How Much Sadder Can Sad Get?

This morning, I saw a dog on the webcam at MAS and felt horrified, heartbroken and motivated to help all at once.  I am posting the dog’s photo below but placing quite a bit of text before it so that it will not appear on anyone’s monitor unless they choose to scroll down.

Warning:  the image below is disturbing and may be too graphic for sensitive readers.

I want to make clear that little is known about this dog, including how he or she came to be in this state.  I have requested additional information on the dog but as of this posting, I haven’t received any.  I assume that the shelter will honor someone’s request (obviously not mine) for this dog’s records and once I receive the info, I will share it here.

In the interest of full disclosure, and because I want to share as much factual info as I have on this dog, I am posting below the e-mails exchanged among shelter director Matthew Pepper, La Sonya Hall and me today:

Subject: Dog I would Like to Help
From: <>
Date: Thu, June 02, 2011 8:14 am

I am attaching a photo of a dog in obvious need of immediate care.  I would like to help this dog.  If you would please give me any information you are able on him, I’d appreciate it.  I can raise money specifically for this dog’s vet care and in fact I already have some money donated by folks who want to help pets at MAS.  I can network with local rescuers to see if anyone can take the dog to a vet today.  Please just let me know if the dog is in need.  He appears that way but I know there may be more to the dog’s story than is evident in a photo (such as possibly an owner who is wanting to reclaim his lost dog).  If you can let me know how best to help this dog, I will begin efforts immediately.
I care about this dog and I know many of my readers will too once I share his story.  Please let me help him get the care he needs if he is not already receiving treatment.
Thank you,
Subject: Re: Dog I would Like to Help
From: <>
Date: Thu, June 02, 2011 8:47 am
To: <>
Cc: <>, <>,
<>, <>


This dog has been euthanised to prevent suffering. This dog was evaluated by a veterinarian and our Veterinary Medical Director identified the dog as being in advanced stages of emaciation, weak and in a deteriorated physical condition that exceeded our ability to treat. Dr. Rebecca Coleman is copied to this message.

If you have a particular interest in a dog please notify us of your interests we are happy to work with you but need some advanced notice of what you are seeking. We appreciate your willingness to work with us and hope you can help us with many more animals in the future. Is there something particular you are looking for?

Matt Pepper

Subject: RE: Dog I would Like to Help
From: <>
Date: Thu, June 02, 2011 9:11 am

Thank you for your response.
I honestly don’t know how I could let you know “in advance” if nobody can see the dogs in the stray kennels to know they need help?  This is a sincere question.  IF I could have seen this poor dog in the kennel, I would have e-mailed sooner.  But NOBODY could see him.  I e-mailed as soon as I saw him.
I am very sad about this dog.  I understand that he was beyond your vet’s ability to treat.  But surely another vet could have treated him, right?  But he never had a chance for that because he was not listed online nor was he visible to anyone.  How long did MAS have him?  Was he a cruelty case or a stray or…?
To answer your question, I am not looking for any pet in particular.  I saw this dog and was moved to try and help him.  Do you have another dog in need of help in your stray area?

Subject: RE: Dog I would Like to Help
Date: Thu, June 02, 2011 12:47 pm

I haven’t heard back from you and since obviously time is of the essence, I thought of a way to perhaps simplify things which hopefully will make it quick and easy for you to respond:

1. Please send me the records pertaining to the dog in the attached photo. This way you don’t have to research, summarize and type up the info in an e-mail to me.
2. Please send me a photo, if possible, and any information on the dog who is now living in the kennel that was left empty after the dog in the attached photo was killed. I will try to help whoever that dog is. If there is no dog in that kennel right now, then the dog to the right or left of that space will be fine too.

Thank you so much.



Subject: RE: Dog I would Like to Help
Date: Thu, June 02, 2011 3:24 pm


Your request falls under the Freedom of Information Act and should be directed to Senior Assistant City Attorney Jill Madajczyk. Ms. Madajczyk is copied on this message. In submitting your request, please provide Ms. Madajczyk proof of residency.

Have a splendid day!

