This is What Cowards Do

You know how cockroaches scatter when a light is turned on?

When confronted with the exposure of their inhumane practices and needless killing, Memphis Animal Services staff could have stepped up, taken responsibility and worked toward reform.  I would have respected that.  Instead, they have opted to act like cowards and hide their wrongdoing.  This says to me that they know their actions are shameful and they don’t have the backbone to defend themselves.  So they go to plan B:  Hide.

This week, MAS workers stopped hauling pets to be killed where they can be clearly seen on the shelter webcams.  They are now using circuitous routes through the shelter to try and keep their abuse and killing on the down low, off the webcams.  Apparently they think the public is so stupid, no one will notice that the shelter’s kill numbers continue to rise as it maintains its disgraceful 77% kill rate.  And if we don’t see the inhumane treatment close-up, we’ll forget about it.

To clear up any misconceptions in that regard, I don’t forget.

Animal advocates everywhere are watching you Memphis.  And your chickenshit attempts to fool the public by hiding your crimes will not succeed.

You are officially on notice, cowards.

Images they are trying to hide:

"Trash" all piled up in front of the kill room at MAS on March 26, 2011
March 29: This dog is scared and does not want to be taken to the kill room.
March 29: Another dog too frightened to walk to the kill room.
Just hilarious.

77 thoughts on “This is What Cowards Do

  1. Shirley – I have been watching the webcams, and have been laughing (bitterly) as I see so-called humans skirting around the cameras. Looks like the place is closed down almost every day. The webcams, as I understand it, were put in precisely to catch the kind of behaviours we have been seeing. Now they are acting illegally by skirting around the cams. I may just have to go down to Memphis all by my onesy, and sit in on Pepper’s damned desk! That is, if nobody else is sitting there having a smoke! SOB’s.

    1. If you go, be sure and stop in front of the webcams so I can put you on the blog, heh.

      I have no experience running a shelter and don’t pretend to know for certain how I would behave BUT I’m thinking that if I did run a shelter, I would be proud to have webcams inside to reassure the public that the community’s pets were being cared for with compassion. And I would further guess that if I found out my staff was abusing the pets and avoiding the cameras to avoid being caught, I’d fire them.

      1. Think they’ll throw me into the Rabies Holding Section for a time??? Just to be sure, I mean. I’ll have to bring me some soap, so I can foam at the mouth.

      2. Morgana – make sure all your vaccinations, I mnea immunizations, are up to date prior to going – otherwise you might end up in the kill room if you sneeze!

      3. Erica – you kill me. While Pepper kills them. I will be certain I sneeze and drool, as well as foam at the mouth. Let’s see if I need sedation before the blue juice. lol. Anyway, I thought you were coming along?

      4. Yep – me AND my bricks…..maybe I’ll even bring my electronic cigarette and REALLY have a smoke break on his desk too!

  2. This behavior is exactly what I expected, albeit slightly different than my prediction that MAS would turn off the webcams. Mr. Pepper claims to be aiming for transparency, when the reality becomes more opaque daily. What a sad facility.

    1. I’m sure they have other tricks up their sleeve before they shut off the cameras. For example, they could do like PETA and get a van to kill pets in so no one sees then dump the bodies in the Piggly Wiggly dumpster.

  3. Yes, a sit in or some other kind of action that would attract the local media is needed. I wish there were people in Memphis that would consider doing this.

    I still can not believe that they just didn’t turn the cameras off.

    What is it going to take to get the people of Memphis to demand change?

    1. As long as the webcams are turned on, they are technically in compliance with the mayor’s sunshine policy. Unless the mayor decides to hand them all their asses on a platter, that is.

      1. Well, I doubt that he will. Willie Hennerton, er um, Wharton is a coward as well. So, if nobody in Memphis is going to roganize a protest, I guess us “outside agitators” will have to vie for that distinction, eh? Oh, and Shirley, I will be SURE to moon you on the webcam! lol.

