Mayor Wharton Sort of Weighs in on MAS Concerns

I have written to Memphis city leaders expressing my general concerns over the abuse and needless killing at the shelter.  I have written separately to advise of the abuse of a cat in labor at MAS, to question if dogs and cats are made to watch other pets being killed, and to inquire where dogs on the kill list are being stashed so that workers can avoid being seen dragging them to the kill room on the webcams.

Aside from a couple of replies from members of the shelter advisory board, I haven’t received any responses.  Nothing from the mayor, the shelter director, the division director or anyone else empowered to effect meaningful change.  If city leaders care nothing about the abuse and needless killing of shelter pets, don’t they at least care that thousands of people are condemning their city for its cruelty and vowing not to spend money there until real reform is enacted?  Do city leaders care about anything in Memphis at all?

Wait a minute – hold everything.  This just in from Mayor Wharton, in response to someone posting the Scars of Your Love video on his Facebook page:

There are babies dying and gang shootings and jobs-jobs-jobs so STFU about the pets at the shelter bitchez!  Because we can’t be concerned about the abuse and killing of shelter pets AND other stuff at the same time.  That’s crazy talk.

Also:  MSN will fix things (it won’t), a new building will fix things (because shiny floors transform lives!) and the irresponsible public, blah blah.

The number of animals put down is an issue.  Right.  Especially for the thousands being needlessly killed every year.  You could call it a major issue for them.

For those of you not concerned with elections, poll numbers and empty promises, please join us in taking action.

Memphis area residents:  The next meeting of the shelter advisory board is Wednesday, May 11 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at the Benjamin Hooks Library (3030 Poplar) in Conference Room A.  The meeting is open to the public and if you wish, you may address the board.

Everyone:  Please join our letter writing campaign.

No matter where you live, you can make your concerns about the shelter known to the following individuals:

Mayor Wharton:
Janet Hooks, Director, Public Services and Neighborhoods:
Matthew Pepper, Director, Memphis Animal Services:
MAS Board:
Cindy Sanders, MAS Advisory Board
Jackie Johns, MAS Advisory Board
Allen Iskiwitz, MAS Advisory Board

City Council

Bill Boyd

Bill Morrison

Myron Lowery

Janis Fullilove

Barbara Swearengen Ware

Harold Collins

Wanda Halbert

Joe Brown

Shea Flinn

Kemp Conrad

Edmund Ford Jr.

Reid Hedgepeth

Jim Strickland

A copy/paste collection of the e-mail addresses:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Keep your letters succinct and respectful. Let the city leaders know that people from all over are condemning what is going on at MAS and refuse to spend their vacation dollars in a city which tries to sweep cruelty under the rug.  Remind them there is a viable alternative:  make Memphis a no kill community.  Include a link to this primer on no kill.

Please use your voice to speak for all the pets at MAS – living and dead.  If you’ve already written – thank you.  If you are concerned that city leaders have done nothing to effect change – write again.  Let them know we are still watching and still horrified.  Share this info with the many caring pet owners you know so that they can write letters too.  If you need bullet points for possible items to include in a letter, here you go:

Summary of Concerns at Memphis Animal Services

  • The killing of pets who are not medically hopeless and suffering nor have they been declared a danger to society by a qualified party.
  • The killing of pets when there are empty cages at the shelter.
  • The killing of pets who have never been made available to the public for adoption, rescue or foster.
  • The killing of pets due to disease outbreak without ever making a public plea for help with quarantine to save lives.
  • Failure of the shelter to vaccinate all incoming pets as per standard disease prevention protocol.
  • Failure of the shelter to remove dogs and food from cages during cleaning as per standard disease prevention protocol.
  • Failure of the shelter to utilize their Chameleon software to interface with PetHarbor so that every pet is viewable online by the public.
  • Failure of the shelter to properly train and/or enforce humane handling of pets by the staff.
  • Failure of the shelter to implement a TNR program so that the number of feral cats in the community can be reduced over time.
  • Failure of the shelter to keep cats separated from the sight, sound and smell of dogs in order to reduce stress and make the population less susceptible to disease.
  • Failure of the shelter to provide daily aerobic exercise for dogs for social stimulation and in order to reduce stress and make the population less susceptible to disease.
  • The attempt to subvert the mayor’s intent of transparency by placing dogs on the kill list out of sight of the webcams and avoiding the normal, previously used routes to take them to the kill room so the public can not see how they are handled.

