The Spencer County Animal Shelter is closing, effective immediately. The decision by the county Animal Control Board was announced on October 4th and was issued more than a month after Alley Cat Allies hit the ground in Spencer County, mobilizing supporters and advocates and fighting for humane changes at the shelter. In August, shelter volunteers and a worker reported that live cats and kittens were put into a freezer to die as a cruel form of “euthanasia.”

At its October meeting, the Animal Control Board voted to shut down the shelter and terminate director Christina Payne, who reportedly instructed employees to kill cats by freezing them to death. It was reported that the approximately 10 animals in the shelter’s care are being transferred to local rescue groups. It is not clear if, or when, the county will reopen the animal shelter.

Alley Cat Allies and its supporters played a vital role in the shelter’s closure and in Payne’s termination. While this is an important first step, there is still critical work to do. Before the county considers reopening their animal shelter, officials must  ensure that their board, staff, and volunteers are adequately trained, and that the shelter implements best practices to care for the animals. The county has lost the public’s trust and must now make serious efforts to regain that trust.

On the state level, Indiana must pass laws that create comprehensive animal shelter regulations and increase transparency. This includes licensing shelters and requiring facilities to maintain detailed intake and disposition records that must be made public.

“The cruel and shocking practices at Spencer County Animal Shelter illuminates a lack of state oversight of animal shelters throughout Indiana. Transparency and accountability are essential, and taxpayers have a right to know what is going on in their local shelters. Failure to protect animals with humane standards of care can no longer be tolerated,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies.

Alley Cat Allies, Spencer County residents, elected leaders, and supporters around the nation advocated for humane change at the shelter in response to the abuse. More than 8,000 people signed Alley Cat Allies’ sign-on letter, which we presented to Spencer County officials in September, calling for immediate reforms.

Alley Cat Allies extends a heartfelt thank you to people around the nation who tirelessly pushed for justice and accountability. We spent weeks mobilizing citizens to speak out, attending county commissioners’ meetings, and collaborating one-on-one with Spencer County residents and advocates.