Dog Adoptions Resume at MAS, Needed Changes Still Lacking

The ABC affiliate in Memphis reports that as of Friday afternoon, the Memphis Animal Services shelter had 2 dogs available for adoption.  Which seems to be roughly the same number of cats visible on the shelter webcams this weekend:

Why so many empty cat cages at a facility that says it "has to" kill 77% of its pets for space?

Regarding the recent canine distemper outbreak, the latest kill number is apparently 90:

[Shelter director Matthew] Pepper said about 90 animals were euthanized over a three day period because they were sick or showed possible signs of being sick.

Some shelter dogs were killed because they “showed possible signs of being sick”. What is this – a sneeze, a cough, refusal to eat? Did a veterinarian determine the dogs needed to be killed because of these “possible signs”? If not, who made those calls?  Couldn’t the dogs who only showed “possible signs” have been quarantined via media outreach to the public for assistance like they did in Miami-Dade?

Mr. Pepper also tells the reporter that changes are being made at the shelter in order to reduce disease transmission. These changes however, do not include vaccination upon intake for all pets nor a change to recommended shelter cleaning protocols to prevent disease spread.  To my mind, these two changes would be the most effective in preventing the spread of disease at the shelter and by continuing to ignore them, the shelter demonstrates a willful failure of adherence to best practices.  If it was the case that MAS simply said “Yes, we refuse to implement best practices so shove off”, that would be one thing.  But  there are some serious problems here:

  1. The shelter is publicly funded so the decision to ignore best practices is not one they should make alone.
  2. The shelter continually blames the public for failing to vaccinate their personal pets but in fact, the shelter itself does not have an across the board vaccination protocol in place.  Worse, any lost pets who come in as strays and sit in the sub-standard shelter environment for a few days before being reclaimed by their owners are bringing disease back out into the community.
  3. The shelter does not in fact admit they are the ones failing to implement best practices to manage the spread of disease at their facility but instead tell the media that killing is the most effective management tool.

Memphis – this is your public animal shelter. Are you willing to demand better of the public servants being paid by your taxes?

8 thoughts on “Dog Adoptions Resume at MAS, Needed Changes Still Lacking

  1. And I thought about your “killing for space” comment and how I keep seeing a floor dryer housed in a cage that could hold a live animal. How many cats had to die week after week so that floor dryer can sit in that cage, taking up valuable space?

    “BS” doesn’t begin to cover Pepper’s jackassery.

    Would a phone campaign to local government officials make a difference, do you think? Everyone calling in with ONE point each(“they kill for space, but there are empty cages”, “they kill for sickness without a vet’s opinion”, “they won’t change cleaning protocols even though they cause the dogs distress and spread disease”, “they won’t vaccinate on intake”, “the workers are carrying puppies like luggage”) day after day after day can we embarrass them into acting like grownups?

  2. The city officials do not even care about the homeless, so why would they care about animals??? “Mayor” Wharton proved that yesterday by attending a photo op of himself riding a bicycle, foolishly without a helmet, during the “Tour de Grizz” instead of attending a symposium about the homeless plan that HE wrote!!!

  3. I will be the devil’s advocate here for a moment.

    When discussing shelter herd health of the animals and best practices you must consider the experts in Shelter Medicine whose protocols include empty cage space as a must for a healthy environment.

    Also, vaccinating upon intake is a work in progress due to the time needed for the animals to build up immunity. There are many variables, and it seems many assumptions are being made.

    Isolation is dependent on disease, some cats will become too stressed and become more ill if moved from their familiar area and should be isolated in place.

    Being an open admission shelter that does not euthanize for space note it takes time to build relationships. Requesting better from your shelter is great, but be ready to jump on board and review current practices with the experts (prior to complete condemnation of the caregivers and administration) and identify what does work and what doesn’t.

    Many open admission shelters are willing to work cooperatively if the goal is to help the animals, a key point is understanding their limitationsm with highly aggressive dogs and their role concerning public safety making them different than a Humane Society. Cooperation is more forthcoming when your intention is not to throw the shelter under the bus.

    1. We don’t need to throw the “shelter” under the bus – they have done a fine job of that themselves…while continuing to blame the public for ALL the problems AND admitting that their cleaning protocol isn’t ‘the best’ that it could be. Pepper himself made THAT statement.

      While I agree that many shelters are willing to work cooperatively IF the goal is to help the animals. MAS has should us repeatedly over the past week(s) that their goal is not so much to help the animals as it is to cover their butts for their flubs that seem to be a continual problem.

      Even AFTER the “bust” in ’09 – that included a change of shelter director AND vet…they still continue to keep felons of their pay roll AND even though they put on paper that they created a task force to address issues such as cleaning, vaccinations, etc. it has been a BIG FAT failure. Nothing has changed – and now their “volunteer” group FMAS is helping in the CYA moves of the director and city officials that are willfully failing to do what is best for the animals.

      Sadly – I have watched them drag dog around – pick them up and carry them down the corridor by their collar…not only the “proper” way to carry a dog but also a way that will choke the dog and limit its air supply while being carried to the euth room. It’s stressful enough for the poor dogs – they “know” what goes on in THAT room and to add additional stress prior to killing them just tells me they don’t CARE about the animals.

  4. Something that REALLY bugs me about this place – they have the financial ability to have someone in place with proper training on pet retention counseling. Yet, they do not. They use to allow owner surrenders a 24 hour period of time in which they could reclaim their animal and Pepper has decided to do away with that. That’s just going to increase the kill rate, especially if Pepper decides the dog/cat is not a good adoption candidate.

    AND – we still do not have an EXACT number of animals that were killed….Pepper said “about 90” and since he IS the director he should know exactly how many animals were killed because of their assbackwards protocols/procedures.

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