  4. I suggest that we all write to the mayor at –

    Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
    City Hall
    125 N. Main St. Room 700
    Memphis, Tn 38103

    Instead of email. Emails are too easy to dismiss. Put a stamp on it and MAIL it.

    Be respectful, but firm. Tell him that you’re ashamed of how MAS is run, how cruelty is tolerated, and how it’s giving his city and HIM a bad name throughout the country.

    Let him know that you’re holding him responsible and that you expect action.

    1. I had emailed but agree, writing is best. We are watching him too, out here in New Zealand. The words “kill room” say it all!

  5. I, too, wondered how long before they would do something to hide the abuse and horror- but I thought they’d turn the webcams off. But I guess that would be way too obvious. Kinda like our mayor putting cameras in high-crime areas and then posting where they’re located. Most of the criminals just go where there aren’t cameras.
    Idiots running the world now, I guess . . .
    I will be writing a letter – snail mail – to the mayor. Working on the “respectful” part is going to be the hardest part.
    Happy Easter to all . . . and RIP and run free and whole and safe at the Rainbow Bridge to all the victims of this “shelter” and all the others who think their job is to kill, kill, kill.

  6. Turn the cameras off? The High-KIll shelter here in Miami REMOVED the cameras altogether, yet another bad move made by the director.
    I can tell you what We did…We sent out a story to PRNewswire about the heart stick incident in our shelter. That got national attention, actually was the catalyst that fired up the public. Public pressure is the best tool in the box- use it wisely though.

  7. Youd think that with all the time they spend defending what they do and skirting around cameras and this and that, that they would, oh I dont know, do THEIR JOB!? Youre right Shirley, they are nothing but cowards. Not men at all.

  8. I am not surprised.
    Though the two employees do not seem to be bothered by the camearas at all. They must know nothing will happen to them.

  9. The last photo of the laughing employees is unbelievable. Do they laugh as they kill the animals?

  10. The two dogs in the middle pictures are actually being moved to the adoption hold area which is thru a door just the camera side of the sinks on the right. These are two terriers that are terrified who had been in the stray area on the middle row. They have come around greatly with work the last two days. If anyone wants a picture of them you can email me at They are a mother and daughter at best guess who both have tested positive for heartworms so they will be a special needs adoption. If anyone is interested in adopting them that would be fabulous. They obviously had never been on a leash before, but are making great progress. It would be fabulous if someone would give them a home together!

    1. Who do we e-mail to get a picture of the hundreds of dogs NOT selected for the adoption hallway at MAS? The hundreds at the shelter right now who are being given no chance to be seen by the public in person or online. The estimated 200 Pitbulls behind closed doors. Where can I see their pictures, find out about their personalities and hear about their heartworm tests?

      1. Please explain what “adoption hold” means and what are their ID #’s?

      1. You know that is a breach of etiquette when you jump right to the triple dog dare bypassing the highly effective double dog dare.

      2. Watch that soap poisoning Shirley – if you start foaming at the mouth you might end up in MAS’ kill room…..

        An you know as far as etiquette – as kids we ALWAYS jumped straight to a triple dog dare to show how serious we were! LOL

  11. How disgusting!!! Have they no humanity and compassion. If animals must be euthanized there is a humane way to do it and this is definitely not it. I am for a No Kill Nation!!!

  12. Two of the Board members stated at the last meeting that the shelter needs a camera in the killing room. They both asked if the new shelter would have a camera. Pepper did not know.
    I just bet he is making sure there will be one, lol.

  13. If there is nothing to hide, then why hide.
    You would think they would be proud to show that changes were made. If those two dogs were going to the adoption room, then they should show the pictures of them being up for adoption..Something smells fishy to me.