La Sonya Harris Hall, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, Division of Public Services and Neighborhoods

125 N. Main Street, Suite 200

Memphis, TN 38103


_______________________END of e-mail messages____________________

The few pieces of information I believe to be factual about this dog are:

  • The dog was housed in the stray area at MAS.
  • Dogs housed in this area are not taken out for walks or removed from their kennels during cleaning.
  • The dog was extremely emaciated and in need of immediate veterinary care.
  • I was willing to help get care for this dog and knew that many of you would be too.
  • The dog was killed by MAS this morning, before my e-mail offer of help was sent.
  • The dog was never listed online by MAS nor was he housed in an area open to the public.
  • No one, outside of shelter staff, knew he was there.

I do not know if the dog had a microchip and/or a known owner, when the dog arrived at MAS, what his weight was at time of intake or any other pertinent information.  That’s why I’ve requested the records – to get answers to these questions.

My greatest fear, and this information is unknowable to anyone outside the shelter since the stray areas are off limits, is that there may be another pet in this condition in another stray kennel.  Or two.  Or more than two.  I don’t know and I’d really like to because this image brings up awful memories for all of us who have been following MAS since the raid in 2009 when we saw the shocking before and after photos of a beautiful puppy who starved to death in the shelter’s care.  I’m not saying that’s happening now.  I don’t know what’s happening now with the dogs in the stray area because they are hidden from view.  Unlike many other shelters, MAS does not post photos and descriptions of all its pets online.  Potential adopters looking for a dog are only allowed to see roughly 30 dogs, cherry-picked for the adoption hallway, while hundreds of others sit in their kennels in the stray area behind closed doors.  The very idea of a dog in such urgent need of care sitting in one of these hidden kennels is unthinkable to me.

I promise to share more information as I receive it.  In the meantime, please keep a good thought for this dog and for all the pets at MAS.

Goodbye pumpkin. Long may you run...

50 thoughts on “How Much Sadder Can Sad Get?

  1. That dog was able to stand and walk on its own without help or support, so was therefore NOT beyond at least attempting treatment! Dr Rebecca Coleman could have consulted any number of vets to discover protocols for treatment if she does not have the knowledge or experience in treating advanced emaciation such as this. At the very least this dog should have been on a slow IV drip immediately upon coming into MAS. Tragic and needless, yet again.

  2. How could this have been done to any defenseless animal? I would dearly like to know how long that poor creature was kept, what condition he was in on intake etc. Please keep us updated, they want a foi request? Honestly, their records are top secret? I can see why, from their track record. I’m just…there are no words. Disgusted and sad and angry, some combination of those.
    RIP little darling, so sorry for your pain.

    1. The thing is, even if the dog came in to MAS emaciated (I don’t know either way), I can’t think of any justification for putting him in a stray kennel. NONE. Maybe there is a good reason and I just can’t think of it because I am so heartbroken over this dog.

      In any case, my offers to help another dog in need in place of this one are ignored. Again. And instead I get a letter from somebody I don’t know telling me I have to file a FOIA request and show my proof of TN residency and have a splendid day. This lady saw the pic of the starved dog being led to the kill room and thinks I could have a splendid day? WTF.

      1. Blow her off, she’s an old memphis political crony and been around for a while. Course she landed in a sweet job, but her signature really was HORRID! considering the topic. Wharton just came on TV to speak about MAS but also gave the spay and neuter lecture. They are still firing over there.

  3. Oh, and they’re working on their ‘cover story’ as we speak. No matter what Pepper, Hooks, Dunlap or Coleman say, this dog should never have spent one minute in a kennel, let alone walked to the kill room. Pepper does not say it was a surrender with request to euthanize so he ‘had’ to euthanize, and they would have killed it without bothering with an ‘evaluation’ if it was. One minute in a kennel instead of a vet hospital is animal cruelty and should be reported to the Sheriff’s office. Did we know it was only a matter of time.

      1. Jeni Deprizio WPTY-24 – she cares and covers MAS when no one else will!

  4. Dear God, it keeps happening . . .
    That poor dog (and who knows how many others like him). I most definitely would have done something to try and get him treated (or at least to a real vets office where someone with some compassion could have made a difference).
    Has the story of Patrick not hit Memphis yet? What a missed opportunity to really show the people that they care . . . oh, I forgot, they don’t.