41 thoughts on “Mayor Wharton Sort of Weighs in on MAS Concerns

  1. He cannot be actually looking at the camera footage. None of the behavior shown has anything to do with ‘spay and neuter’ or ‘irresponsible owners’. And it doesn’t matter how shiny and new a building is when the people INSIDE IT are dragging animals around, hosing down dogs in their cages, letting loose animals roam freely, etc.

    Talk about a man completely divorced from reality!

    1. I actually thought Mayor Wharton was a smart man- his facebook comments have to be one of the DUMBEST posts ever- he is delusional! This continuous blaming of the public is getting old- how about holding Matt Pepper and his thug employees accountable?!

  2. Comment: Dying, gang shooting, JOBS, jobs, jobs
    people need to get off there ass and get a JOB so
    poor innocent people are not beat for 20.00, and please don’t say “no jobs out there” McDonalds needs
    help everyday. So you start out small and work ur way up….as far as the animals they don’t ask to be
    born, They are put in a shelter “for Protection”
    not to have some idiots beat, drag, pull what ever until they are killed…ya it is a big issue…….

  3. The sad thing here is this is one of those “issues” that can be fixed. Contact nationwide groups that will help replace the shelter staff and director who will implement life saving programs. Why would you say you basically have no heart. Since I don’t live in the area-will write and will share.

  4. we can’t care too much about animals, because of the human babies…

    That kind of b.s. is one of my very most hatreds…

    1. How do you get to be the mayor if you can’t concentrate on multiple tasks simultaneously? If the guy in charge of running the city is too pre-occupied to address the abuse and needless killing at his shelter, who do we contact? Is there like, a MayorPlus?

    2. he needs to first euth gange members, which means less money needed for prisons find caring people to run the shelter and birth control for the ones who cant aford another mouth to feed

  5. Sounds to me like he’s one of the “they’re only animals” camp! Must be a whole bunch of those guys in the Memphis area.

    Why do people insist, time after time, that we cannot care for people and animals at the same time? Why do some folks think we have to make a choice?

    Get off your lazy butt, Mayor, and make some changes that might draw people to your city. Deal with the problems and make a difference. And I agree that a new shelter building (with the same old attitudes and personnel) and MSN (although low cost spay/neuter and vaccination clinics would probably help) will not make a difference for these poor unfortunate animals who have the misfortune to end up at MAS.

  6. I recommend also writing to the mayor via snailmail here –

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

    Please keep it short – just a little something like “mandatory spay/neuter doesn’t work, it increases shelter intakes and criminalizes the poor people” and “The answer to ‘the irresponsible public’ is education and access to services. Put programs in place for low cost/free vaccinations and spay/neuter and you’ll have people lining up around the block to do the right thing AND you’ll look good in the eyes of the voters.”

    Write a couple of letters to break it up for him – one about mandatory s/n and how it has never worked to reduce shelter intakes anywhere it’s been tried. One letter regarding the abuses by PAID STAFF at the shelter. One letter about how Matthew Pepper is so busy blaming “the irresponsible public” for MAS’s problems and not implementing procedures that would increase adoptions and decrease intakes and killing.

    Mayor Wharton is a busy man, so let’s make each letter a bullet point for him and maybe that’ll help get the information across. Because right now, it seems like he’s listening to Matt Pepper who likes to point fingers, but can’t be bothered to lift them to change a damn thing.

  7. the sad part is, if you look at his Bio… he once thought of becoming a Vet. With his lack of caring for animals I guess it’s a good thing he didn’t persue that career. Sounds like “Mayor” wasn’t a good choice for him either.

  8. Ok, now its WAR. That’s it. Nothing else to be done, he has played his card, now we know where he is coming from, we should be able to take him down without firing a shot. Anyone know when his term is up, and if there are any candidates getting ready to run against him?

    1. Please Morgana let me know what you find out…
      I may be a thousand miles away, but I will make
      sure I do everything I can for these poor animals.

      1. I am in NY and hoping that someone who has any balls in Memphis will get me some info. But I can research it too, in between running the sanctuary and everything else I suppose. BTW EVERYONE: PETITION IS AT 3446 ON WAY TO 5000. send it out!

