, they can be made a no-owner/keeper for life.”

There is no registry within the law where a pet shop or humane society could quickly know that a person isn’t allowed to have a pet.

Kurtz said, “I would hope that, yeah, going forward, that is something that can be implemented here in Indiana.”


A Senate Republican spokeswoman:

“SEA 474 prevents animal abusers from owning pets as a condition of their parole or probation. There is no registry or other method included in the bill by which pet shops and humane societies could know quickly that a person is prohibited from having a pet. However, these offenders are under the supervision of parole or probation officers, who supervise many aspects of the offender’s lives to ensure they are complying with the conditions of their release. This includes regular meetings and home visits. If the offender has a pet in violation of his parole, it would be the responsibility of their parole officer to, in the normal course of their supervisory duties, take note of this violation and meet out the appropriate punishment.”

Report animal neglect or abuse

According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health: For dogs, cats and other pets contact local law enforcement. For livestock and poultry, call the state Board of Animal Health at: 317-544-2400 or local law enforcement. For more information on procedures in abuse and neglect matters, see this portion of Indiana state law.