An Open Letter to MAS

A big, beautiful dog looks out his kennel at MAS on April 2, 2011.

Dear Memphis Animal Services,

Please show us the faces of the hundreds of healthy/treatable pets currently being kept hidden from the public – the ones not posted online and never given any chance for adoption or rescue because you won’t tell anyone they are there.  Tell us a little about them.  What are their names?  How old do you think they are?  What breed(s) might they be?  Are they male or female?  Have they been neutered, vaccinated and tested for heartworms?  Do they have any special needs that you know of?

If you will send me pictures of dogs and cats that the public currently has no access to, I will post them on the blog.  If you send me one, I’ll post it.  If you send me 250, I will post every last one of them.  Let the online community of animal advocates go to work crossposting these pets.  You never know, maybe we could save one.  Or 250.

Will you allow these pets the chance to be adopted or rescued instead of keeping them behind locked doors where 3 out of 4 of them end up in your kill room?  Will you let the public help?  Please?

Or if you don’t want to send me the pictures and info to post, will you do it yourself on PetHarbor or another publicly accessible website?  We care.  We want to know about the hundreds of pets you have in your shelter on any given day.  We’d like to help.  Will you give us a way to help save the pets in your shelter?

A few hours after the previous shot was taken, the big dog was gone. We never knew his name, or the names of any of the other strays at MAS.

16 thoughts on “An Open Letter to MAS

  1. Shirley, I just want to say thank you from all of us who care about the senseless killing of healthy, adoptable pets.

    Your dedication to this issue took time and serious sacrifice, and I can’t imagine the emotional toll that it’s taken.

    To everyone who has been monitoring these webcams and capturing screenshots with which to document these problems day in, day out, my deepest gratitude. I tried very hard to participate and I don’t consider myself easy to rattle but I was just overwhelmed – by the amount of information and by the continued disgraceful behaviour I witnessed.

    To the MAS – All I ask is that you do the right thing. At this point, I don’t even care about what has gone on so far. Today, tomorrow, next week – you need to stand up and say enough is enough. This is unacceptable, and needs to end. Are things going to be perfect overnight? No. And we don’t expect them to be. But we want to see some effort, and so far, we’ve been sorely disappointed.

    These people are not after you to cause you trouble. They really are not. They are trying to speak for the animals in your care who, at this point, have no effective advocate. These animals are suffering, being mishandled and killed without cause. We can’t allow this to continue unchallenged.

    But it doesn’t have to be a two-sided situation. The offer Shirley has extended you here is one more valuable than you realize, I’m sure. Hundreds of rescuers read this blog, and we are ALL extremely capable networkers. Just start with an hour. One hour a day to snap some digital photos and collect minimal information on as many dogs as possible, and then forward that information to Shirley. See what happens. You may discover that a few hours a day allocated to this task reaps you incredible benefits.

    At this point, sir… what do you have to lose?

    1. This.

      This is what I would say but you said so much more eloquently. Thank you.

  2. what is so hard about what you propose..NOTHING.. this place is not a “shelter”.. it is a killing ground.. anyway to get the press to pick up on this.. can we call write fax email picket SCREAM
    Does Matthew Pepper have a soul.. how does he sleep at night

  3. FYI: This a response to a letter I sent earlier today. What do you think I can do to help get more attention?

    Dear Ms. Stevens,
    Thank you for writing.
    I can assure you the three members of the Board you have listed (Allen, Jackie, and I) are coming from the exact same place and agree with your statements.
    I have heard from many on the No Kill and Yes Biscuit sites and am explaining a little about the three of us.

    I am the Chair of the MAS Advisory Board and can completely assure you several members of the Board have steadfastly brought every single issue you have stated to the MAS Administrator, the Mayor, the City Council and the Director and Deputy Director of the Division.
    Every single month we (well three of us, Jackie, Allen and I) arrive at the meeting with documentation regarding the kill rate, the fact the MAS Administrator fails to allow ALL animals the opportunity to be adopted, the bullying tactics of some of the volunteers, demands for the owner surrender form to tell the owner what is going to happen to their pet. We have brought this all to the public through news broadcasts, meetings, animal cruelty seminars (Jackie and I are former federal officers), telecast panel programs and seminars given to various citizen groups and schools. It took the Board three years to get the City to enable MAS to accept credit cards, many times when based on cash only to reclaim an animal, the owner returned the next day to find the animal had been euthanized. It took us 7 months to get MAS to use petfinder, and even that is a poor site, with few dogs shown, out of date photos and no cats listed.