  9. Yes, well, Mr. Mayor, are you telling me that YOU ARE PAYING PEOPLE to kill babies and run drive-by shootings? Is that what the next comment about jobs means?

    Because if you are paying them to do that, and you think that’s a problem, I have a solution for you.

    Otherwise, mebbe you ought to concentrate on the what the people who the city is paying to do “something” are actually doing.

  10. This is my letter and a response from Ms. Hooks.

    Full ViewRe: MAS
    From: “Hooks, Director Janet” View Contact
    To: Morgana Washington
    Cc: AC Wharton ; George Little ; LaSonya Hall ; Matthew Pepper


    Ms. Washington,

    Let me assure you that the employees at the shelter are not “assiduously avoiding the webcams, skirting along the fringes” as you stated. We are committed to providing the best possible environment for the thousands of homeless, helpless animals that enter our doors. We constantly and consistently engage our partners to actively participate in the adoption and rescue of these unfortunate animals.

    Recently, we were awarded a grant from the PetCo foundation to assist us in providing affordable spay/neuter services to the community that will, hopefully and eventually, reduce the number of animals left helplessly on the streets of our city.

    Many positive changes have been made to the shelter over the last year and will continue to be implemented in the future.

    If you know of potential partners that would be willing to adopt, rescue or foster cats/dogs, please provide us their information so that we may contact them.

    We appreciate your concern and are interested in any constructive suggestions that you might be able to share with us.


    Janet Hooks
    Public Services and Neighborhoods

    On Apr 23, 2011, at 1:21 PM, “Morgana Washington” wrote:

    Dear Mayor Wharton et al.:
    As you know, many people around the USA and the World are watching your actions as pertains to MAS. We have seen in the past couple of days that workers are assiduously avoiding the webcams, skirting along the fringes of the cams’ focus, to avoid being visible to the taxpayers of Memphis. Can you please ask them to remain visible? There is no transparency OR sunshine now in your sunshine law – if things are to change, you must provide an objective eye to view what is wrong at MAS. If you now answer there is nothing wrong, then why all the sneaking around, pray? Come on Mr. Mayor, please don’t presume that the rest of us are that stupid! We know what’s going on there, even if we only get a “peek” now and then.

    If the MAS is not going to comply with staying in view of the webcams, then the world can only assume that they are continuing their killing spree. Is that what you want? MEMPHIS STOP THE KILLING NOW. Go NO KILL.

    Morgana Washington

  11. Mayor Wharton,
    Maybe more people would go to the shelter if it was run humanely!! There would probably be more volunteers and rescue groups there as well! No one wants to go to that dreaded place, knowing that hundreds of dogs are behind CLOSED doors that we, the public, cannot view. Only a few 20-30 can be selected in the adoption area up front. Why? because the city does not want us to see what does on behind closed doors!!! This policy was just put in place almost a year ago.

  12. I’ll tell you where they keep death row dogs. In the outdoor kennels. They drag them out with catch poles along the side of the building and around the back of the building then they enter the back of the building. Apparently, no cameras in any of those areas. They are out there in all this lovely weather storms, tornados etc. Mommas and newborns too!

    1. Leah,

      Surely Mr. Pepper would not allow any of this. It would be a waste of resources to move dogs outside, around the building and then back to the kill room solely for the purpose of avoiding being seen on the webcams. Further, it has been stated to us that the outdoor kennels are used for the dogs selected for adoption so that they (unlike most of the dogs in the shelter) do not have to stay in their kennels during cleaning and to give them fresh air. If the outdoor kennels were occupied by dogs on the kill list, that would make it impossible for the selected adoption dogs to get out, no? And lastly, especially considering the current severe weather, I suspect that Mr. Pepper would never allow bitches nursing their litters to live outside the shelter alongside dogs being dragged back and forth to the kill room. That just seems too cruel.

      Are you certain about this situation?

      1. At this point I would discount NOTHING…Pepper has proven he doesn’t care about the animals. He IS cruel. Otherwise he’d be putting the NoKill Equation into acton – he DID attend a conference after all.