  5. The dog wasn’t in that bad a shape… he’s walking on his own. Shame on them!

  6. This dog was walking on his own!!!!!!! He wasn’t beyond treatment!! Why do they refuse to even try??

  7. Oh my God. My heart is broken. Those people are the anti-christ. Have a splendid day? WTF is she on? My only thoughts right now are that I pray Karma gets these people and bites them in the ass. I do not understand their way of thinking at all. Maybe I am too compassionate but how can people who are not compassionate at all be allowed to make the decisions for those with no voice? Poor baby. Poor sweet baby. What a painful life to be ended and then to be ended with no comfort. Bastards.

    1. I’m with you Debbie. “Have a Splendid Day” my ass. I’d like to personally meet her and wish her a splendid day.

      1. I’m not going to be able to see or hear the phrase “Have a splendid day!” ever again without throwing up a bit in my mouth.

  8. That sweet sweet suffering angel dog. She is looking toward the camera. It is breaking my heart!!!!! To think that so many dogs have had to suffer horrible lives of starvation and cold only to end up here in a place like MAS where instead of suffering being relieved and a caring staff to help they must bear more of the same treatment.

    It is unbelievable to me that all the dogs could be pictured on line by simply using the Chameleon Program which they already have. Instead, the staff don’t like it so they don’t use it. Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Isn’t Matthew Pepper enough of a man to tell the staff they must use it or find another job? Is Janet Hooks so blind and cold that she can see the suffering of the animals at MAS and not try to improve anything? Do not tell me that there are no caring people in Memphis. There are and they must be found. Evil cannot be allowed to be visited on helpless creatures who depend on man to take care of them. They give everything they have and they rightly deserve to have the respect and care of man. They deserve to have a full and happy life.

  9. I agree with the posters who say the dog looks treatable. It’s just a guess without blood tests to make sure there’s no organ damage, but I’ve seen dogs who looked worse in photos and made a complete recovery. I don’t understand why this dog wasn’t sent to Memphis Humane? I thought that’s what they did with dogs who needed immediate medical care? MAS sinks lower every day. If it turns out this dog was housed there for any length of time in that condition–then they’ve hit rock bottom.

  10. If the dim bulbs at MAS had publicized the plight of this poor, emaciated dog (ala “Patrick”), many GOOD things could have happened:

    *MAS would have come out smelling like a rose, even though they are clearly not in this to help or save animals

    *MAS would have gotten donations from all around the globe, as the caretakers of Patrick have — more money for the shelter is something they seem to complain about not having

    *The poor dog would have had dozens of potential adopters stepping forward to offer him a home. All those who didn’t actually adopt this particular dog could have been steered toward another dog with a sad past who needs a home

    All of this would have been easy to accomplish and would have been a complete win-win for all concerned. Additionally, it didn’t take a rocket scientist (I’m a pet sitter, for goodness sake) to come up with any of this. The director of a major city shelter could easily think in “solutions” mode and put a plan like this together in the thirty seconds it took me.

  11. Reading this post from start to finish, and seeing the photo at the end, is like reading a horror novel. It is surreal. The feeling of despair that overcame me when I read the words, “This dog has been euthanized” was overwhelming. All hope of being able to help this dog erased, expressed in a few remorseless words. It’s inconceivable that Mr. Pepper can truly believe that MAS treats animals humanely. He surely understands the suffering he causes and excuses. I seriously question whether he enjoys it.

    1. Since AC Wharton endorsement of Matt Pepper, it seems that Matt & the MAS have pushed all the buttons to be less & less accountable or compassionate! More & more is happening & I don’t know what can be done to change it. Emails are posted, stories appear on TV stations & it was given a quick mention on Channel 3 Informed Sources. I emailed Richard Ransom requesting more time be given to the problems at MAS. Susan Adler Thorp stated that AC needs to address the situation since he did what he did his 1st day in office. But since bringing on Matt, he has gone on about his business. Mr. White who attained a board meting stated that emails sent to the mayor are being blocked because they were so overwhelming. And still nothing is being done! Maybe a picket line will draw Jenni from Channel 24 to get the problems on the TV.
      So when the new shelter is ready the problems at MAS are just going to transfer the coverup from old location to new digs.
      How long will it take for the employees to run the new place into the condition the current location is in??????????

