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:
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:
- The shelter is publicly funded so the decision to ignore best practices is not one they should make alone.
- 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.
- 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?