MAS: You are in a Hole. Quit Digging.

Memphis Animal Services hasn’t reached out to rescuers regarding dogs on the kill list in the past.  Now they are, which is great.  Except they seem intent on burning out their local rescues faster than rescuers can reach for their TUMS.

Yesterday MAS sent out an e-mail plea for 7 coughing dogs on the kill list, in addition to the two I had on the blog. The e-mail included basic info on each dog and gave rescuers 2 hours to respond. Miraculously, rescuers were able to get the job done and save all 9 of these dogs.

Today, another plea to rescuers, again with only hours to respond. This time: 34 coughing puppies and 1 fear biter, all to be killed if not rescued by 5pm. Unlike yesterday’s crappy e-mail though, this one didn’t have info on the dogs because there were “too many to describe” and they “probably” don’t have any photos either. So what rescuers got was a list of ID numbers and an age range of 2 – 4 months for the group as a whole.

I wrote to the shelter and asplained that this was no good. Breed rescues had no way of knowing if their breed was in need. Potential fosters didn’t know if they’d be taking on a 2 month old female Cockapoo or a 4 month old male Pitbull. And there was nothing to share or crosspost – just a list of ID numbers.  And worst of all, they would burn out their rescuers in short order by forcing them to remain in continual crisis mode.  I didn’t receive a response to that e-mail so I had a desperate idea and e-mailed again. If someone would simply hold a puppy with his cage card up to a webcam, I would sit at my computer and screengrab every one of them so there would at least be something to share. No response to that e-mail either.

I can’t help but mention the fact that this morning, all the workers left the new guy to clean the cat room by himself while they went outside in front of the lobby.  They hung out there for about a half-hour while the new guy worked.  When the place opened at 10am, there was garbage all over the few areas the public is allowed in and the cages weren’t finished being cleaned.  I’m wondering how many puppy pictures could have been taken by all those workers in that 30 minutes this morning.

But wait – there’s more!

A reader sent me this from the “Friends” FB page:

Christ on a bike.

Here is a sample photo of the puppies to be killed.  Your actual puppy may differ in size, shape, color, breed, length of coat, temperament or gender.  Please allow us to select for you.  Thank you for shopping the Puppy Death Channel.

So now it’s past 5 o’clock.  I don’t know if any of these 35 dogs were saved but it would shock the snot out of me if they were.

Oh yeah and tomorrow it’s Bring Your Dog to the Game Day at a local sporting event.  So the public will be bringing their pets to the park.  And “Friends” is promoting on their FB page that the shelter will be bringing a bunch of dogs there too.  Dogs from the shelter.  The shelter that has dozens of dogs so contagious that they can’t be allowed to live beyond a few hours.

Let’s unfurl the Blame the Irresponsible Public banner.  I think it’s going to be called on to work overtime.

45 thoughts on “MAS: You are in a Hole. Quit Digging.

  1. Wow, rescuers were able to save nine coughing shelter dogs in two hours. That is great! They must have a pretty good amount of pet rescuers in Memphis. I am luck if I can find a rescuer to save one purebred dog at my local shelter.

    I don’t understand why most shelters don’t send out calls for help to their local media. And why can’t they name all the pets? On petfinder you just click a button for a name, can’t that be done if not by the works then by volunteers?

  2. Wow. How does MAS suck so badly?

    The Mayor –

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

    The Governor –

    Office of Governor Bill Haslam
    1st Floor, State Capitol
    Nashville, TN 37243

    Let the Mayor know that you’re writing the Governor as well.

    Be brief, be succinct.

  3. Results of today from the dogs posted:

    Rescue helped with 5, 4 young puppies, 1 4 month old puppy

    public helped with: one adult dog, 22 puppies.

    A shelter employee helped everyone who came in before 5. Above are the end results.

    1. The irresponsible public, whom we are constantly hearing berated by the shelter, heard there were sick puppies in need of veterinary treatment and mobilized within a few short hours to rush down and take 22 of them, sight unseen, based on ID #s alone? What an interesting story.