  12. I’ve “treated” three dogs that were as thin.

    It was complicated and technical and very, very involved.

    I FED them.

    They got better.

    We found them homes.

    My first thought was the the first sentence of the first comment. The dog is walking competently under his own power. He wanted to live.

  13. DAMN….euthenized 2 prevent suffering…….WHO’S suffering? MAS!!!!!! i bet a caring vet could’ve helped!!! SO SAD………..

  14. Icant even comprehend the evil in these people, they continue to evade questions and pass the buck every moment of every day while killing dogs for no reason. Almost as if for sick entertainment. I do know that we can’t give up :”(

  15. This makes me sick. What else can we do? We have sent emails and written letters. This is not an acceptable treatment for poor defenseless animals. How do we either get the people out of office who are condoning this or get the animals the proper attention they need? What can we do????

  16. I swear the people who run this shelter think they are a puppy store, and if it won’t turn a quick profit, then it’s an acceptable loss in the cost of doing business.

  17. One of my rescue fosters came into the shelter at 19 pounds. He is now at a healthy 64 pounds.

    No one can believe he was actually alive and able to walk at less than ONE THIRD his normal body weight. The vet at the shelter was astonished. The rescue vet was bewildered

    He was blind and deaf from malnutrition and had been starving so long he had extensive hair loss from simply not making new hair as the old fell out

    And he had been burned by either hot water or some chemical thrown in his face at some recent point. His nails were completely grown under

    The shelter put him on fluids, antibiotics and lots of small regular meals. He ate with gusto, the shelter director said since he obviously didn’t want to die, she wasn’t going to argue with him. They provided him with SHELTER. That should be the whole point

    He gained 5 pounds (mostly fluids) in the week they had him, then we got him.

    It took 2 months and 20 dollars of amoxicillin to get him rehabbed. His vision and hearing are normal and he’s funny as hell. The people at the shelter didn’t believe it was the same dog when I sent them a picture. They are happy and excited to be a part of his journey to recovery. A GOOD shelter is such a blessing!

    His original condition makes the dog on the webcam here look fit, but he was walking and eating and he survived and it was not expensive or particularly difficult. After the first few days or weeks of small soft meals, most of these dogs do great.

    Blood tests are less important than the attitude of the dog itself. Marvin’s blood work was not good. But he was walking and hungry and the shelter gave him ONE bag of ringers and fed him and let him decide if he wanted to live.

    I’ve rehabbed 3 severe starvation cases this year. Rescue has had a dozen in the past 18 months (we think 7-8 all came from the same puppymiller who dumped them in different locations o try to avoid getting caught). 10 wanted to eat, all thrived. Two didn’t, one died in her sleep but in a warm bed. The other was euthanized with end stage kidney failure.

    Did this baby want to eat? If he did, he almost certainly would have been treatable. Shame on the attitude of MAS. It would be lovely if they looked for pets to save not ones to kill

  18. I really don’t understand the lack of sensitivity of those running MAS. I loved the response telling you that the Freedom of Information Act applied to your request.

    I live in Florida and have sent emails of my own to the shelter and to the mayor and have never gotten a response. But that’s okay. They obviously know that people across the entire country are watching them and they don’t care.

    Thank you for all you are trying to do for the animals at the MAS.

  19. It appears that no matter how many or who is concerned for the MAS stray keenels, the shelter releases no info on the dogs that are seen. There have recently been other dogs in the news etc in worse shape than poor Pumkin, that has gotten medical care and TLC and lived to go on to wonderful lives of love and care. This is just unacceptable to all animal lovers and other shelters who care about a dog finding a good loving home. The operation of the MAS shelter is mean and cruel. There seriously need to be changes. MAS just does not care and treat all animals equal.

