Memphis Animal Shelter: Dog Dies, Matthew Pepper Dances

Earlier this month, a pair of family pets escaped their yard and were picked up and brought to the  Memphis Animal Shelter.  The owner showed up to redeem the dogs who were both intact males.  The shelter director, Matthew Pepper, advised the owner that, in order to come into compliance with the new MSN law in Memphis, both dogs would have to be neutered before they could leave the shelter.  The owner said he’d rather take the dogs to his regular vet for the surgeries but Matthew Pepper refused.

According to new Memphis laws, all animals have to be spayed or neutered, but no where in the law does it say the shelter has to perform the sterilization. Shelter bosses created that policy on their own.

So shelter bosses in Memphis are empowered to rewrite laws as they see fit?  Really?

When the owner came back to pick up the dogs post surgery, he was told only one had survived.  The other dog, named Shocker, suffered a post-operative allergic reaction to the anesthesia which went unnoticed because no one was watching him.

While we don’t know if this tragedy was preventable – it’s possible Shocker could have died from the anesthesia reaction even if it happened under the supervision of a veterinarian who took immediate measures to save the dog’s life – we do know three things:

  1. Matthew Pepper was not following the law when he refused to give the dogs back to the owner and ordered the dogs to be neutered at the shelter against the owner’s wishes.
  2. Someone at the shelter with veterinary training should have been monitoring Shocker in recovery to observe for this exact type of incident.  The failure of the shelter to do this is inexcusable.
  3. This event has the potential to be both a legal and a PR nightmare for Matthew Pepper.

Considering the above, go ahead and take a guess at what Matthew Pepper did in the aftermath of Shocker’s death:

  • A. Grant the owner’s request for a refund of the surgery fee.
  • B. Accept responsibility for the dog’s death and assure the public that new shelter protocols are being put into place immediately which will ensure all pets recovering from anesthesia receive appropriate veterinary monitoring.
  • C. Dress up in a dog costume and lock himself in a cage as a publicity stunt to get the shelter some positive press.

If you guessed A – I’m sorry, thanks for playing.  When the owner asked for his money back on the surgery that killed his dog, the shelter whipped out the red ink DENIED stamp.

If you guessed B – Apparently you are unfamiliar with how they do things down at the Memphis Animal Shelter.  Dead dogs are a dime a dozen around there.

For those who guessed C – ding-ding-ding!  And guess what?  The local media ate it upBigTime.

At odd moments on Saturday, workers at the Memphis Animal Shelter would turn their heads to the roof and howl.

And when they gave a rousing rendition of “Who Let the Dogs Out” Matthew Pepper, animal services administrator (dressed for the day in a dog costume), would leave his cage to dance.

Mission Accomplished.

And to Shocker’s owner, who I expect is neither dressed in a costume nor dancing at this moment:  I’m sorry for your loss and I hope you get justice for your dog.

Leave a comment

64 Comments

  1. Parallel

     /  February 20, 2011

    Wow.

    Just…wow.

    Reply
  2. originalwacky

     /  February 20, 2011

    I just… what is this, I don’t even.

    Sorry, my brain has broken.

    Reply
  3. arc8iablue

     /  February 20, 2011

    ditto the above comment…
    geez.

    Reply
  4. Rebecca Breedlove

     /  February 20, 2011

    Crazy ridiculous. What a shame. What a fun way to celebrate the death of an innocent dog.

    Reply
  5. OMFG. Is this for real? Am I still on earth? Either the authorities are doing absolutely nothing for dogs being visibly abused, as in the case of Alice, the dog raised in a box, or they go so overboard that all of our rights as humans are trampled. First of all I am a responsible dog owner and my dog is not neutered, that is my choice and I should have the right to make it. Secondly, now “shelters” have the right to hold your dogs hostage? Fabulous. When does the colonization of Mars begin, cuz I’m ready to go!

    Reply
    • Anne

       /  February 21, 2011

      i would assume that the shelter provides impund services for the city, in which case, they may be able to ‘hold the animal hostage’ depending on the requirements of the city (such as proof of licensing, paying a reclaim fee, or in this case lack of sterilization)
      Obviously the mandatory spay/netuer in memphis would take away your rights as a responsible pet owner (which is just one of the many problems with any sort of msn)

      Reply
  6. I hope the owner goes after this SOB big time! There is no excuse . . . there are no words . . .

    Reply
  7. Maddy

     /  February 20, 2011

    I am too shock to think now… …

    Reply
  8. Yvette Butt

     /  February 20, 2011

    can you believe we are still dealing with this shit.

    Reply
  9. P Curry

     /  February 20, 2011

    Mr. Pepper should and hopefully will be fired from his position. His actions are despicable and inhuman. He has no business working with animals.

    Reply
  10. jay

     /  February 20, 2011

    Mandatory neutering is my big problem here. I hate that the dog was MURDERED…that bastard should do some serious jail time. But to FORCE owners to spay/neuter their pets should not be legal. It’s not like these dogs were strays. They simply got loose from a responsible loving pet owner. These things happens. Better PRAY it doesn’t happen to a pet of mine.

