Note: I’ll be adding to this post if new information comes in during the day.
Several dozen animal advocates attended the Memphis Animal Services advisory board public meeting last night to speak up for the homeless pets of Memphis. From a local TV news report:
[Shelter director Matthew] Pepper said 127 animals were affected in the distemper outbreak.
I assume “affected” means killed without any pleas to the public to save them. So now we are up to 127. Noted.
There are a few videos from the meeting on YouTube, courtesy of Meows and BowWows. The first one is of John Cox addressing the meeting. Mr. Cox is a recent appointee to the advisory board and apparently worked at MAS at the time it was raided in 2009. In Part 1, Mr. Cox states he has 5 dogs, some of whom were tied to the wall in the kill room at the time he saved them. He also talks about work ethics and character:
The actual work of euthanasia does not build my character but if I practice it in a humane and compassionate way, it reveals my character. You see?
No, I don’t see. Because thousands of pets at MAS are not being “euthanized” – they are being killed. And there is no compassion in killing. Although I would agree that killing pets does reveal something about character.
In Part 2, he posits that distemper blooms every spring and mass killing follows. It’s just a part of nature. Ah, like a cool breeze gently rustling the forsythia from her winter’s slumber.
He also plays heavily on the theme that the shelter needs cheerleaders (and we need you to ride the horse with the new brand and everyone pull on the same end of the rope with us, blah) and it’s the irresponsible public who are the real bad guys.
The issue is not that the shelter acted improperly. The issue is that a lot of dog owners are just not playing by the rules.
*sounds buzzer* I’m sorry Mr. Cox but thanks for playing. We’ll have a nice consolation prize for you on your way out.
The issue is that the shelter acted improperly. Over 100 dogs were killed without ever making a plea to the public for assistance with quarantine. Further, best practices for disease prevention were not implemented in order to decrease the chance of an outbreak or at least lessen its severity. The risks were identified months in advance, the vet asked the shelter to get its act together to control the spread of disease and nothing was done.
The shelter is not playing by the rules. If shelter leaders want the pet owning public to play by the rules, they might consider leading by example.
Mr. Cox also mocks the concept of privatizing the shelter as a “mythical dream”. I think he needs a monument depicting the golden fist of Memphis crushing a private animal shelter. It’s always good to make speeches in front of a monument, don’t you think?
In this clip, an attendee asks Mr. Pepper if he came to work on the day the mass killing for distemper started and receives this answer:
That Saturday, no I was not there. I was at home with my three kids and my wife… wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean it is not important to me. It doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely important to me. I somewhat find that question insulting because I am there quite a bit.
Look, he’s there other times – for instance, when there’s not a mass killing for distemper going on – isn’t that enough for you people? Shame on you taxpayers for questioning your public servants. I should expel you from the city for even asking but if you go away right now and promise to never bother me again, I’ll let it go – this time.
Finally, here is a transcript of an exchange that took place between Mr. Pepper and some of the advisory board members regarding the shelter’s practice of using sedatives on only some pets before killing:
Matthew Pepper: They have sedatives if (if) the dog is (is is) a … if they feel the animal needs it.Jackie Johns: Is that something we can also raise money for?Matthew Pepper: [unintelligible]Cindy Sanders: Can we get to the point where they are using the sedative?Matthew Pepper: [unintelligible]Cindy Sanders: …We were thinking it might be a little more humane to use it on all the animals that are going in instead of just…(clapping). And that would be something else we would be more than happy to raise money for.Jackie Johns: RightSteven Tower, DVM : When I was on the task force, I went out there December two years ago, and witnessed a gentlemen performing the euthanasia’s and they were technically performing in the manner in which it should be done. It wasn’t an easy thing to see. The room was sort of inadequate and I really look forward to getting into the new shelter for a number of reasons and that’s one reason. And they did use tranquilizers in cases where they needed to tranquilize an animal that was being fractious or wasn’t…Jackie Johns: Wouldn’t it just be nice, everyone would like to think that you know because when you take your dog to a vet they give them a sedative first…Cindy Sanders: I mean, you know even when you have surgery they give you a pre-op sedative before they get in there and do their thing and I hate to think that an animal has to be to the point where it is, you know struggling and fighting, for them to go you know we need to give this one a shot. So, if that’s something that could be done, we would happily raise money for that also.Matthew Pepper: I have no issue… I would like to at least consult our veterinary medical director as well…
Thank you Ona Cooper for sending in this transcript.
Added: Another local news piece on the meeting (it’s a video report and I haven’t watched it yet).