    1. If MAS receives offers to help pets but can’t be bothered to respond (as they have in my case and possibly others), how can they turn around and kill healthy/treatable pets? It makes no sense to me. I mean, is it really THAT GREAT rounding up defenseless dogs and cats, strapping them to the table and killing them? Why won’t they do anything to at least lessen the needless killing?

      1. First, they don’t strap them to the table and kill them. Some—sick and hungry like Punkin—go wagging back to the kill room under their own power. Trusting and hopeful to the end.
        Second, rounding up dogs and cats pays better than washing cars or bagging groceries (maybe?) and dogs and cats can’t complain to HR about poor customer service, so your chances of KEEPING the job are better than if you were a bagger at the grocery store and were as lazy and unfriendly and unhelpful as these people are.
        Third, to their way of thinking (maybe?) the killing is required. Dead dogs don’t need to be fed or watered. They don’t bark. Honestly, if they “round up” a stray, I venture they figure it’s payback for the *irresponsible public* that let it get loose to kill said animal. Death is their only power/control point, and they don’t want to lose it.
        I’m sure there are myriad psychologists who can explain the various details of compassion fatigue or other mental disorders that make death by lethal injection the preferred choice of so many paid city workers. I’m sick and tired of it, and I want it to stop.

  20. Horrific! Irresponsible!! Cruel!! Again the MAS needs to be thoroughly investigated and those who are not there in the best interest of the animals need to find another career path. I believe there are many, many people who are qualified, caring and loving to step into the positions that should be vacated by many of the current employees. Working at an animal shelter is a labor of love – if you cannot provide the love, get out of the shelter!
    Run free little one – my heart is with you!

  21. You are barking up the wrong tree! Look at the history and stats at this shelter…IT IS NOT A SHELTER it is a sham! Their kill stats run about 70% and not one of their employees is sympathetic or an animal advocate. This facility needs to be privatized and taken out of the hands of the local greedy, politicians.

  22. So, are you Memphians and Tennesseans mad enough yet to get out on the street and DO something? I am willing to come from NY. Others are willing to come from Az, CA etc.

    Oh, and BTW, FOIA is NOT restricted to state residency. Anyone can file FOIA for anywhere, so her PhD surely stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper”.

    I am SO,,,grrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

    1. The TN Open Records Act does specify that it’s for residents of TN. I can’t help wondering, why did Mr. Pepper not respond to my offer to help a dog in the stray area but instead just have Ms. Hall respond to the records request? Why they gotta be all FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT about it?

      1. Because. Because they can, because you are a pest and they want you to GO AWAY and not help any animals, at least not theirs, thank you very much.
        Or, because they don’t like you.
        Or because they have something to hide and they don’t want to give you more information about this dog, or any other dog or cat they have ever seen or touched or killed.
        Or, because you might publicize other bad crap you discover about them.
        Or because they are very busy murdering animals and can’t be bothered.
        Or, all of the above?!
        But actually, I think it’s because if they work WITH you, then the charade will have to be up and the naked emperor will be exposed and that’s way less fun than just living (or dying) with the status quo for Pepper, the employees, and the Mayor too.

    2. Let’s call “Dr. Splendid-Day’s” bluff and if she is going to throw down the “need a FOIA request” obstacle, let’s create an FOIA request they can remember! Let’s ask for every possible document about every animal who has passed through MAS’s hands. IRE can be a great resource. Here are some local members who might be able to help if they are still there: Daniel Connolly, The CA, (901) 529-5296; Bruce Moore, CBS-WREG-TV, (901) 543-2113; Rosemary Nelms, The CA; (901) 529-2782; James O’Donnell, CBS-WREG-TV, (901) 849-4436; Marc Perrusquia, The CA, (901) 526-2545. Also, take a look at The Tennessee Watchdog at

      1. The response was so weasle-y. I want to help a dog and find out about the one I was too late to help. Their reaction? Hurry up everyone – HIDE BEHIND THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT! Geez, maybe we should start calling MAS “Hangar 18”.

