About Us


The mission of Southside Animal Shelter is to rescue healthy and treatable dogs and cats at risk of euthanasia, nurture and restore them to happy healthy lives in loving homes, and reserve euthanasia for those animals, in a veterinarian’s professional opinion, who are in a state of terminal suffering or have been determined aggressive.

Nonprofit Status

The Southside Animal Shelter is a 501(c)3 private, independent, nonprofit corporation governed by a volunteer Board of Directors composed of community members who are dedicated to animal welfare.

We are funded primarily through private donations and service revenue. We are not controlled or funded by any statewide or national organization. Donations made to national animal welfare groups do not benefit our local pets.


Rosie Ellis began taking in strays at her home in 1987. They were mostly kitten found at the feed store. Soon, more of them began developing health problems. The girl who lived next door to her worked for a veterinarian’s office and was very helpful to Rosie.

In the late 80′s/early 90′s the number of animals rescued had grown considerably. Rosie and her husband purchased an old factory building at 1400 Madison Avenue to house her growing sheltering activities. Rosie already had paid staff caring for the animals at this time.

Next came the adoption activities. Rosie was one of the very first groups to bring animals to PetSmart in College Park for adoption. She would take 3-4 puppies and/or kittens and sit in the store every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Treasured volunteers, Steve and Jennifer Booker, assisted her when she was invited to bring animals to the Greenwood PetSmart. Rosie described this opportunity as ‘a Godsend’ for her shelter.

Rosie obtained 501(c)3 status for Southside Animal Shelter in 1995. By then she and her son had purchased the property on Edgewood Avenue that houses the Shelter today. The City County Council denied her petition for a zoning change. Rosie won her appeal in court before a judge and was approved for 175 cats and 25 dogs at the Shelter.

Improvements continue to be made to the buildings and grounds of the Southside Animal Shelter including heating, electrical, new roofs, flooring, dropped ceilings and new windows in some of the buildings.

About the Shelter

Southside Animal Shelter is unlike most any other animal welfare organization. As one of the few “limited admission shelter” organizations in the city of Indianapolis, Southside Animal Shelter remains committed to the philosophy of not using euthanasia to control population.

Once an animal is accepted at Southside Animal Shelter, there is no limit to the amount of time that animal can spend at the shelter. Once the shelter is full, however, no new animals can be accepted, thus preventing our current residents from being euthanized to make room for newcomers.

It is this policy which differentiates Southside Animal Shelter from “open admission” facilities. These shelters accept all animals presented to the shelter regardless of whether they are full or not, including owner surrenders and strays. We focus our efforts on transferring animals from Indianapolis Animal Care and Control that are at risk of euthanasia. In 2006, we transferred 1,255 animals from Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

So we can think of animal welfare like a patchwork quilt, made of different organizations; some “Open Admission,” some “Limited Admission” and others such as specific breed “Rescue Groups”, “Sanctuaries” and even “Animal Control” who all want to get homeless and unwanted animals off the street and into a better place.

Once accepted, we become responsible for the animals we take in for the duration of their stay with us. This includes providing for the animals basic needs such as routine and sometimes special veterinary care, spaying and neutering, food, and shelter. We also work very hard to provide a loving and caring environment for our animals while they are with us.

Operational Expenses

Southside Animal Shelter is a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization which receives no government funding from the City of Indianapolis, Marion County, or the State of Indiana. We also do not receive any United Way funding. Our funding comes from private sources, such as:

  • Donations
  • Memorials
  • Bequests
  • Special Events and Fundraisers
  • Adoption Fees
  • In-kind donations from professionals