    Reply
  11. Visaya

     /  February 20, 2011

    I am in total shock! I can’t believe what I just read!

    Reply
  12. Charlene

     /  February 20, 2011

    First, I would have probably gone to string Matthew Pepper up by his testicles. My husband is an attorney and I would advise the owner to get an attorney and take legal action against this maniac and the shelter. Matthew is a sick man and shouldn’t be taking care of animals.

    Reply
  13. Anoymous

     /  February 20, 2011

    Matt has been to the No Kill Conference. He can’t say he doesn’t know how to be No-Kill. He learned all the tools, I guess he is just refusing to put them into action. Also, He is on the Board of Directors at the National Animal Control Association: http://www.nacanet.org/current_board.html

    So much for following their Code of Ethics: http://www.nacanet.org/board_ethics.html

    Reply
  14. animalnewsinfo

     /  February 20, 2011

    Animal control is a public service, created to help the public. Government in the United States was developed by the people for the people. It is way past time for the people to remind the government leaders of this — local and national.

    I hope this man has the money required to sue the city for the loss of his dog and they laws that this public shelter broke.

    Reply
  15. Kim

     /  February 20, 2011

    As the owner of three intact dogs, this terrifies me.

    We have regulations that do NOT include MSN – however it is quite frequent that local Animal Control organizations will pop up with a “law” like this.

    Sadly, in Ontario the provincial law clearly states that local by-laws trump provincial regs every time. Which means that all it takes is an adjustment to the local by-laws – in many cities all this needs is an up or down vote by council members.

    There has been talk for some time about enacting this type of law in my city, where any intact animal picked up by AC would need to be altered before being released.

    I hope that Shocker’s owner goes after Matthew Pepper in a BIG way. Perhaps his story (and the resulting legal issues) will serve as a deterrent to other organizations.

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  February 20, 2011

      I have noticed that states enact laws all the time, but that local laws (in most cases) can and does trump the state law. I did notice in one state that they put something along the lines that the law they were putting in place was THE law and that basically it trumped any laws enacted at the local level. I’ll have to find out where it was I saw it…but I remember talking to a gal who is working with Ohio to remove the BSL in OH in regards to removing pit bull type dogs from the vicious list. Yet, even if the state enacts this removal it still leaves it up to localities to put their own laws in place still – which means that even if OH removes pits from teh vicious list that each locality can still ban people from owning pit type dogs. I think it is very unfair that localities are allowed to put laws in place that go against state laws. You would think that the state law would trump any local laws – because it is my understanding that Federal law trumps state law, so why can’t it be that way with state vs local law??? But it is something to think about any time a new law is put in place – that we fight to see that the state law can not be trumped over local law.

      Take, for example that Federal law against marijuana (spelling?) – it is against the law to pocess it in the US, yet California is allowing the use of ‘medical marijuana’ – BUT they are still suseptible to the Federal law which could put a lot of people in jail, even with the permission to use within the state. So it only makes sense that if federal law trumps state law, that state law should trump local law. Crazy stuff I tell ‘ya…..

      Reply
    • Lisa

       /  February 25, 2011

      And your dogs are not spayed/neutered why? Pet overpopulation is a problem.

      I live in Memphis. Matthew Pepper has taken a shelter that was raided by the authorites for starving dogs to death, not giving them enough Sleep Away to kill them and instead, injecting them with half the amount and letting them die a slow and painful death and having around a 5% adoption rate.

      Mr. Pepper may not be perfect and as an animal lover, I’m ashamed to admit that this happened, but the publicity stunt he did benefitted the animals and that’s who’s lives are killed every day by the thousands.

      As for the MSN laws, they don’t work, but the owner should have had the dogs neutered before they got out. God only knows how many mutt puppies are going to be born now because of two intact male dogs got out to breed with other dogs in the neighborhood.

      I’m sorry that one is dead, but thanks to the owner, more unwanted animals will be born and more will die. Take a bow.

      Reply
      • Kim

         /  February 26, 2011

        “And your dogs are not spayed/neutered why?”

        Because there is currently no medical reason to do so.

        “Pet overpopulation is a problem.”

        Pet overpopulation is a myth. See ANY of YesBiscuit’s posts on this topic if you require more information. You have been fed propaganda and you should educate yourself before commenting.

        “Mr. Pepper may not be perfect”

        Ummm… you think? Again, I suggest you educate yourself on just who Matthew Pepper is and what has happened to animals in his care before making a statement in his defense.

        “As for the MSN laws, they don’t work, but the owner should have had the dogs neutered before they got out. God only knows how many mutt puppies are going to be born now because of two intact male dogs got out to breed with other dogs in the neighborhood.”

        Mutt puppies? Oh, the HORROR!

        Two male dogs running around intact will only produce more puppies if they come into contact with a fertile female. Females are only fertile for about 8-24 days EACH YEAR. During a heat females should be kept secure and only allowed outdoors on lead. Our city, for example, has a fine for allowing a female dog in heat to roam. This is the ONLY way you are going to end up with “oops” puppies.