  13. I am the Shelter Liaison for, a national pet adoption website dedicated exclusively to shelter dogs facing euthanasia. The save rate for dogs posted on the site by our partner shelter exceeds 80%.

    The Memphis Animal Shelter is already registered for this free and proven service but sadly has never taken the time to post any dogs. DogsInDanger will even provide volunteers to post the dogs’ photos and information on the site.

    I have shared this information with Mr. Pepper, animal shelter staff, the mayor, city council members and the MAS advisory board on multiple ocassions with no response.

    As unbelievable as this all is, I cannot get Mr. Pepper to return my email and include one simple word … “OKAY” so that the dogs can receive this unparalleled adoption exposure.

    I never give up and I certainly won’t give up on Memphis’ dogs. It would be helpful if all of you would send an email to everyone associated with the shelter (listed above in this blog post) and tell them that you want Memphis’ dogs posted on!!! It isn’t the perfect answer or solution to entirely end the needless killing there but it would be a significant start!

    1. I honestly can not fathom the hows and whys of this shelter director – and “Friends” – apparent aversion to posting all their pets on the internet. It doesn’t cost anything, it would save lives and it would make the shelter look better in the eyes of the public. Which one of those things is so awful?

    2. @ Jackie,
      I know someone on the Board and attend the Board meetings. She has written to you, as have several Board members. They brought the emails and read them at the meetings. In fact they have brought up DogsInDanger at least 6 times that I can remember. One Board member demanded to know why Pepper would not consider it.
      His comment at the last meeting where it was brought up again was that not everything was great with DID. When asked what that meant, a “Friend” of the shelter spoke up and said that DID had gone out of business. An advocate at the meeting sent an IM and found that this was not the truth. She announced the correct information and again the Board demanded to know why? Pepper did not answer.
      Pepper does not reach out because HE knows what is best to do for the animals.
      It is HIS way or the highway.
      unless you are an animal and then it is the garbage can.

  14. Since the people in power don’t seem to care about what is happening at this animal shelter are what people think about it, what about starting to contact people that might not want Memphis to become known as the city to avoid? Like maybe the big people in the local tourist industry, country music people, Elvis estates, etc? Let them know what the people from across the U.S. are seeing, feeling, and stating, sharing, and signing petitions about. How it is bound to start to effect their business, as the numbers grow.

  15. Since the city isn’t listening I say let’s take it up a notch and go to the STATE level. Maybe put some pressure on them from the Governor, etc. will get the ball rolling???

  16. I suggest start with Harold Ford, Jr.
    He ran last for Gov. and there is talk he will go against Wharton for Mayor. He should be casting a wide net for votes.
    Also send him the video.
    He will enjoy using the connection it makes between Herenton and Wharton.

  17. As much as I hate this, it really doesnt surprise me. Politicians want your vote but when it comes right down to it, they dont want to bother with your “pesky advice” and pretend like they have so much other stuff going on that they cant worry about it.
    On a sidenote, I really dont want to see MAS get a larger shelter. All they are going to do is kill more animals that way. I say shut the whole thing down entirely, the workers will never be able to work in any job that directly deals with the public (a job like ajanitor or something like that) and any dog that needs to come in will go to other shelters nearby or something.

    1. MAS is not getting a larger shelter. It is only a tad larger than the current shelter.
      The problem is not the size of the building, it is the mentality of those that work there.

      You can have a shelter as big as a football field and if you have a good staff, it could be a good thing.

      You can have a shelter the size of a matchbox and if you have a bad staff, it can make the killing at MAS look like small potatoes.

      We need the new shelter BUT we need a new staff to go with it.

      The size of a building does not determine the amount of animals killed.

      The mentality of the staff and the leadership does.

      1. I wasnt saying that it doesnt matter, if I thought that, I wouldnt be here. I was saying that if we have to keep the same crappy staff, we dont need a bigger building.

  18. Just got this…..



    On Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 11:30 PM, Claudia Bloom wrote:
    What goes on in your shelter is appalling. But of course, you can blame the “irresponsible public” for all your actions. Well guess what. Successful shelters all over the country with higher intake rates than yours are saving 90% of their animals. All it takes is a little bit of intelligence and an actual respect for animal lives. And it doesn’t involve mandatory spay neuter laws. Please read about the No Kill Equation and stop murdering the helpless.

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