      If this information is accurate, it will be a race to see who MAS burns out on the killing emergencies first – the public or rescuers.

      1. Irresponsible public and rescuers–thanks!
        Never doubted ya. Poor little ones that didn’t make it–I’m very very sorry. You were in a bad place, in the wrong hands. Hope you’re in a better place now. And if you ever come back (not sure how that works), hope you get to meet the irresponsible public instead.

  4. Fact is all those employees in the frontn yakking it up and out wittying each other have to go. Replace them with peoole who care about finding solutions and every will breathe easier, especially the animals. I am sick to death of hearing “we know what we are doing ma’am. Been in this field for 7 (or 10 or 20) years.”. Really? No wonder …

  5. I definitely think the people at MAS just enjoy playing head-games at this point: “yeah we’ll let you take these dogs off our hands for us…but you only have an hour or two to get down here and get them!”. They may as well stand there with a puppy and a syringe, twirling a mustache- its such a caricature. Oh and the “these dogs must go” attitude while also taking them to places the next day is just the icing on the cake (I can only hope that the dogs will run away and find a better place to stay, it shouldnt be too hard to find a place better than MAS).

    1. I honestly think they are just sadistic. As we can clearly see, they hate the animals. And now that they know how committed rescuers are, they will continue dropping bombs on us (us, as in, folks in that area) at the last minute, threatening the animals with death if we do not do X by Y date/time. And of course most of it would not be necessary in the first place if they actually did their jobs correctly. They are probably making the dogs sick on purpose just to get more opportunities to manipulate rescuers and kill animals. I hate them more than I can express. I don’t have a vacation planned this summer; although I’ve vowed to stay the hell away from Memphis until this is resolved, I would consider going down there in the case of a protest/sit-in.

      1. Completely agree Sarah. I’m starting to think this way too. Before I just thought they were really incompetent and well…dumb but now I think they just get off on torturing poor little animals. I feel bad for the rescue groups but incredibly grateful because they seem to be the only ones doing good over there. I really wish someone would stop people going in with animals to drop off and then when they have nothing to do, will wonder whats going on and think word is spreading but its probably just a pipe dream..

  6. If this place is as incompetent, uncaring, and non-proactive as portrayed here, I’m not sure why we would expect them to be great at working with rescues and networking their dogs right off the bat.

    We’re already burning ourselves out watching the webcams and writing letters…I’d rather burn ourselves out saving some of the dogs.

    At least it’s a start.

    1. It’s a trap. Do not get sucked into the “Save a few, kill the rest” mentality. ALL of them can and must be saved. It’s being done in other cities. It can be done in Memphis.

    2. There is no need to associate my comments with that “mindset”. I volunteer at an open-intake municipal shelter with an 8% kill rate, I know what can be done. If it’s a trap, there will be an excuse to stop the outreach to rescues soon enough. Cynicism is well and good and is what this shelter deserves. But greeting any sign of progress with criticism indicates that you don’t think your focus on MAS is ever going to have any effect.

      1. Thank you for volunteering Joel.

        I’m not at all trying to criticize what you describe as “any sign of progress”. In fact, I see it differently – in the long term. I want to see the shelter put into place the programs that will lead to success over time. Burning out rescuers and the public in short order will save a few but in the long run, there will be a setback IMO because the foundation for some of these programs to work will be dried up. I am trying to focus on the big picture and I consider the daily scramble to save a few and kill the rest to be small picture. By continual focusing on saving a few individual pets, we weaken the prospect for saving them all long term.

        I hope I explained myself better in this comment. I’m not a Negative Nancy, I swear!

      2. I agree, it is easy to get caught up in trying to save the dog that is right in front of you instead of focusing on the big picture that will help the dogs who are still years away from arriving at the shelter. Both need to happen.

        Even at the shelter where I volunteer and obviously have a great deal of success, it still can be very hectic and stressful on a day-to-day basis. There are things we could be doing better with a big picture focus, but there isn’t enough attention paid sometimes because we are doing well with the dogs that we get today.