    1. Here is the situation:

      I have several readers who have sent me screengrabs off the webcams but there is one in particular who has been very dedicated to this effort. I’ll call that reader Anonymous. Everything that Anonymous has sent me has been right on the money. Recently, Anonymous told me the dogs being taken for killing were not being removed from any cages visible on the webcams (as per usual), nor were they being walked to the kill room via the usual routes (which are visible on the webcams). Some dogs were being taken away, not to be seen again, but not in site of the webcams. I watched the webcams myself this morning and verified that what Anonymous was telling me was indeed happening. Dogs are disappearing, out of site of the webcams, and occasionally dogs can be seen at the kill room door at the far end of the hall where it’s very hard to make out details. Anyone can see for themselves the shelter has many empty cages, as usual, and is still accepting incoming dogs. Shelter records will show how many pets have been killed today – and every day. All someone has to do is request them.

      My suspicion, based on what I saw this morning myself and what Anonymous has reported seeing on the webcams, is that they are storing the dogs on the kill list somewhere that is not visible on the webcams and then sneaking them in via some path that is not visible on the webcams except for if the camera happens to snap a shot at the moment they hit the kill room door at the far end of the hallway. That’s what I’ve included in this post.

      The reason this asshattery is such a pisser is that it is all extra effort put towards attempting to HIDE WRONGDOING. If the staff at MAS has so much creative talent and extra time on their hands, why can’t they put that toward IMPROVING the shelter? The attempt to cover up the inhumane treatment and the needless killing goes exactly against the reason the mayor put the webcams in place. They are basically telling the mayor to sod off and giving the public (who pay their salaries) the finger. Are they accountable to no one? And for me, anytime I see an attempt at a cover up, it makes me more suspicious. Therefore, I’m inclined to watch more, dig deeper, and see what else might be going on that they would go to all this trouble to try and hide.

      1. Its a disgrace. I am really sad I’m so far away. But pleased your onto it. Totally support digging deeper. Surely the Mayor cant continue to let these people continue with this, is there no one else that can do something?

      2. Annette,
        Thank you for caring from across the globe.

        Yes, there is someone besides the mayor who could put a stop to this: the people of Memphis. If fiscally responsible taxpayers who don’t want to see their money wasted on cruelty and killing join up with local business owners who don’t want their bottom line to suffer as a result of the boycott and they combine with people who want to save healthy/treatable pets in Memphis – well, that would be a force to be reckoned with. If they all showed up at the next shelter advisory board meeting on May 11 or staged a sit-in or a protest, I imagine they’d get results. The people have the power. The question is, will they use it?

  14. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . .
    I’m not at all convinced they are doing anything but trying to cover their asses!

  15. The top pictures are not the hallway back to the euthanasia room but is the hallway in the stray area where the puppies are kept. If they are being walked down this hallway it is to go to the adoption area or to the outside kennels. It would be great if the correct information was posted instead of just assuming every dog being walked down a hallway is going to be euthanized. The 2 dogs being walked down the hallway in the middle pictures are up for adoption. So I guess that blows the hallway of death theory out of the water huh?

    1. No it doesn’t blow the hallway of death theory. There is a 77% chance those animals are going to the kill room one way or the other. What are the ID #’s of the two dogs in the middle pictures?

    2. Linda, Unless MAS has suddenly gone no kill, every hallway in the place is a hallway of death. No one assumes EVERY dog in the place will be killed. Just 77% of them.

      Open offer to Linda or anyone else: Obtain a copy of the kill log from yesterday. I’ll post it.

      And I ask the same question of you as I did of Jeanne: Can you tell us what happened to every dog in the photos? If they are all up for adoption, it should be easy to find out since there are so few dogs chosen for the adoption hallway.

  16. Linda, how do you know this shelter, and why does a picture show a man carring a dog by the skin on his back like a sack of potatoes? That is hardly humane. Where is this man taking this poor dog, plus in the very front another man is also carrying a dog. Why are the cameras not on the kill room.


