Rosie Ellis began taking in strays at her home in 1987. They were mostly kittens 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 incorporated Southside Animal Shelter on January 3, 1994. Rosie already had paid staff caring for the animals at this time. Next she began her 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.
In December 1994 Rosie and her son purchased the property on Edgewood Avenue that houses the Shelter today. Rosie obtained 501(c)3 status for Southside Animal Shelter on November 22, 1995. 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, solar panels and new windows in some of the buildings and in 2014 a new free roaming cat room.
Southside Animal Shelter receives no government or agency funding; it is only through donations, grants and adoption fees that we are able to provide the care needed for our pets. Rosie has grown her operation by developing a network of foster homes and building relationships with other rescue groups, vet clinics and low-cost spay/neuter groups.
Rosie Ellis received the Channel 6 Leadership Award for the work she’s done for companion animals. The Indianapolis Star did an article highlighting her shelter in October, 2001 entitled “Destined to Die”. This article highlighted her efforts to rescue pets out of IACC back before they worked with shelters to transfer pets. Rosie has been recognized by SNSI (Spay-Neuters Services of Indiana) and Indianapolis Monthly for her efforts. In 2011 Indy Tails magazine wrote a story calling her a “Local Hero”. Rosie is well known and respect in the Indianapolis Animal Welfare Community.
Southside Animal Shelter received The Belle Award. The Belle Award is a collaboration of WFYI, Planet Soul and Puddlejump Pictures where they developed a professional video entitled “Love Rescued”. In this video Rosie has vowed to continue her activities as she puts it “for as long as the good Lord allows me to walk”. As a result of The Belle Award and the new video the Southside Animal Shelter was recognized in the October 30, 2009, by The Criterion.