        “I’m sorry that one is dead, but thanks to the owner, more unwanted animals will be born and more will die. Take a bow.”

        Where was it stated that the owner was breeding these dogs? Even if he was, who is to say that he wasn’t breeding them responsibly?

        If every dog in the world was spayed or neutered, they would become extinct pretty quickly. By your logic, anyone who keeps a dog intact is immediately irresponsible – leaving me to believe that you have the same goal as PeTA – eradication of pet animals.

        If no dogs were bred for just a single year, there would be a SHORTFALL of approximately 13-14 MILLION dogs.

        In the future if you are going to post your opinion in public, I suggest that you get your facts straight first.

        Otherwise you just look a little silly. Take a bow.

  16. Morgana

     /  February 20, 2011

    I am stunned and sickened. Pepper should have to undergo neutering at his own facility there, with the same insouciance that was given to Shocker. To Shocker’s Dad, all I can do is to offer my condolences. Given how people act in this world, Shocker has gone to a MUCH better place. I am so, so sorry.

    Reply
  17. animalnewsinfo

     /  February 20, 2011

    Here is another case where it looks like the shelter makes its own laws: Tangilena.com – Animal control policies come under fire after cat s disappearance – http://www.amitetoday.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Animal+control+policies+come+under+fire+after+cat-s+disappearance%20&id=11503459&instance=home_news_lead

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  February 21, 2011

      That is very interesting…I was under the impression that if a “shelter” is funded by the public it serves that records were available upon request. That doesn’t appear to be in place at this shelter though. I am flabbergasted!

      Reply
  18. It looks like the publicity thing was planned before the inexcusable death of Shocker. And it was an event to promote adoptions, so you have to give credit where credit is due. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/feb/11/animal-director-has-pet-project/

    Reply
    • That link is one of the several I included in my post. Memphis Animal Shelter has a long and sordid history of starving dogs to death, killing dogs with adopters begging to save them, and allowing pets in the community to suffer because their ACOs are “behind” on calls. Now – they are making their own “laws” within the terrible MSN which they helped get passed. I don’t care if the event was planned a year ago – it served a PR purpose in the face of potential community outrage here, which to me, is obvious. If you are inclined to give this kill shelter and its director a pass because perhaps you believe they really care about getting dogs adopted, go right ahead. I do not feel that way. I know too much about the chronic pattern of cruelty, laziness and killing at this place.

      Reply
    • As long as a shelter ‘talks the talk’ they don’t have to ‘walk the walk’. Use the right buzzwords, say that you really care, and that’s good enough for some people even when reality shows the stark opposite.

      Reply
  19. CatRescue

     /  February 20, 2011

    It is just as bad up north. A fire on Jan 10 at an apartment building in Philadelphia left about a dozen cats trapped inside a flooded, burned out building with no food or clean water, or heat in sub-freezing temps. Animal control, L&I and the mayor were all aware of the situation and nothing was done for 36 days, and then only for one day did they try to trap. The building was set to be demolished with the pets still alive inside. One local RESCUE went in and was able to trap about half of the cats but one suffered liver damage from his ordeal after being trapped inside for 39 days.

    ABC news was aware of the situation… but yet they did nothing to raise awareness or help for the cats. What did they do? They showed, on day 37, an “extra feature” which spotlighted some cat in California that goes around at night stealing bathing suits and underpants off of people’s clotheslines.

    Reply
  20. Erica

     /  February 20, 2011

    RIP Shocker…..
    Matthew Pepper is heartless. AND, obviously on a power trip. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of AC ‘changing’ laws to their favor. Sadly, I am sure it won’t be the last. Regardless of if his PR stunt was planned before hand – considering everything that took place I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to hold off a bit before doing it – given that he over stepped his authority and as a result someone’s pet died from it. I hope Shockers owner DOES sue and go after them for what happened. While there is no guarantee anytime you put an animal under that something could occur which would result in an animal’s death…at most vet’s they have people watching the animal during the entire procedure AND afterwards until they know the animal is up and moving around. They keep all animals in one room after surgery and that room is constantly monitored by at least 1 vet tech – more if they had a lot of surgeries that day (I have seen it this way at every vet I have ever dealt with).

    We’re dealing with BSL laws here in Ohio – until just the past year the local AC&C wouldn’t even adopt out pit bull type dogs. Now they do, but list them as mix breeds and adopt them out – as long as they appear that they ‘could’ be mixed with something else…and what dog couldn’t look like it’s a mixed breed when we use pit bull as a generalization of the breed?

    About two years ago I had picked up a Beagle that was running loose and attempted to locate the owner. When I got no response and could not hold the dog any longer I called the ACO’s and asked them to come pick him up. During her time at our house, one of my neighbors stopped over to ask me about a “pit bull” that his brother had found wandering loose. (I’m known as the bull lady around here due to the pits that we have & foster all the time.) As I was talking to the neighbor the ACO calmly walked over and told us that it is the LAW that ANY homeless pit bull type dog had to be dropped at the AC facility or picked up by one of the ACO’s.

