Snapshots from Memphis Animal Services


Several cats sit in wire cages and boxes on the floor; a cart with empty cages stands nearby.
Cats left alone.
A dog on a choke pole is forced to walk through cleaning solution. I wonder if it burns.
I blame the public.
This dog does not want to go.
The entire row of kennels on the right was emptied out by 5 o'clock.

39 thoughts on “Snapshots from Memphis Animal Services

  1. Everyone needs to come to the meeting NEXT Wednesday! THEY continue to put the animals in harm’s way- they just don’t care! Oh, but it’s OUR fault?!

  2. So they are STILL on kill mode? Will the BS ever end? Are they still killing from the distemper outbreak – which I was lead to believe they had under control since they have thoroughly disinfected the shelter? Or is this more killing for space? (As if they don’t have enough empty cages.)

    All the cats left unsupervised by the front door…too bad someone didn’t walk in and take them! At least then they would’ve had a chance at life. Looked like the entire staff was on a coffee break at the same time and got called away to pull some more dogs to kill. Regardless – totally irrresponsible to leave those kitties alone like that – but I’m sure it’s the public’s fault…somehow.

    Pepper needs fired…they need to elect a new mayor…and they can begin to start fresh with an entire new staff at their new building. If I hear ONE more “volunteer” stand up for this joke of a shelter I may just shoot myself!

    1. Sadly, MAS is always in “kill mode”. Many of us were rightfully upset that they were killing dogs during the distemper outbreak rather than reaching out to the public for help with quarantine but the fact is, this shelter kills more than 3/4 of its pets. Killing is always on the menu at MAS.

      1. But, yet Pepper is going to say that he ‘thinks’ they can become no kill? I guess he doesn’t understand that first part of the no kill equation is to STOP KILLING….boy is he in for a rude awakening.

        We have this thing in my family that when you are struggling and getting hit with problems left & right – that it’s God’s way of whacking us with a 2×4 to wake us up. While I do not condone violence, I would love to be the person to hit Pepper upside the head with a 2×4 in this case! (Doubt it will help change things at MAS, but sure would make ME feel better…not that I’d really do it mind you, but the thought sounds lovely.)

      2. Ethel – I have begun to see just that in his responses to people that he has actually bothered to respond to that is! Plus you read one thing in one news article and then another thing in another news article. He changes his ‘stance’ more than most people change their underwear! Does he EVER attend the monthly meetings? I sent an e-mail and asked just that question and pointed out that as director he should be attending eacha nd every one and take notes on what is being discussed. I have yet to hear back from ANYONE I have written – many multiple times. I’m curious to hear how the meeting goes next week…

        Do you happen to know if these meetings are televised at all? I’m thinking about sending a few e-mails to some ‘local’ news stations and see if any of them will be in attendance…especially in light of all that is happening at the “shelter” to see if it can help gain some more public support – because I think if more people KNEW about what was REALLY happening there might be a greater turn out at the meetings and then they’ll have no choice but to put up or shut up. We’ll see how it goes….

  3. Erica- I got a visual and had to laugh – I also don’t condone violence but someone needs to knock some sense (figuratively speaking) into Matthew Pepper’s head. I noticed that more “work” is done in the wee morning hours, probably in hopes that not too many people are up and watching all of the wrong-doings on the webcams…..and yes, wish the kitties could have escaped – wish they all would – much better chance of survival!

  4. Still cannot figure out if they really enjoy killing or if the bunch of them are stupid/evil!
    Never mind -the animals are dead either way!
    Not a violent person myself, but maybe smacking Pepper and his pals upside the head might be a good fund raiser . . . But they don’t need the money because they kill most of them!

  5. Are they all men working at this facility? I find that odd actually.
    Our Animal Control Director was put on administrative leave pending sexual harassment complaints. He resigned a while back. The current director is female. We have both male and female ACO’s and animal tenders at our municipal facility.
    At least they don’t seem partial to killing only male or female animals or just cats or dogs…they seem rather an equal opportunity death provider. Bully for them. Do they get ANY federal funding? I wish to revoke my tax dollars.

    1. Male and female employes here. Equal opportunity ACO’s also. And believe me the women are just as “hard” as the men. They use those catch poles on even small dogs like no one’s business.

      The city owns this shelter. Perhaps privately run it would increase adoptions, lower death rates, and have a higher quality of employees. As for tax dollars, I would say yes since it is city run.

  6. Exactly LynnO – they are just that…bullies…bullies that kill.

    Thank you YesBiscuit for your work…you deserve a Pulitzer or a prize of some sort…but what you want is what we all want and that is NO KILL.

  7. I’m a staunchly non violent person but scenes like the ones I see here make me understand what drives some animal rights people to take the other road. If I could sneak in there and steal these animals, if I had a place to home them…damn it would be sooooooooo tempting. I keep hoping emails and letters and calls and voting will eventually win this for the animals but it seems sometimes to be such an uphill battle.
    I know more and more people care, more want to help and more want the killing to stop every day. I just grieve for all those for who the killing will stop too late.