    Jackie and I also personally conduct a court watch to report on the animal cruelty cases in our city and county. Through this we also document the behavior and improper charging by the animal officers…to the point where I was sued by a shelter worker for telling the way it actually is on the TV and newspaper.
    As part of our court watch we see the cases regarding those charged under the s/n law. All must appear before a judge and any can opt out of s/n.

    The Board is the ONLY entity that consistently brings the concerns forward. The kill rate is horrendous, the smoke screens placed by the City Administration are quite believable for those not in the “know”.

    We welcome the outcry from across the country and around the world. Hopefully the spotlight will help.

    I thank you very much for writing. For taking the time to care.
    Cindy Sanders

    1. Yep, same letter I got in response to the mass mailing that I sent out. Frustrating, isn’t it?

  4. DB- NO! You have it all wrong! Cindy is on YOUR side….I bet , because of her position as Board Chair, there are some things she is not at liberty to tell you. Cindy, Jackie, and Allen work so very hard to try to make changes at MAS. Unfortunately, they can’t do it alone- they need us- me, you, and all of the other wonderful supporters to continue to pressure the mayor and others. I have met Cindy a few times and please, trust me, her letter was from the heart- if you have specific questions, send her an e-mail, stating those. I am not kidding, we WANT her on “our side” – she knows her business better than anyone- knows the laws, knows when to sit back and when to pounce…It is the mayor and Janet Hooks who ultimately, makes the decision on what to do with Matt Pepper and his dispicable employees. Most of us, here in Memphis, are absolutely disgusted, day in and day out- watching the webcams- seeing the inhumane treatment of the animals…watching the dogs taken from their kennels- knowing they will never see the light of day b/c they are headed to the kill room. Please, keep putting pressure on the idiots in charge! Thank you

    1. I DO understand that Cindy and the other two board members are some of the good guys. My comment about frustration was meant for them to be trying so hard to do something for the animals and running into brick walls at every turn. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression.

  5. I sent an email to Cindy and got this response:

    Dear ___, thanks for writing. I have tried to respond to every single letter that has been sent to the Mayor, Director, etc. You know Jackie and I attend the cruelty and animals cases in Memphis and Shelby County and that keeps both of us very busy. I composed an email stating how much we care (including Allen) and how frustrated we are also. I would not be able to keep up with my cruelty cases if I responded to every person, so I copy and paste.
    I know that the Mayor, the Director, the Administrator, the Deputy Director and the Council are not answering the letters and I feel that anyone who takes the time to write, deserves a response.
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain. Ask everyone to keep the letters coming. I am keeping a copy of every email in a binder for presentation to various in the community.
    Thank you.

    1. OMG people – we’re going in a binder! Everybody use your spellcheck!

      This makes me want to write more letters. I want to earn my own tab in the binder.

  6. Tammy Says:

    May 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm
    What do you think I can do to help get more attention?

    I know it’s disappointing to write to someone with concerns about serious issues and be ignored. But this is typical in any type of social justice movement. The powers that be will ignore you at first and hope that you’ll get discouraged and go away. The best thing any of us out of town people can do at this point is to keep writing. Let them know we’re not going away. They don’t have to be long letters, you could simply ask a question like, “What happened to the garbage can family?”. Let’s see if they have any other tools in the toolbox besides IGNORE. And share the mailing list with your compassionate friends and ask them to write too.

    For those in Memphis, please attend the monthly advisory board meetings. You do not have to stand up and speak, but you can if you wish. The next meeting is Wednesday, May 11.

    1. Okay, here’s an idea: set up a mail group with the MAS contacts provided here. Send them a little reminder email each day. I think that’s what I’m going to do. Maybe if they get enough of us contacting them on a regular basis, they will realize we’re not going away and will make some changes.

  7. Just so you guys know, that looks like Cedy the Akita, who did make it on to petfinder and she was heartworm positive. I was attempting to allow my mom to foster her. Thanks to Friends of MAS she got adopted by someone and found a home. -I stalk Akitas religiously on Petfinder-

    I know that isn’t much given how many dogs are needlessly killed, but at least one made it… :(

    1. One dog safe in a new home is better than the alternative. Bless your heart! And thank you to the family who took this mama dog in.

  8. For those living in the Memphis area, please come to the Memphis Animal Shelter Advisory Board meeting on Wed. May 11 at 6 PM. Open to the public. Location: Benjamin Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN, Conference Room A, main floor. Meet first hand the five board members, three who do an outstanding job. The two newest members are vet, Dr. Stephen Tower and John Cox, former animal control officer for MAS.

  9. I do not and can not understand why these types of shelters do not want to give these animals the best chance of adoption? It boggles my mind! Why some shelters only adopt to rescues others like MAS seem like they just want to hold them untill they can kill them?!?

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