    I normally don’t bump heads with ACO’s – but this day was NOT a good one and I just got news that three pit type dogs that I wanted pulled from the same shelter get killed because of a ‘glitch’ where the rescue (I often times help) didn’t make it at the right time and the AC&C ended killing the dogs because the rescue was literally 5 minutes late, and I had JUST gotten the call prior to the ACO showing up to pick up the beagle.

    So when the ACO (who I know hates pit bull type dogs and does all she can to see them killed) made this comment I COULDN’T keep my mouth shut. I turned to her and said “BS – there is NO LAW in the county AT ALL that said that a pit bull type dog that is running loose HAD to go to the dog shelter”. She tried to ‘explain’ the law to me. I looked at her and told her that she was making it up and I knew the entire law regarding pits and that she could stick it. I turned away from her and continued talking to the neighbor and told him to have his brother bring the dog over and I would do a temperment test and check it out for them to see if it looked ok and what they would need to do with it – first to try and locate the owner and then if they decided to keep it I told them I would work with them & the dog if they needed for basic obedience.

    At this point the ACO (who was still standing behind me) butted in and again repeated what her take of the ‘law’ was and at this time she told me that she was going to get a search warrant for MY house and be back within the next few days to remove any unlicensed dogs that I had in my care. I just laughed at her and told her thanks for getting the beagle, but we had no other business and she could go now. I pointed out that I signed all the paperwork and she needed nothing else from me…so goodbye. She FINALLY left, and my neighbor apologized all over himself for causing problems. I told him there was no problem He’s thinking that this ACO was actually going to get a search warrant and check out my house. I told him that she was just talking out the side of her mouth and twisting things because she hates pits and wants them ALL turned in so she could have them killed. She was full of it and I called her on it.

    I called her boss after finishing up with my neighbor and repeated what happened. He apologized all over the place for what she did and said he’d talk with her. Lucky for me I KNEW the law, but it came to me that there are a LOT of people that have pets but aren’t as aware of what the laws are regarding pets/animals and many of them would take an ACO at they word since they are supposed to be the experts on animal law.

    Reply
  21. tami

     /  February 20, 2011

    I’m not even going to TOUCH on MSN, but , having worked in and volunteered with s/n clinics,I want to address the “anesthetic reaction”.
    What vet would allow a patient to recover with NO ONe monitoring it?!? While performing 25-60 sx a day,we always have at least one person dedicated to recovery.All the while ,the vets and other techs keep their eyes open for any unusual recoveries. Even volunteers are trained to do this.Induction and recovery are THE most likely times for reactions. Surgical procedure 101.

    Reply
  22. The Shelter Director is a brainless “Hitler”,a dangerous jerk!!! Should be fired and replaced by a person with compassion and some good sense!! There is no excuse for the refusal to return the dogs to their owner, they were pets not strays or feral!!! He certainly should not have made an “ass” of himself by making light of someones misery!!!

    Reply
    • So strays and ferals don’t deserve to be safe?
      I’m hoping that what I think you said isn’t what you meant.

      Reply
  23. Susan K Hawkins

     /  February 20, 2011

    I am just stunned. How can we get Pepper canned and then find a COMPETENT animal shelter director who can move toward a no-kill shelter?
    While I am a firm believer that we should all spay/neuter our animals to prevent unwanted litters, I also respect the owner’s position that it should be his choice since he’s a responsible pet-owner. (However, he needs to find a way to eliminate the risk of his dogs’ getting out if he wants to retain that choice in the future. This whole thing could have been prevented if the dogs hadn’t gotten out.)

    Matthew Pepper had NO right to insist that Shocker be neutered at the shelter! Absolutely none! So he alone has Shocker’s blood on his hands. He needs to be fired and removed from the possibility of working with animals ever again. He doesn’t deserve to.

    Reply
  24. Unfortunately you know people are going to come out of the wood works defending this shelter and vilifying the owner. They do it every time a dog gets loose or a cat is outside.

    They will say that, “the owner should never have let his dogs escape, and why were they not already neutered, and I would never let that happen and that shelter is just doing their job.” I get so freaking tired of that.

    When my dad was caught building an addition to our house without the proper permit they didn’t come over and burn the damn house down. They let him apply for the permit and continue his work. Why is the only time people come out to defend the overreach of the law is when it involves killing some poor animal?

    Reply
    • Justifying the mass slaughter of homeless animals has been drummed into many people for decades. As a result, it’s the first knee-jerk response many (otherwise animal-loving) people have when this issue comes up.

      Reply
  25. Christine Murray

     /  February 20, 2011

    What an ASS this Mr. Pepper is. I hope, from this tragedy comes an awful lot of grief for Pepper, a law suit and termination of employment, just to mention two.
    My deep sympathy goes to Shocker’s owner and hope justice prevails for him.

    Reply
  26. Leslie

     /  February 21, 2011

    BTK (serial killer) also worked in animal control for a while & also was on a power trip MURDERING people’s pets AS AN ACT OF CRUELTY. MOST MURDERERS OF PEOPLE START OUT KILLING ANIMALS AND ACTS OF CRUELTY. Matthew Pepper is a sicko-bast**d and should be fired immediately. But this is how our whole society is going-down the spinning toilet. MEDIA RARELY if EVER cover stories “properly” since they are bought and paid for ‘propaganda tools’ of the corporations who run government. When are going to see people in this country stand up together and rally for change?