  7. What a sorry excuse for an animal shelter MAS is. It sounds to me as if the whole staff needs to be replaced with, oh, maybe human beings!

  8. We got the e-mail about the 34 sick puppies at 12:49pm. Friends of MAS posted on their FB page that they had 2 urgent dogs and posted the pictures. After a while I figured out that they won’t be posting about the other 34 so I posted on their page part of the e-mail the rescues got with the puppy ID numbers.

    When various people complained that the shelter gave us so little time and wanted to ask for extended work hours for MAS or more time to get the puppies, all Friends kept posting was “call the shelter with your concerns”. Various people, including myself kept calling the shelter. Most of the time the phone just rang and no one picked up. I think I some people even got the after hours recording way before 5 pm. I was told Matthew Pepper was at an emergency meeting about the flooding we’re having here in Memphis. Fine, valid concern. What gets me is that Friends, who are actually at the shelter when all this goes on act like they’re on a different planet. Yes, I’m trying to call the shelter, but they are right there, can’t they comminicate the publics concerns?

    All in all I’m very happy that at least part of the puppies were saved. Two weeks ago, even that would not have been possible. I’m just afraid that tomorrow we’ll get an emergency e-mail that we have to rescue 100 puppies is 30 minutes or else…

    1. Friends had not heard about the 34 puppies until you posted.

      The best way to help FMAS is to start running it yourself since you seem to think you can do everything better.

      1. @ Christine,

        Great idea! Where do we sign up?
        Out with the old, the “friends” who were there before the raid and saw everything and said nothing and now are also saying nothing.

        And in with the new, friends who don’t place their agendas of power over what is best for the animals and ones who won’t drive to someone’s place of employment and try to get him fired because that person dared to criticize the shelter.

      2. Christine,
        I think you hit the nail on the head. In with the new and out with the old. Someone that truly cares about the animals (ALL OF THEM,not just the cute ones) would do a much better job. When people continue to witness these acts of abuse time and time again, they become numb to it. When you watch and do nothing, you are just as guilty!

      3. Ha. Yeah you’re so absolutely correct. Volunteers said nothing prior to the raid. Nothing so much that their emails with complaints and pictures of animal cruelty were used as evidence.

        And you are widely mistaken if you think the volunteers don’t voice their concerns/questions to shelter management. The difference between “yesbiscuit followers” is that they are not just typing away on their computers but getting their hands dirty on the webcams instead of watching them.

      4. Christine – There is need for all forms of advocacy. Not everyone has the ability to “get their hands dirty”. Some people want to donate money. We need those people. Others want to talk with shelter leaders and politicians to effect change. We need those people. And yes, some people want to act as watchdogs on the internet. We need those people too. Epic undertakings do not get accomplished by looking at the small picture and excluding people who want to help in ways that may be different from how you personally help.

      5. Thank you Villy for posting the 34 animals in need on the “friends” page. You saved them.

      6. The shelter’s only online presence – the one that is responsible for promoting the few lucky pets deemed “adoptable” – had not been informed by the shelter that they were planning to kill 34 puppies in a few hours until a fellow advocate posted it on their FB page? That sounds like a major communication breakdown. I hope that can be fixed immediately. Thank goodness the person spoke up and was allowed to post the info on the FB page.

      7. @ Christine
        I don’t live there, but otherwise I would be delighted to give it a try! I would at least treat the animals humanely (and make damn sure everyone else there did, too) and I would find a way to keep the place clean without hosing down dogs (and food) in runs and cages. And I would damn well be sure to not let animals simply die in their cages! I might not do it the way you’d like it done, but there would be a whole lot more happy, well cared for animals!
        I happen to do rescue where I live and know that it doesn’t have to be the way it is at MAS.
        We aren’t the bad guys here!

      8. Everyone, please–stop bashing the Friends! Haven’t you heard the news? Straight from today’s Commercial Appeal and the mouth of Friends’ own Jeanne Chancellor, “I can tell you if there was anything wrong here, some of us would be the first ones yelling, Chancellor said.” Read the article here–

        Everything is just fine at the shelter!
        Everything. is. fine. Got it?