    This is the same man who was hauling that poor dog off to the kill room by his back. It angers me that he is laughing it up, secure in the fact that he is still employed after his deplorable and reprehensible actions with that poor animal. That alone makes me want to call for Matthew Peppers resignation. How can he allow an abuser to continue to have access to animals? This is what they call “dealing with the situation” people. I suggest we be there at the meeting in May and fill that room and out into the halls and the street if necessary, and demand action be taken toward this employee, or he should tender his resignation!!! Laura is pissed!!

    Laura Waldie

    PS If anyone catches situations of abuse on the webcam, or has any stories about things they’ve encountered at MAS, please post them for me here: or message me on FB (Laura Hendrix Waldie). This is not a witch hunt or MAS bashing situation. I am fact gathering in an attempt to point out areas where there is trouble and can be improved. So I need specific instances, dates, etc.

  18. Where are the abuse photos. I would be interested to see what this shelter does/does not do. Because employees are laughing, as in the photo, does not mean they are laughing at killing animals. Seeing an animal on a leash is not abuse. I don`t know the reputation at this shelter but evidently it is suspicious enough that web cams were installed. Please keep in mind,if there are not enough people to adopt, then animals must be euthanized. 70% kill rate is not unusual in kill shelters. Unfortunate but true.

    1. Red,

      I have provided a link on the side of the blog for anyone who wants to peruse the previously posted shots.

      No one in Memphis can know “if there enough people to adopt” because the vast majority of pets at MAS are not offered to the public for adoption.

      Unadopted pets do not HAVE to be killed, as evidenced by the many no kill shelters all around the country.

      The kill rate at MAS is not 70% but 77%. This may seem a small difference to you but it amounts to a large number of dead pets as MAS takes in thousands every year.

      1. To Red: A worker carrying a dog by the skin on his back is inhumane. The dog is hanging in midair, and it must be painful. Why can’t he hold the dog properly. As a shelter worker in the No East, this would not be acceptable. There are muzzles if he is afraid the dog may bite.

    2. Red – besides the fact that MAS kills 77% of the animals intheir care – while you state that there are not enough people to adopt there are things called rescues and transports that can get those dogs out of MAS…IF ONLY THEY POSTED info on them!

    3. The man in the photo laughing it up, is the same man captured in the photo mishandling a dog. The photo has been dubbed “suitcase dog” by those who presented it at the last Advisory Board meeting. It ticks me off that this man who mishandled that poor animal (or any animal for that matter) is still allowed to work with animals, much less be happy and jovially doing so. He should be at the unemployment office looking for a new job.

    4. Also, to add to what everyone else has said about MAS, cleaning out the cages while the animals are still IN the cages is also a problem. Dogs come in healthy and okay behaviorally but then imagine being exposed to all of that stuff, contracting pneumonia and God only knows what else. Also, its been stated by rescue groups at MAS that they dont always allow rescue groups to let the dogs out for some reason, even though they are all fine, so perfectly fine dogs end up getting killed because MAS wont let the rescue groups do their job. There are so many problems inside of MAS with the workers, director, etc even besides the VERY high kill rate. It needs to stop!

  19. I`m sorry for my mistake of 7%..thanks for the correction. No kill shelters deserve all the accolades they get but being cage bound for months, or even years cannot be healthy for an animal. We have a no kill shelter here and some of the dogs are so territorial and defensive (teeth show and growling) of their “property” they will not allow you to approach their kennel. Not too conducive for adoption. Others are all over visitors with kisses and tag wags..and those are the ones adopted. One adoption a week is the average. The kill shelter (county contract) adopts out approx. 30 dogs a week but takes in twice that number. They have a good foster program in place and prison training of dogs but again, sadly there are not enough people to adopt the dogs/cats that are abandoned or left at the shelter to die.