    Reply
  27. Donna Lake

     /  February 21, 2011

    This is bullshit. he had no right to keep ur dogs.
    you must do something about this. get all ur friends together an stand in front of the shelter and say what an ass they are. Had you taken them to ur VET
    this would not have happened….I’m very sorry for you.

    Reply
  28. Memphis residents can sign a petition to replace Matthew Pepper with a compassionate director:
    http://www.nokillmemphis.org/replacematthewpepper_13.html

    Reply
    • CAthyA

       /  February 21, 2011

      Signing a petition is not enough.

      Speak to the elected public official who represents you in local government.

      Go to local and regional meetings of those entities that support the AC with YOUR tax dollars.

      Please participate in your local government by attending meetings! They will do exactly what they want unless you go, get your issue on the agenda and speak!

      Reply
  29. Anne

     /  February 21, 2011

    I have to say i’m kind of suprised as to most of the comments on this one.
    From what i read i didn’t see that Matthew Pepper ‘murdered’ this dog (as some commenters said), or had any intentions of ending this dog’s life. The comments would make it seem as if this dog was killed before the owner could come get him, not accidentally died after a neuter surgery.

    Did the vet services staff in charge of this surgery act negligently? yes. Was the death preventable? maybe.
    Should Matthew Pepper have refunded the cost of the surgery? probably (although- part of me is suprised they charged for the surgery anyway since they required it to be done there.) Should he have owned up to the accidental death? yes. Should they have cancelled their pre-planned fundraising event because a dog died in surgery? no.

    That’s the way i see it (from just reading this story- i did not look at any other links and am not familiar with any sort of other problems with Pepper)

    Just thought i’d share a differing POV

    Reply
    • Donna Lake

       /  February 21, 2011

      The thing is he had no right to do any surgery on this women’s dogs. He is not her vet…She should not be charged a dime for anything…What he did was wrong..

      Reply
      • Kim

         /  February 21, 2011

        I just want to clarify that Matthew Pepper himself did not perform the surgery. A veterinarian, either employed by the shelter or on the shelter’s behalf, performed the surgery.

    • Kim

       /  February 21, 2011

      Anne, while I have total respect for your opinion, I’m going to have to object to your presentation of it here.

      Here are some facts gathered from your post.

      1. The veterinary staff acted “negligently” in their care of Shocker.

      2. The death was “maybe” preventable.

      3. Pepper “probably” should have refunded the cost of the surgery.

      4. Pepper should have owned up to the to the “accidental death.”

      I’m leaving out the comments about the PR stunt – I have mixed feelings about this, and I don’t doubt that part of their motivation for putting on this stunt was to get some positive PR. As YesBiscuit noted in a comment, this is a shelter with some serious, systemic, chronic issues relating to animal welfare and safety.

      Do you understand that you’ve referred to the incident as “negligence” on the part of the veterinary staff? Let’s just look at that word for a moment (bear with me).

      Negligence: “the failure to exercise that degree of care that, in the circumstances, the law requires for the protection of other persons or those interests of other persons that may be injuriously affected by the want of such care.”

      I think this is definitely the appropriate word.

      However, I’m not sure if that gels with the rest of your comments.

      After determining that the veterinary staff was negligent, and taking into account that Matthew was simply making up the rules as he went along (presumably to increase the fees paid to him by the dogs’ owner – why else would they require the use of the in house veterinarian?), I’m not sure you can make the argument that the the incident was “maybe” preventable.

      The term negligence literally means that the situation was preventable, and that their negligence caused the death. Which is certainly the case here – no one who has been behind the scenes in a veterinary setting (techs, receptionists, vets, rescuers, etc) understand that recovery from a surgical procedure involving general anesthetic ALWAYS involves at the very least a kennel employee trained to recognize the signs of distress and/or reaction to supervise throughout the recovery period. Wrapping a drugged dog in a blanket and dumping them in an out of the way kennel is NEGLIGENT behaviour.

      Considering that the cause of death was NEGLIGENCE, he should have not only apologized for the outcome and refunded their money – he should have done much more. Sadly, I doubt any lawyer worth his salt would advise against this in a really big way.

      In regards to the upcoming PR event, I think that it should have been brought up to Shocker’s owner, and Matthew should have offered to cancel the event out of respect.

      My point is that while I agree with your basic premise (that in THIS particular case ONLY – while Matthew was responsible there is no information that suggests he alone is in charge of decisions made by veterinary staff. Of course, it’s equally as plausible that as the shelter director it was his decision regarding how many people would be involved (ie., we don’t need a recovery tech, and we’re not going to pay one). The fact is we just don’t know.

      Bottom line, however, is that is that this incident can not be described as “negligent,” “maybe preventable” and “accidental” all in the same breath.

      The shelter was negligent. This much we are all sure of.

