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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.