    1. Red: I have worked at a sheler in the No East for over 15 yrs. Our kill rate is approximately 20%. Most of those are too sick, old or viscious. We work with Animal rescues, Breed Specific Rescues and even take in dogs from the south several times a year. We advertise dogs and cats for adoption in the newspapers (2), on Local cable TV and have pet adoption days at Pet Smart and Petco, plus another pet supply store. Our dogs are not kept in cages all day, but put in covered runs for the day. We have high school kids walk the dogs and keep them socialized. It is a community involvement. When a dog comes in, it is immediately put in a isolation area for a couple of days and given all shots. We conduct numerous fund raisers and have low cost spay and neuter programs and rabies clinics. Every day but Sun. & Mon. we are opened to the public. Purina and Science Diet provide gift packs for pets adopted. Several pet food stores donate their broken bags and dented cans which we give to someoe who askes because they are low on funds. We have vets willing to give discounts in exchange for advertising on our bulletin board. So much can be done, but we need someone at the top willing to makes this happen. If a new employee is hired, they are given orentation classes to help teach them the proper way to handle an animal. Kill rates can be reduced greatly but everyone must be dedicated to this.

    2. Transports & marketing….along with rescues AND caring, compassionate employees – they all have one thing in common: THEY SAVE LIVES. Instead of spewing forth the BS of HSUS and those who run shelters with high kill rates – you might want to invesitgate all options that are out there and see that it doesn’t HAVE to be this way. Yet, because no one wants to put forth ANY effort animals are being killed daily. Even while cages sit empty.

      As for the ‘laughing’ employees…I find it disrespectful to laugh while you are taking a dog to the kill room, especially while pulling it on a choke pole, dragging it on leash, or carrying it by the skin on its back. When an animal is on its way to the kill room – a compassionate person and kind, gentle touch does much to sooth an animal in fear.

  20. @ Red,
    No matter how you feel about carrying a dog by the skin on it’s back, it is against MAS policy.
    Dragging dogs on catch poles is also against policy, yet dozens of photos exist that show almost every animal moved is dragged on a pole. It is also against policy to drag a dog by a leash, yet again, photographic evidence.
    These employees remain on payroll today, just as they remained on payroll after the raid less than 2 years ago.

    This shelter was raided less than 2 years ago and there are still animals loosing weight there. 20-30 pounds on some dogs.

    Three weeks ago they performed a mass euthanization for an outbreak of distemper. True, many shelters if not all have periodic distemper outbreaks. But in this case emails were shown from the shelter vet demanding that proper cleaning and housing techniques be used. That the actions or lack of actions by the staff were directly leading to a major distemper outbreak. The emails were sent consistently for the two months leading to the mass euthanization.
    The vet kept asking the shelter director, the kennel supervisor and the operations manager what needed to be done to make the staff do what they were instructed to do.
    The vet’s warning were ignored and 127 dogs were killed, many not showing symptoms, just exposed to the disease.

    Yes, granted, two men laughing directly in front of the camera that captured the action of carrying a dog by the back with no support, does not indicate they laugh during the killings.
    But it does prove they laugh on the way to the killings.

    1. Many of the dogs killed because of the distemper outbreak could well have been immunized against distemper. If they were owner surrendered, did anyone check this out.

  21. Red: are you with the Friends? I would kindly suggest that you read Redemption and Irreconcilable Differences, both by Nathan Winograd, before touting the lazy way to go. Thanks.

    1. Also @Red: As stated by Erica, it doesn’t HAVE to be this way. Even the volunteers are afraid to speak up, for fear they will be banned from the shelter to pull animals – so not only is this “regime” under Pepper and ultimately Wharton abusive to the animals, it is holding its “regime” by instilling fear of retribution in its citizens, and thereby self-perptuating itself, and the abomination of unwonted killing!

  22. Hey guys. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. This stuff at MAS just keeps getting worse. So very sad.

    There is a great rescue group that I have fostered for and they need some financial help. If anyone would like to donate please feel free. They regularly pull dogs from MAS. I posted an article about Lisa, the founder of the group, she had a dog practically jerked out of her arms and dragged to the kill room.