      The shelter is run by Matthew Pepper – who made the decision to force this owner not only to neuter their pets (which is frustrating enough – although the blame is on the legislation) but to neuter them through the shelter as opposed to using their own trusted veterinarian.

      Sorry, but from where I sit, this was a clear cut case of negligence. Does the veterinary staff deserve a good chunk of the blame for failing to provide Shocker with appropriate care? Hell yes – they are the medical professionals on staff, and medical decisions such as surgical protocols are ultimately in their hands. It is ultimately up to them to lay down the line and say “we’re not proceeding until these issues have been addressed.”

      But when all is said and done Matthew Pepper is the cause of this problem thanks to… greed? Ego? Who knows.

      Also, I think it’s REALLY important to look at the history of Matthew Pepper and the laundry list of horror stories emanating from his shelter. Of which he is the Director.

      Any manager with any sense of responsibility understands that when you are put into that position, you have agreed to oversee every aspect of the shelter’s policies and procedures – and to accept responsibility when those policies and procedures fail. Not only that, immediate steps should be taken to ensure that things are made as right as possible (although nothing will make up for what Shocker and his owner have gone through, he hasn’t even tried. He CHARGED them money to kill their dog – illegally).

      I see where you’re coming from, I too have a bit of discomfort with the term “murderer” in that it wasn’t him who killed the dog directly. Unfortunately, when he took it upon himself to invent new rules and then hold the dogs hostage until the owner complied, he’s at LEAST an “accessory to murder”.

      And I also just want to add that I get it – about 1 in 1000 dogs die during ANY procedure involving anesthetic. 0.1%. Pretty good odds. However, when you add negligent behaviour to the equation, who can say? The odds of a reaction are more difficult to pin down, but one has to assume they’re pretty high. After all, you don’t know if your dog will react negatively until after you’ve done the surgery. And when your “negligence” involves taking a dog straight from surgery to be left on his own with no monitoring, I would make an educated guess that the potential for issues (of a variety of causes!) is increased exponentially.

      If Pepper had not taken the law into his own hands, this would not have happened. Shocker would have been neutered in a proper veterinary clinic and subsequently would have received appropriate after care including the recovery period. Many times all that is needed are additional fluids to flush the system, an antihistamine and perhaps a few other injections to deal with symptoms. These reactions are generally handled quickly and efficiently by staff trained to catch these problems at their onset – not staff who will simply dump him in another room and forget about him for a few hours.

      Matthew Pepper may not have physically performed a murder – but he is most certainly responsible for the death of Shocker.

      **My apologies for rambling (surely you’re all used to it by now… ;O) but I really do see where you’re coming from. Perhaps my interpretation will help you to see the train of thought I followed to ultimately agree with a majority of the previous comments.**

      Reply
      • Donna Lake

         /  February 21, 2011

        I don’t care who the Vet was. It was still
        WRONG, WRONG, WRONG

      • Kim

         /  February 21, 2011

        I was under the impression that you simply misspoke – but now that you’ve clarified that…

        It’s hard to take your opinion seriously when it’s not based on the facts.

        That’s all I’m sayin’.

      • Anne

         /  February 21, 2011

        Thanks for your reply. it looks like we (for the most part) are on the same page.
        I do stand by my assessment that the vet staff’s negligence didn’t directly cause the dog’s death- the allergic reaction did. even with appropriate vet care the dog may have still died- we’ll never know (one of my staff’s 3 year old great dane died at his vet last week after a routine dental cleaning- recovered fine from surgery, was just getting ready to go home when he collapsed and died 5 minutes later- the clinic couldn’t restart his heart. They think either heart attack or clot). That’s not to say that i CONDONE their actions- it’s the whole reason why animals are monitored after surgery- to PREVENT these things from happening.

        One other thing i wanted to mention- you had said something that the only reason they would’ve required their in-house vet was because of the fees. i’m not saying that’s not true, but maybe it was also to insure compliance. years ago when my shelter wasn’t yet sterilizing every animal, we’d require sterilization deposits in order to make sure our animals were sterilized after adoption. The majority of them never were. it’s one thing to SAY that they will get their pet sterilized, but in my experience, i’m glad everything’s sterilized now before leaving the shelter.

        I don’t agree with cancelling a fundraising event because a dog died in surgery (negligently or otherwise)- who knows how much money they had wrapped up in that event. And how many animals that fundraiser would ultimately help (hell- maybe it’ll pay for an improved surgical suite- with cometent staff. One can hope…)

        So to clarify- it’s horrible that the dog died, Pepper did not have the right to require the dog be sterilized at their shelter, and he should have addressed the problem with some sort of apology/refund/policy change

      • Kim

         /  February 21, 2011

        Anne, you’re contradicting yourself again. You say above:

        “One other thing i wanted to mention- you had said something that the only reason they would’ve required their in-house vet was because of the fees. i’m not saying that’s not true, but maybe it was also to insure compliance. years ago when my shelter wasn’t yet sterilizing every animal, we’d require sterilization deposits in order to make sure our animals were sterilized after adoption.”