  8. If this is what they do in the areas with cameras, what are they doing in areas where they’re not being watched?

    I really hope that the locals tell them in no uncertain terms that this is UNACCEPTABLE.

    And if Matthew Pepper doesn’t know his shelter is being run like this, he should be fired. If he does know, he should be fired.

    Stop the jackassery. Run this place like professionals or get the hell out.

    1. I totally agree Mikken – I cannot imagine what is being done in areas where no one is watching. These photos are horrifying and I am completely disgusted. I also am disgusted by the Friends of MAS Facebook page insistence on deleting any posts that arent sunshine and rainbows, and them acting like the public is to blame. Yes we in the public do need to continue working on the spay/neuter cause and vaccinating animals but some compassion and following procedures recommended by their own vet would be a huge step. I was so hopeful when Pepper came on board but apparently he is no better than the previous director. This just breaks my heart. :(

      1. And Jim Donahue and his ugly and hate-filled posts where he calls people “jackass” (which he cannot even spell correctly)!!!

      2. KG- Re Jim Donahue- grouchy, crabby person that he is- THAT is the face of MAS – yes, some of those posts are unbelievable. When people ask, on that website, about adoptable dogs (isn’t that the goal?!)- he says they are not the shopping channel – the administrators of that website do more harm than good- what a shame!

    2. KG and Beth yes – I was aghast when he called that person a jackass on FB the other day. What is he thinking? I mean, no its not the shopping channel but people who might want to give these animals a legitimately good home arent even given common courtesy when they ask a question? Maybe the potential adopter lives a half hour drive away, or more, and doesnt want to drive over only to be told that their dog has already been killed. I know I wouldn’t! Even if the FMAS people dont have the answer, their constant rudeness and snarky attitude is absolutely unacceptable and they are making it even harder for these poor animals to get adopted.

      1. Speaking for myself, I can hardly bear to walk through the rows of a kill shelter and I will only do it if it’s the only way to save a life and nobody else can do it. If I was a potential adopter in Memphis, I would be seeking definitive confirmation the dog I was interested in was ALIVE before I drove over there. In addition, i would request a DO NOT KILL hold to be placed on the dog to try and avoid having him killed “accidentally” before I got there. A volunteer or shelter staffer who can not confirm a dog is alive for a potential adopter – well, what’s the point?

      2. I suggested that they at least learn the breeds so they could get them straight. For example they had Rudy listed as a Shih Tzu when in reality he is a Lhasa Apso and Jim Donahue messaged me an incredibly long, droning and extremely rude message saying he did not know what MY problem is. I am not the one with the problem and I told him so.

  9. Are they not braking the hold law? I mean if they are killing the dogs as fast as they come in how would anyone be able to reclaim a lost pet?

    Did they find that killing the dogs as fast as possible gives them let dog poop to clean up? Will they ever stop the killing? How long has this been going on now? So sad.

    People of Memphis you have the power to stop this — please use your numbers and demand better of your leaders!

  10. This is just…this used to be plain heartbreaking but now its really making me mad and irritated that it keeps happening, even after Pepper claims he will try his best to stop it. How the heck can you stop it if you dont step in or are never around to do so?! Youre the freakin shelter director!! Act like one!!

  11. I dont understand why everyone is so shocked!!! My mommy used to work at an animal shelter that the city thought the world of, but the truth is, if 1 dog or cat got sick, they all got euthanized, no exceptions. Most of the time they where euthanized for POSSIBLY having ringworm, there was no way to tell for sure so the policy was if in doubt euthanize! In one day they euthanized 2 diff wings of dogs and cats, 27 dogs total and 16 cats total, the cats bc of a POSSIBLE ringworm on 1 cat, and the dogs bc of 2 having kennel cough!!!!!!!! This is a shelter that is supposed to be the city’s little jewel they have the public so misguided in their intentions its crazy!!! Everyone who dropped their animals off said they brought the animal to that shelter bc they heard it was no kill, and that they do everything in their power to ensure a fair chance of adoption. Well their pet prob got put down right after coming through the door!!!! This is not uncommon ppl! Open you eyes!!!!

  12. Just FYI there is a stray hold for 5 days unless the animals is deemed “unhealthy and untreatable” which can mean anything from kennel cough to ringworm to upper respiratory, they consider those untreatable even though they are treatable. Now if the animal is an owner surrender then its not safe the moment it come in, there is no hold for those animals, they can be taken back to the back room and euthanized just for being scared “which most are” or for having any of the above. This is sad I agree but this is the way it is in shelters that are not no-kill this is what the citys want!!! “WOOF!” It sickens me!!!!

    1. Who signs off on a pet with ringworm or a cold being “untreatable” – the shelter vet? Or is it someone else making these calls? Does the shelter vet do the killing herself? Does she even see these “untreatable” pets at any time before they are killed?

      1. No vet needed! As a matter of fact the vet hated that we euthanized animals with ringworm and upper respiratory and kennel cough!!! He hated that we euthanized animals that just LOOKED like they had ringworm but we did! It was up to the person over the cats, my mommy was unfortunatly over the cats, and its also up to the person over the dogs. They are told they HAVE to put the cats and dogs down if they look like they have ringworm, believe me they don’t have a choice, my mommy even tried to save some of them but they wouldn’t let her adopt them out, they said its not their policy to adopt out sick and injured animals. :( SAD BUT TRUE.

