Matthew Pepper, New Director of Memphis Animal Shelter

Matthew Pepper is set to become the director of the Memphis Animal Shelter (MAS) on March 1st. He worked his final days as head of the Caddo parish shelter in Louisiana last week. He had been there for almost two years:

More than anything, parish leaders and nonprofits credit Pepper with improving the department’s public relations campaign[…]

Mr. Pepper was reportedly hired by MAS due, in part, to his clean-up job at the troubled Caddo shelter. MAS probably thinks it could do with a spit-shine too.

Notable Numbers:

  • Mr. Pepper’s base salary at Caddo: about $76,000
  • Mr. Pepper’s starting salary at MAS: $92,000
  • Caddo’s kill rate for 2009 (Mr. Pepper’s only full calendar year there): over 70%

The Caddo shelter admits thousands of pets every year. When you’re killing that many animals, there are bound to be some oopses:

Lost in the system, but found in a freezer. That’s what happened to a little puppy accidentally killed by Caddo Animal Services.

The puppy had an adopter but never made it out of the shelter to his waiting family:

Director Matt Pepper says as unfortunate as it sounds, the puppy somehow got lost in the system. Pepper says it’s one of many regrettable issues he’s addressed since he’s taken over. He says he’s already implemented new practices that will hopefully keep this from happening again.

One of the problems with killing as a means of shelter population management is that when mistakes are made, pets get dead. Mr. Pepper knows this, first hand. I will be following his work at MAS with interest.

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