  23. You need to get a media contact and get this plastered on the news, in the paper, everywhere. It needs to be as well known as Patrick’s case and people need to stand up and fight. There should be protests every single weekend from the locals there who profess to care. Pass flyers out, send out copies on Facebook, utilize the resources we have this day in age to fight for a worthy cause. Where in the world are all the Memphis rescue groups???? If someone from Memphis could get the ball rolling, many of us out of staters would be glad to get the word out online…and even fly out there for a huge protest.

  24. I think we need to get ahold of all the conventions that are going to be help in Memphis and start pressuring people to ban the city.

  25. please remind me….what is FOIA? i prolly know this, right? i maybe just forgot? thanx,

    1. It’s Freedom of Information Act, the law that requires certain government information to (eventually, maybe) be released to a member of the public who jumps through the right hoops. But in the case of MAS, FOIA stands for “F’in Official Ignorance toward Animals”…

  26. i just got it…..daft dru. i knew i knew it n i just forgot it. i laughed at myself when i saw it. lolol..than u, Susan,
    silly dru
    i like the MAS FOIA, tho.

  27. It’s true – we don’t know what shape this dog was in when he/she came into the Shelter.

    The problem I have is Matthew Pepper’s ‘evasive’ answer. Also – here again – not gracefully ‘accepting’ the offered or offers – of help.

    They’re talking about laying off Fire Personnel in order to save money – didn’t someone submit a way of saving money by privatizing MAS? Instead of letting Fire Personnel go – how about solving the headaches, the complaints, etc. – by privatizing MAS!?!

    It’s so difficult to even look at these photos.

    Isn’t their Vet that one that came to the last MAS meeting – and left 2 minutes after it started!?!

    I think we need to organize and march/meet in front of MAS again. Attending the board meetings – asking questions, writing letters – doesn’t seem to be doing the job, as it just seems to fall on deaf ears.

  28. I am willing to travel down to Memphis if a march/meeting is organized. I’d like to actually walk in MAS and meet the people that I see on camera every day. I’d like to personally ask them how they can sleep at night knowing they treat the animals the way they do. If they give me the response that they “sleep just fine” then I’ll truly know these people are evil and not just ignorant or untrained. I know many people do “what they have to do” to survive and make a living, but it seems to me that Wharton, Pepper and the MAS paid staff get a little too much enjoyment out of killing all these animals. If they didn’t and they truly cared, they would stop the killing at MAS and welcome in those willing to help.

  29. A few folks have mentioned Patrick, and y’know, I TRIED to get the administrators to publicize the stories about MAS. Whenever TPM tells its followers to do something, they do it (in some cases this is not good, and my criticisms actually got me banned from the page). But they haven’t said anything about it. It would take mere seconds to direct everyone to this site with some background info. Surely there are lots of Memphis readers. Someone else should send them a message asking for help getting the word out.
    –another person who would travel to Memphis for a demonstration (and that is the ONLY reason)

  30. I know you want this to be a swear-free zone, but holy moley, that’s all I can think right now.

    Also, that “have a splendid day!” was clearly a big F-U.

  31. That is heartbreaking….I wish I had the finances to have a NO KILL shelter…poor baby,how could this happen??? :(

  32. A new law goes into effect on July 1 in Tennessee that makes transmitting pictures that cause distress a prosecutable offense. See
    for more information. Another crazy law coming out of Tennessee. But speaking of crazy, if one of the images captured from MAS–many of which *should* cause any caring person distress–is considered to fall under these guidelines, could someone invoke this law? And of course Shirley is disseminating these images (for which thank you!) and would be the person at risk of prosecution. Again, it is far-fetched–I hope–but do we need a lawyer to weigh in on whether this crazy new Tennessee law could be used to MAS’ advantage to shut down sites like this one?

  33. I guess I shouldnt be surprised that they would “euthanize” an emaciated dog considering they “euthanize” perfectly fine/healthy strays but as everyone else said, this dog couldve been saved. Ive seen on that Animal Cops show MANY times where an animal (whether its a dog, horse, whatever) literally on the brink of death and they tend to it medically (Im not even going to pretend like I even know what they do besides maybe an IV drip) and with some time, its perfectly fine again. Poor Pumpkin. RIP.

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