      9. I am with Ethel- I know many of us that could definitely run FMAS better- actually, I think ANYONE would be an improvemnt over those unemotional, lacking compassion, power hungry “people.”

  9. I have a question for any Memphis rescue groups posting on here. In the animals that were posted as needing out of this shelter, how many did anyone on this page take? It looks like everyone could have taken at least one of the puppies posted above. I have a friend who does rescue who is always full, but under these conditions if she knew puppies were in this much need she would have made room for at least one more. I have kept a puppy for her she had to take in an emergency. I just wonder if every rescue could have helped one more would have been saved. I know here the rescue groups start calling for help with a puppy (which is how I got involved), or they sometimes put them in boarding until they can get them somewhere. I know here they have boarded dogs already in homes and taken a shelter puppy in that space. There are things the rescue groups could have done it appears to me. The numbers above don’t reflect a lot of rescue groups helping one puppy. Just my thoughts. I just found this blog thorough a posting on a friends’ page.

    1. I am not a Memphis rescuer and would not presume to speak for anyone else. But I just wanted to say that in general, rescuers can only rescue pets they know about and have sufficient time to make arrangements for. In this case, rescuers did not know anything about these puppies except their ID numbers and were given only a few hours notice.

      For example, it’s possible that, as you suggest, a local Collie rescue could have made room for one more Collie puppy. But they had no way of knowing if any of these ID #s were Collies, and they did not have sufficient time to find a spot for this one more pup. Perhaps the local Collie rescue contact works until 5pm and is unable to receive her e-mail until she gets home. This is just a fictional example in an effort to illustrate a point.

    2. AnneMarie – I do work with a local rescue and we mainly pull cats. Last week we pulled one more, then pulled one more, then pulled one more. The week before we pulled one more…12 times.

      I appreciate what you are saying. Please understand, if we always took one more then we would soon have to close the rescue. We are constantly asked to make a Sophie’s choice by Memphis but we have to provide for the ones we have. We rarely pull a cat from Memphis that does not have a URI or ringworm. That means extra vetting and at sometimes weeks of isolation before we can think about marketing the animal.

      We pulled over 100 cats last year and have the ability to do more than that this year.

      The list from yesterday was probably not any different than any other day. Only this time, it was published but not in a helpful way. Pictures and descriptions go a long way.

      Nothing will change at Memphis Animal Services until they hire caring staff and change their blame the public attitude. City by city and state by state, things are changing for the better for shelter animals. They will change in Memphis too.

  10. Anne Marie,
    I think a lot of rescues are full to overflowing and lacking in funds. As much as they would like to take that “just one more” it isn’t always possible. (I am not with a particular rescue, though, and don’t live in the Memphis area so I can’t speak for them. There just seem to be a lot of animals who need rescuing right now and with puppy and kitten season starting, it’s only going to get worse.)

  11. I am not with a rescue group. I am just an animal lover. I pulled 4 of the pups yesterday. 2 are neutered and 1 is spayed. Ranging from 5 weeks to 3 months. The one that is not altered I fell in love with and couldn’t leave her.
    If anyone with a rescue group or knowing anyone that wants to help me Foster I would appreciate it. 2 sound like they have kennel cough (which isn’t surprising). If distemper us the concern, let be say these guys are rambunctious and hungry.
    There’s one 3 month hound dog. He is awesome and I really hope I can find a great home for him.
    I’m appreciative that the “plea” went out yesterday. I also appreciated when I walked in that they took me back immediately. Now, what I don’t understand is that they have a “mobile adoption drive” today downtown at the baseball game. Estimated 3000 people attending. Also there is the Brake Street Music Fest bringing 100,000 more people 1 block away. Last night we had (I work downtown) nearly 110,000 people downtown. The weather is BEAUTIFUL! WHY WOULD YOU EUTHANIZE THESE ANIMALs? You cannot ask for more traffic!! I would put money on it that all the animals will be adopted AND more people will go to the shelter and adopt. The 3 I pulled had been altered with vaccines! That’s just a waste of money and time! REALLY MAS?