      2. Oh and to answer your questions the vet does not do the euthanasia the staff that goes to the euthanasia class does. My mommy refused to go because you have to euthanize a dog to pass the class, and most of the dogs where fine they just didnt have enough sick dogs or injured dogs for the class quota so they euthanized healthy dogs with “behavior problems” whatever that means. And yes the vet does a health check and gives his recommendations, ours always had great options but the director of operations shot them down and said “We do not adopt out sick animals” and signed off on them being euthanized. And I cannot tell you how many kittens and puppy are euthanized bc they are “too young and will most likely not survive to adoption” so they are all euthanized when they come in. :( its sooo sad!!! My mommy said the kittens made biscuits in the hands of the person who injected them with the poison and they purred as they died……… My mommy is still emotionally scarred from what she saw and had to do at that place, they fired her for speaking out against animal cruelty at another facility but since that facility’s director and the director of the shelter where friends they fired her, she is kinda glad to be away from the horror that she had to see everyday. She told me she will remember every face of every animal she put on “the list” and she will never forgive herself for what she did. never…..

    2. In Tennessee the law only requires a hold of 72 hours for strays, not 5 days.
      Owner surrender are allowed to be euthanized immediately.

      1. HMMM Maybe thats the law but we held strays for 5 days total unless they where sick or injured or looked bad then they where euthanized right away, and yeah the owner surrenders never stood a chance especially the cats, they usually freak out.

    1. I saw a post somewhere–maybe FB–about these e-mail messages to Pepper from the vet and how he ignored her instructions. But then couldn’t find the post again–so thanks for posting this news story here. IMHO Pepper is the real problem. No wonder the staff is said to like him–he’s not even making them do their jobs! Can’t believe he would claim there’s no place to put incoming animals except where the vet says not to put them–when we see rows of empty cages day after day.

  13. I think it’s time for a mass letter-writing campaign! Go to those meetings contact Pepper, send letters to the mayor and city officials! This is nothing more than a killing factory! If I had left a pet there thinking s/he would have a good chance of adoption and found out what’s really going on, I’d be beyond furious. Is there an investigative reporter who has the guts to tell the truth?


  14. This ie so painful to watch. This needs new staff and shelter director now!! Please support the no kill advocates trying to bring change.

  15. Where is the meeting on April 13, 2011 about Memphis Animal “Shelter” going to be? I don’t live near there, but my cousin lives in Memphis. She cares about animals but often is too overwhelmed by the problem to take much action. I’ll try to get her to go. My prayers are with you and those pets.

    1. All meetings are held on Wednesday evenings at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library located at 3030 Poplar Avenue, 38111 in meeting room A from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM.

      The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 13.

  16. One thing to add. Channel 24, Eyewitness News is the ONLY station in Memphis to bring every single thing the shelter is doing wrong out to the public.

    The more comments the stories receive, the more stories they are allowed to do.

    So, sign up and leave comments. It helps!

    1. I am going send them an e-mail right now requesting their presence at the meeting on 4/13…I think that will help turn the heat up on this on-going issue at MAS. I have followed the story mainly through here on YB, but when I read news articles about it they all seem to be coming forth from Channel 24. Sounds like this is something they plan on sinking their teeth into, until they see change come about. Maybe they can promote the meeting in addition to being present and documenting the requests that are made – and being able to follow up to see that the changes are taking place.

      I think NOW is the time to begin requesting the removal of Pepper from his position, and to find a suitable replacement for his position. Egads this is getting deep in here. Good news is that I thought Ms. Coleman was a part of the problem and it seems that now I see she is REALLY trying to implement changes within the shelter and Pepper is the one stopping those changes from taking place! He needs to be removed immediately…I’m sure there are plenty of animal loving people that can take over and rely on the No Kill Advocancy Center to help them turn this place into a No Kill shelter – they have the budget and with a new building coming they would be prime candidates.

      Hell – they are paying staff over $1 million a year to NOT do their jobs, so maybe a nice good shake up is in order – slash the staff, rely more on volunteers and there will be more moeny in the budget to fix the problems!

      1. Erica- Great ideas! I hope the media presence is outstanding next Wednesday! Yes, Jeni Diprizio from WPTY 24 has done an incredible job covering MAS – I hope she continues to uncover more and more to help get Pepper removed! I feel certain that if it were a non-kill shelter they would have a tremendous amoumt of volunteers. Heck, the Memphis Humane Society has so many people help them b/c it is a HUMANE place – it feels good to be there- unlike MAS – some of the volunteers feel it is a hopeless situation- and then they have to answer to some creepy, grumpy volunteers who really don’t have the animals best interest at heart. They are so far up Pepper’s you-know-what, they wouldn’t know the truth if it him them in the face. We need change- we need to clean house of the thugs and compassionless (word?) people working there!

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