        First, that’s not an excuse. There is no reason that they couldn’t have required pre-payment to the vet of their choice, and Animal Control could have taken the dog themselves for the surgical drop off – and the owner could have picked up their now neutered dog (keeping in mind that MSN does exist – and ignoring how badly I want to rant about the problems with just that fact…).

        Secondly, you go on to say:

        “So to clarify- it’s horrible that the dog died, Pepper did not have the right to require the dog be sterilized at their shelter, and he should have addressed the problem with some sort of apology/refund/policy change”

        Ok, it’s not just horrible that the dog died – it is CRIMINAL. But then you go on to say that Pepper did not, in fact, have the right to require the dog be sterilized at the shelter.

        I’m just not sure how in one breath you can excuse this fact with reason, and the next you admit that Pepper was at fault.

        The REASON that this animal died was because it was in a substandard facility for a surgical procedure… illegally. Had this dog been in an appropriate environment, it’s possible that better quality sedatives, anesthetics, and recovery would have been used. In fact, it’s PROBABLE.

        Come to think of it, I would not only be suing Pepper – I would be suing the veterinarian who is handling the case. Ultimately the vet is responsible for ensuring that the location and staff are adequate for any procedures they perform.

      • Anne

         /  February 21, 2011

        Well, unfortunately i don’t see how i’m contradicting myself even after you explained it…

        As previously stated, I’m not saying that they didn’t require the surgery for the fees. i was just trying to offer alternative reasonings behind the decision process (playing devil’s advocate if you will). I also didn’t say that my alternative reason was a good excuse, or that there weren’t other solutions that could be tried. i was just offering it as a possible reasoning, as my shelter had struggled with a semi-similar problem years ago.

        And do we KNOW that the surgery suite and facility is sub-standard? Or is it just assumed because this is a shelter and not a vet clinic? One of my shelters just built a state of the art surgery suite that would put some vet clinics to shame. And as our surgery vets spend 90% of their days just performing sterilizations, i would argue that they are better at it than some (most?) small animal vets (their incisions are certainly smaller and more clean in my experience).
        And i was under the impression that an anesthesia allergy is not necessarily avoidable with ‘higher quality’ meds…just careful observation and fast reaction time to attempt to treat the reaction (but maybe i’m wrong on that)

        Again- i’m not saying that this excuses anything, i’m just offering a different POV.
        I’m pretty sure we’re arguing in circles even though we’ve come to the same conclusion :-)

      • Kim

         /  February 21, 2011

        Higher quality drugs *are* higher quality because they have a smaller chance of causing a reaction. For example, acepromazine is still frequently used as a surgical sedative – the rates of reaction to this drug are astronomical.

        http://www.ehow.com/about_5070166_side-effects-acepromazine.html

        Acepromazine can cause abnormally low blood pressure – startlingly fast – when used at standard doses.

        Many vets are also still using haloflurane, despite much better choices being available.

        These are just two examples. So yes, the drugs used can absolutely affect the chances of a negative outcome.

        As for the state of the facility at this shelter, since you’ve already stated you haven’t looked into this shelter’s past history – I would suggest you do that. I can assure you that this is NOT a state-of-the-art facility.

        Now, is it possible that even if the dog went to their regular vet that low quality drugs would be used? Of course. But that is the *choice* of the owner. Personally, I don’t use veterinarians who consider these drugs standard protocol. I can also assure you that pre-surgical blood screening was not done, IV fluids were likely not provided and the pain meds were minimal.

        These facilities are set up to do low cost procedures. Plain and simple. We have a similar set up at my local shelter – although I can’t imagine the vet who operates there would ever consider it appropriate to leave a patient in recovery unattended for even a minute.

        I generally enjoy someone playing devil’s advocate… but in this case someone’s pet has been killed. A pet that never should have been in that facility for a surgical procedure to begin with. That is not their job, it’s not what they do.

        Medical decisions should be between a Doctor and their client – human, dog, cat, I don’t care. They each deserve individual care and attention. For a paper pusher like Matthew Pepper to get involved and hold two pets hostage is inexcusable.

        (there’s a big difference, by the way, between compliance with an MSN law and compliance with spay/neuter requirements at your shelter. By all means, if the animals are in your care you should be using the facilities available to you if your goal is to have all of the pets you adopt out to be altered. This does NOT give a shelter director the right to insist on his facilities being used to perform medical procedures on the neighbourhood pets)

  30. If I was in charge of a shelter and a dog died on my watch due to veterinary negligence, I honestly don’t think I’d feel like dressing up in a dog costume and dancing for a PR event – no matter how good the cause. And I’d feel obligated to face the music and take the heat from the press and the inevitable public outcry. I’d apologize to the owner, give him back the money he requested and do what I could to try to make things right. Me personally – not a PR spokesman. I’d try to reassure the public that they are not paying me to run a negligent shelter where I make up my own “laws” and dogs die due to negligence. I’d let anyone who would listen know about the changes I’ve instituted to ensure this never happens again.

    But hey, that’s just me.

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  February 21, 2011

      No, I don’t think it’s “just” you that feels this way.

