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Meet IndyHumane's 'top dog' – David Horth!

CEO David Horth says the shelter "will become better than our best" under his leadership.

It took 17 years on the board and two stints as interim CEO, but David Horth is finally where he needs to be: The top dog at IndyHumane.

Horth took over the reins at IndyHumane – a nonprofit, no-kill shelter on Indy’s Northwestside – on Jan. 1. As a longtime board member, whose professional job was heading a real estate brokerage and investment firm, Horth was never interested in the CEO position despite opportunities.

Until his wife, Gwen, got hold of him.

“I’m 57 years old, and my wife told me, ‘Wouldn’t you rather end your career doing something you love rather than doing something you like?’ So I accepted the position and am very flattered that they asked,” says Horth.

Not that Horth hasn’t been busy in other arenas. He has held volunteer leadership positions in several civic organizations, including serving as president of The Penrod Society, board chair and advisory board member for Indianapolis Animal Care Services, and board member for the Indiana Repertory Theatre. As founder and principal of Quest Commercial Real Estate LLC, he is transitioning his day-to-day responsibilities there.

“I didn’t see how I could make the IndyHumane position work with my business, but I’m now working in an advisory position at my company, and my focus is on the animals we serve at the shelter,” says Horth.

Horth was chairman of the board in 2008 when the shelter was searching for new leadership, and he brought in John Aleshire for the job. Aleshire was CEO of The Little Red Door Cancer Agency for six years before coming to the shelter. He was CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis from 2008 to 2017 and helped pull the shelter out of debt.

“David’s passion and vision for IndyHumane were the primary reasons I accepted the CEO position, and I am proud to have worked with David when he served on the board of directors during my nine years there,” says Aleshire. “His leadership as a longstanding volunteer and board member has helped make IndyHumane the vibrant, growing organization it is today.”

Horth is an Indiana man through and through. He grew up in Broad Ripple and still lives there, attended Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and Purdue University. He brings 30 years of business acumen to the table at IH.

“I have succeeded and I have failed, and I have learned much from all of it,” he says. “Now I’m learning the business aspect of running a nonprofit.”

Horth says he’s in a period of re-examining everything at the shelter, with a focus on rebuilding the development department, which oversees fundraising. An agency like IH can’t be run on adoption fees alone, he acknowledges. “We want to become better than our best,” he says. “We want to reconnect with other animal welfare agencies and work with them.”

Its biggest fundraiser is the annual Mutt Strut, held in April at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For info and to sign up, click here:

Horth says he would like to start a camp for kids who have been bullied and introduce them to animal welfare. “It would be a wonderful animal enrichment program for us, and animals respond well to children. Animals’ impact on humanity can’t be overstated,” he says.

While adoptions are the main focus of IndyHumane, there’s more that goes into getting an animal ready for its forever home. Horth is impressed with the medical and behavioral teams at the shelter.

“A large number of our animals are unadoptable because of behavioral issues, and if we can make it adoptable, we have people who can do that. And we have veterinarians who do amazing things with animals who need medical help."

Because of his longtime association with the board of directors, Horth cites “an excellent relationship with board members who care deeply about serving the animals of our community.” He also says he’s trying to get used to being a first-time boss. The blue coffee mug on his desk says “World’s okayest boss,” and he’s happy with that.

So does the new IH CEO come complete with a pet? Of course. He and Gwen have an eight-year-old Portuguese Water Dog named Splash. “She’s a very gentle girl who likes to swim and rescue things,” he says with a chuckle.

For more info on IndyHumane, visit

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