We are proud to be celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. We've seen some huge changes in the animal welfare community in Indianapolis and are proud of what our community has accomplished. Let's take a look back...

Then - 1997

The largest innovation in 1997 would have to be the internet being made available to the majority of American's across the nation. The internet changed everything - for everyone. Watch this hilarious instructional video 'The Kids' guide to the Internet' to see for yourself. Here in Indianapolis Planet Hollywood (remember that place?) opened their 51st franchise right downtown.  After being home to the Indianapolis Indian's for 65 years, Bush Stadium closed it doors and remained vacant for 15 years.

In the realm of animal welfare, 1997 was the height of pit bull hysteria across the nation. All dogs that were identified as pit bulls were euthanized upon intake at local shelters across the state. The phrase 'perfectly healthy pit bulls are being put to sleep at the shelter' was true. 

Now - 2017

Source: FACE Clinic

Source: FACE Clinic

We live in a technology culture. We utilize robots in our everyday life (Roomba's anyone?) and carry tiny computers in our pockets. Bush Stadium has re-opened its doors as a Stadium Lofts and is helping to bring people back into the city. 

Many animal welfare groups across the state are working together to save as many pet lives as possible. There is no blanket policy to euthanize a certain type of dog upon intake at any shelter in our state. It is difficult to find exact figures for 1997, but since 2000 we have lowered the euthanasia rates in our city by 90% as illustrated in this chart.

The phrase 'perfectly healthy pit bulls are being put to sleep at the shelter' is no longer true. The dogs that are being put on the rescue only list are pit bulls with either medical or behavioral problems. These 'rescue only' dogs not only cost more, the dogs spend longer in the foster home and sometimes require special needs adopters. All of these changes makes our adoption process take longer and so we're actually saving less dogs per year. 

We are fortunate to not have Breed Specific Legislation in Indianapolis. Just like The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin in the 1950's, TV shows like Pit Bulls and Parolees are helping to slowly change the public's perception of pit bulls. The newest movement amongst pit bull advocates like the Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) remove breed labels. Upon closer inspection we found that many groups (like AFF, BADRAP, and Villalobos Rescue Center) that we even think of as 'pit bull' rescues do not exclusively save pit bulls. 

Strategic Next Steps

We do this work because we care. We cannot fathom closing the rescue when there are still so many pit bulls on the rescue only lists at Indianapolis shelters. Our largest hurdle to rescuing dogs is having a safe and secure place to keep them. We are only as strong as our foster homes!

So in 2015 our President, Shawna Ping, began researching successful rescue facilities. A trip to Dogtown at Best Friends in Utah gave insight into the different types of building layouts (dog octagons, multiple small buildings versus warehouse style buildings) and logistical considerations for engaging volunteers onsite.

Then in 2016 eight Casa del Toro volunteers participated in a one-week internship at AFF. We drove 12 hours across the United States to see 'how the other half lives'. AFF has multiple small buildings on 200 acres and an annual budget of approximately $3M. CDT is a foster based rescue (we currently have 6 foster homes) with an annual budget of $80,000. Each volunteer was paired with a dog for the week. We learned hands-on  obedience training with our dogs and received real world experience on how to run a facility.

In 2017 we received a grant from the Nina Mason Pullium Foundation to fund training opportunities for adopters and a part time employee. It was difficult to find force free trainers in our area so we decided to offer our own training services. Then our board of directors voted to continue funding for Casa del Toro's first employee, our President Shawna Ping. Shawna left her day job earlier this year and has dedicated her efforts towards achieving our strategic expansion.

Phase 1 - Land


We are raising $30,000 to purchase 10-20 acres of agricultural land within one hour of downtown Indianapolis. We do not want our facility located in the city because we cannot afford commercial real estate property nor we do not want dogs left at our doorstep. While we know people will drive to dump their dogs, it is our hope that our facility will be remote enough to discourage dumping. We are looking to purchase agricultural land because of zoning. 

Consider an outright gift of property.

How It Works:

  • You deed your real estate to Casa del Toro.
  • Casa del Toro either uses your property or sells the property and uses the proceeds to support our mission.


  • You are entitled to an income tax deduction for the full fair market value of the property.
  • No capital gains tax will be owed on the property's appreciation, so the full value of your property is available to support Casa del Toro.

Check out the Nature Conservancy's Real Estate Gift Guide for other ways to give and contact us at for more information.

Phase 2 - Facility