      Hypothetically – even without having all the facts about what a horridly ridiculous shelter this is (under Pepper’s care mind you) – if I were to read this story I would have to say that given this story – and ONLY this story that what you outlined above should EXACTLY be the BEGINNING on what SHOULD have taken place.

      BUT, since I DO know about the history of this shelter – I have to say that this is just another thing against Pepper, and how he runs this shelter – that this place is not only ripe for change but definitely needs it more than some others that we know with issues….especially given the fact that Pepper DOES sit on the board of the NACA. I don’t understand how we can have a shelter director that not only makes his own interpretation of the law and runs a shelter that is full of problems, while at the same time oversees a group that is set up to help train ACO’s and also basically sets up the rights/wrongs of ACO’s everywhere. Now that is scary!

      Reply
    • Anne

       /  February 21, 2011

      I think that if he had done right by the customer in the first place (offering some sort of reparations), then going forward with your fundraiser would be fine

      Maybe i’m skewed though- i work at a rather large shelter and we have an actual Events Department- those staff are responsible for the fundraising events and really don’t have much to do with day to day operations. They probably wouldn’t even be aware about a specific animal situation. but again- we’re a large shelter with multiple locations

      Reply
  31. Anonymous

     /  February 21, 2011

    How do we know this is veterinary negligence? How many times do veterinary clinics keep pets in their clinics overnight after surgery and there is no one there to monitor the pets? Sadly, this pet died after surgery, but where is there anything to suggest that it died do to negligence? Allergic reactions happen. My chihuahua mix had a severe allergic reaction about 45 minutes after receiving a rabies vaccine. We were already back home when the swelling started. It was no body’s fault – it just happened.

    Reply
    • It’s veterinary negligence to perform surgery on pets and then leave them unattended during recovery. The only hope of saving the life of a pet who has an allergic reaction to the anesthetic is this monitoring. While there’s no way to know with any certainty what the outcome would have been for Shocker had MAS not been negligent, we do know that their negligence is inexcusable. Further, the handling – or I should say MIShandling – of the incident afterward is unacceptable

      Reply
    • Erica

       /  February 21, 2011

      Most vets I know do have someone that does night visits – they check on post surgery animals, provides meds if needed, and basically checks up on ALL the animals. Some places even pay a vet tech to stay later to make sure those who had surgeries later in the day are up and moving with no issues before they leave for the night.

      Reply
    • Anne

       /  February 21, 2011

      we don’t have overnight monitoring on our surgery animals- but surgery is done by 4pm at the latest and staff are in until 8, so they are monitored during that time
      i don’t think we’ve ever had an animal die overnight due to surgery complications (even immediate post surgery deaths are rare- maybe 5 in 20,000)

      Reply
  32. alice in LALA land

     /  February 23, 2011

    OWNED dogs should never have to castrated before leaving a shelter..and yes I do mean NEVER.. what is the purpose of that? The dog is owned. The castration is merely punishment for the owner…..that this time resulted in the death of an OWNED dog..pay a fine.. sure.. but castration with the risk of death of an owned dog.. NO WAY NO HOW..
    Pepper isn’t worth his salt

    Reply
  33. AL

     /  March 4, 2011

    IDIOTS !!!!!!!

    Too bad they cant euthanize the idiots working at this shelter.

    What the hell is wrong with these people and how is it possible that they can keep thir jobs and even worst as a tax payer I cant believe my taxes go to pay imbeciles like this. Just a small example of why our goverment run organizations are in such trouble. It’s truly disturbing how most goverment agencies practice business, most of my local shelters, sadly have the same idiotic practices ” and we wonder why we are in trouble ” .

    Reply
  34. Jessica

     /  April 7, 2011

    Ohhh man this is awful! MAS is just lucky that it wasnt my dog. I would fight tooth and nail to get compensation no matter what it cost not only to Pepper (though it was mostly his fault because he is the director overseeing things), the vet, the vet technician who the vet couldve passed responsibility off to, whoever. And that would just be the beginning. My dog is spayed and lives in AZ so thank God I dont have to worry that I live in Memphis dealing with lunatics like him. If I did (live in Memphis), Id be terrified of my dog running away otherwise she may come in contact with psychopaths like him. By the time Id get down there, theyd probably kill her and say “oops sorry, we didnt have the extra space”. MATTHEW PEPER NEEDS TO GO!

    Reply
  35. jamie

     /  May 3, 2011

    Well since he wanted to mock the animals he cares so little about maybe they should have put a choke pole on him and drug him straight back to the kill room like they do all of the other dogs.

    Reply
  36. Mel

     /  June 9, 2011

    I know this is an old thread but I was just reading this article http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/feb/11/animal-director-has-pet-project/ and my jaw hit the floor when I read, “For those who wonder if cats are being excluded, Chancellor has an answer: there just aren’t as many cats who come through the shelter, since there aren’t laws requiring that they be captured if running loose.” Is it just me or does anyone else have an issue with Chancellor’s message? It makes it sound like cats in MAS are easily being adopted and making it out alive because they rarely come through. Omg, I want to strangle this stupid woman!

    Reply

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