    1. Kim: Can you – or Lisa – please relate the incident of which you speak – the dog being practially yanked out of her arms and off to the KILL ROOM for the rest of us? Does she have any idea why this was done? Was it “payback” for making a comment (read: persecution using the dog)? We would really like to know. Thanks.

      1. Thanks for reposting that article. It was a few years ago but as we all know things haven’t changed.

      2. Thanks for sharing the article…Amazing- 4 years later and nothing has changed! The story and the comments about other stories at MAS are really disturbing.

  23. Ok, I know this incident is almost 4 years old, but what’s with the muzzling of dogs be euthanized?????? Now I am REALLY freaking mad.

    1. For all we know they still do it. Wouldn’t want that big mean toy poodle to bite you while shoving a needle in it would you? Bunch of assholes!

      (I apologize Shirley, my language is normally not like his…but I am seething TODAY because of MAS. I just finished watching that video and looking through all these comments & am getting really angry.)

    2. Morgana, Muzzling dogs is actually better than tying belts around the their nose so tight they can hardly breath. I have seen pictures where this is done in some shelters. I dont know if MAS does because they don’t allow us to view the kill room.

      1. Tess45: I was a vet tech for 10 years, and am a wildlife rehabber for 20. I have NEVER heard of nor had to, muzzle a dog for a lethal injection. If they are THAT afraid of animals, they should just GET ANOTHER JOB. ussling of any kind only adds stress to the animal, esp. in its final moments when it smells the death in the room all around it. Shame on you for even suggesting such a thing is ‘normal’.

      2. Problem is that unless the dog is aggressive there should be NO REASON in the world to muzzle it, or try it’s muzzle shut with belts. There should be a policy against this. Period. If the person doing the euth is that afraid of dogs to the point that they have to do such drastic things – they need to find another line of work. While killing/euth on animals there shold be a vet tech, or comparable staffer in the room to assist – wouldn’t it be much calmer and less stress on the animal to be cuddled and held while going through the procedure? I mean, hell it’s bad enough we have multiple animals in the room watching the entire time – the very least they could do is show SOME compassion as they are killing the animals. Really – is it too much to ask?

  24. Slimy bastards were probably in a hurry to go to a b-b-q. I hope when their times come they will get no sympathy from the devil.

    1. Morgana: I have worked at a shelter for over 15 yrs. I have done rescue, rehab. also. I did NOT say to muzzle a dog and never saw this done. I only mentioned this as a better way than tying a dogs mouth shut with a belt, so they can’t even breath, as someone noted the MAS does. Only dogs that are terminally sick, showing signs of old age, such as severe arthritis, or too agressive are put down in my shelter. We frequently take in dogs from the south. I myself would NOT recommend a muzzle, so please reread my post. This is not about my experience no yours but about the cruel way the dogs are handled at MAS.

      1. apologies for misreading your post. It didn’t sound that wayom what you wrote. I understand that they are using those plastic blue slip-leads to tie the mouths shut. NOT muzzles per se.

      2. Morgana – are you referring to MAS using the slip leads to tie the mouths shut? That’s even WORSE than a muzzle – and actually serves NO purpose unless they are tying is tightly….this place is a friggin mess.

      3. Yes, Tessa, I was referring exactly to that. Based on the reports from 2007. Don’t know if they still do it, but regardless, as you say, IT SUCKS! MEMPHIS STOP THE KILLING!

  25. Why is the last picture suddenly from 8 days previous? Shouldn’t the date be in the caption like the other pictures?

    1. I don’t post screengrabs daily Trevor. When posting a group of shots, I often choose photos spanning several days. The dates/times are in each photo for everyone to see.

      1. I first thought it was a sequence and thought, “whoa”. Then I noticed the dates. Wouldn’t it make sense to post the range of photos sorted in order of date taken so people don’t make the same mistake I initially did?

        I wonder what they are laughing about.

      2. Trevor: I think they are laighing because the guy in front, our very own Frank Lightfoot, is likely carrying an animal behind his back and out of sight of the webcam. Just an opinion.

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