    1. Kim, these sick dogs would not have gone to the adoption event at the ball park. They all exhibited symptoms of an upper respiratory infection which is highly contagious to other dogs. To bring sick dogs into the ball park among the public who have brought their own dogs would have been irresponsible. And, by the way, the adoptions at the ballpark have been canceled due to the number of sick dogs we have had the past several days. Volunteers will still be there passing out general information and information on spay/neuter.

  12. Wow, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You’ve all complained that you were never notified of the dogs in need of rescue after the distemper outbreak and that those dogs could have been saved if you were given the opportunity. Now that FMAS has started posting urgent cases and sending emails you complain that you’re not given enough time and that your resources are being tapped out. We will never be able to make you happy.

    And to address the last part of the post regarding the event at the ballpark today…adoptions have been canceled at the event because it would be irresponsible of us to bring dogs to the event where there will be other dogs present seeing that there have been so many sick dogs at the shelter this week. Volunteers will still be there to answer questions and pass out information on spay/neuter.

    1. Not at all. Sending out a daily e-mail that in effect says “We’re going to kill a bunch of pets unless YOU GUYS take them within the next few hours” does not qualify as “do”. No one is being damned for “do” because it hasn’t been “done” yet. Is it really too much to ask that the shelter give a minimum of 48 hours notice to rescuers and *provide the pets’ photos and bios* (which is available on the Chameleon software)? I would consider that a “do”. What’s actually happening is something I call rescue abuse.

      1. So, now we are not only abusing animals but also rescuers…fabulous. The rescuers were notified of the situation as soon as FMAS found out. Regarding the Chameleon software…that is a shelter issue. The volunteers can’t make the employees use this software to it’s fullest capacity. We are doing the best with what we have. There is usually ONE volunteer who works during the week taking photos. She is one person and when there is an urgent situation like this past week then her energies are focused there. She simply wanted to get as many of those dogs out of the shelter as possible.

      2. Confusing. Another commenter said FMAS didn’t know about the situation until a rescuer posted it on their FB page. I have a feeling there would be lots more people willing to volunteer to take pictures and post info on pets if the “Friends” didn’t rule the shelter with an iron fist.

      3. Dana, I am thrilled that we have started receiving e-mails about animals in danger at MAS. Our rescue pulled a number of cats based on that info. I’m also thrilled that Friends is posting some of them on FB. What I’m not happy with is the 4-5 hour windows given to us to rescue these animals. I’m also not happy that I was the one who had to post them on Friends site and instead of going to investigate and find out more about the puppies all they keps saying was “call the shelter” where by the way no one picks up. A Friends representative was AT the shelter at that time. Why can’t she help?

  13. jeanne100 Says:
    April 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Results of today from the dogs posted:

    Rescue helped with 5, 4 young puppies, 1 4 month old puppy

    public helped with: one adult dog, 22 puppies.

    I received an e-mail today saying one man took 20 puppies from MAS yesterday afternoon. Is his name “Public” or…? Again, confusing.

    1. 20 pups? Do we know the breed and cost involved? Is he with a rescue? When I hear something like that it makes me think of dog fighting….especially when we don’t have all the specifics.

      1. Hopefully “public” means lotsa folks, not just one. That was a concern I had, too. Anybody have any more information?

      2. The only other info I have is in the form of a second e-mail pleading for help for the 20 pups. In summary, it says the man can not possibly medicate 20 sick pups on his own and they are out in the rain and assistance is needed. It doesn’t mention that he is with any particular rescue group or what breeds the pups are. There is mention of a rescue in NY being willing to take 10 of the pups if transport can be arranged.

  14. This is like a Catch-22 type situation. MAS is now posting urgents – so they are doing what we asked of them. BUT – they are doing it like a fire drill – no time to respond. So they can now say that they did reach out for help and no one answered. Chalk another one up to the irresponsible public not helping, right?

    If they aren’t giving rescuers enough time to respond then we continue to end up with the same results – dead animals. Only now Pepper cansay “we tried”….so friggin crazy!

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