An Executive Order

Nova - a dog who needs to be sprung before MAS decides she is its property.

Per the Memphis pound, the dogs in the stray area aren’t city property and therefore they are off limits to the public – both in person and online.  No one is allowed to photograph them and share their photos in an effort to save them.

OK, fine.  Let’s say I accept your assertion and agree that these dogs are not your property.  In this case, you have no right to kill them.

I hereby decree that MAS must immediately cease and desist its killing of dogs whom they do not own.

These are the community’s pets and we, the public, don’t want them killed.  We want the shelter to provide care for them temporarily until they find their new families.

46 thoughts on “An Executive Order


    Gee, I suppose that’s just the first step before removing the cams so you can’t post those pictures anymore. This just.. I am so blown away by how much these people DO. NOT. CARE.

    1. What have I missed? Who issued an executive order to whom? Who is so certain that they can give orders to everyone else even on line? This person needs a serious Come to Jesus Talk.

      1. haha – that would be me Arlene. I guess I got all heady with power from watching so much egomania at work on the webcams.

  2. The dogs are not killed until their holding time is up which makes them city property. If an owner turns one in the sign a paper they are immediately making it city property. Think when they sign it says the animal may be killed. Someone sent me a copy of what they sign, but can’t find it right now, but it is pretty explicit about what will happen to the animal. There is a post somewhere that the vet can euth a dog before the hold time is up if they deem it suffering and they can’t treat it. Read that on a Facebook page, but not sure which one.

    1. So what you’re saying, as I interpret it, is that owner surrenders are the city property immediately. If so, why can’t the public have access to them in person and online upon intake?

      As for the strays, I can’t see how the pound can pull that off: They aren’t our property until they hit the kill room door? Gimme a break. Rather, give THEM a break.

      MAS can’t have it both ways – if they intend to keep the dogs hidden until killing, they need to step up and own what they are doing. Spare us the “property” bs.

      1. That’s how it works here where I live. Strays have a 5 day hold period, after that they may be PTS. Owner surrenders immediately become ‘property’ (I hate that terminology) of the county and can be PTS at any time. BUT whether stray or owner surrender, they will also let you put your name to the animal and if adoption and rescue attempts have failed and the animal IS slated to be PTS they will call you, and after paying the pull fee you may reclaim the animal. But what this place is doing is BS. Here they try to post the info and pics ASAP for all the animals turned in as strays, but they will also list on there the ‘available on’ date, i.e. the day their hold period is up. I see absolutely NO problem with their methods, why does this shelter?

  3. Don’t you just love it when bureaucrats choose to selectively interpret “rules” so that they can do what they damn well please? HTH do they expect to reunite this “lost property” with its “owners” if they don’t immediately post the photos? Not all stray animals are abandoned. Can somebody get the City Council/County Commissioners to pass an ordinance that says, “All animals who are even temporary ‘guests’ can and will be photographed and posted on our website. Doesn’t mean they are our property–just means this is in the best interests of the animals.”

  4. What a big load of crap. I thought this girl was an owner surrender, anyway? Just because these incompetent idiots choose to stick her in the stray area, doesn’t make her a stray. Or am I mistaken, and she was a stray? If so, they (should) have a responsibility to try to find her owner, so they should thank you for doing the job they are too incompetent to do properly.

  5. “Per the Memphis pound, the dogs in the stray area aren’t city property and therefore they are off limits to the public – both in person and online.”


    Just. Wow.

    If they aren’t city property, they must be public property and the city has no right to withhold their presence from the public.

    If my dog escapes my home during a burglary, and my next door neighbor takes my dog and hides it away in his basement, he has stolen my dog and it is a crime. If he hides my dog in his basement for three days and then kills it, it is a crime.

    If that same neighbor takes my dog to the shelter and they hide my dog away in the stray area for three days, then kill it, it’s…all good? No. No, I’m afraid it’s not.

    The shelter has an *obligation* to publicize its animals, strays and owner surrenders alike…if the goal is to get animals out alive, that is.

    If the goal is just to act as a slaughterhouse for pets, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing, MAS.

    Locals? Find us a spot for a billboard, please. Let’s let Memphis know that Mayor Wharton likes dead puppies.

    1. These people have forgotten that it is the taxpayers who supply them with their salary. The taxpayers can take that salary away from them too.

      The people do not want a slaughterhouse for pets. They want what the pets deserve: To be treated with kindness, properly housed and fed and given ample water. They deserve to be seen so that they can be adopted into loving homes. ALL of the pets within those walls, not just those that “the powers that be” decide can have that chance.

  6. Letter sent to the mayor – they own them when they can kill them, but not when they house them? I think we need to get an animal friendly attorney involved here. Does anyone know anyone?

    1. I want to clarify for everyone something that has been mentioned before but probably needs to be reiterated: AFAIK, if an owner comes to MAS saying he has lost his dog and wants to look for the dog, he will be allowed to walk through the stray area when a staff member is available to accompany him. This is the ONLY WAY for an owner to find out if MAS has picked up his lost dog. If the owner has no transportation to the shelter or works the hours that the shelter is open or is housebound or for any other reason can not physically get to the shelter daily to look for his dog, there is a good chance the dog will be held for 3 days and then killed. MAS has the capability, with its Chameleon software, to post incoming dogs upon intake to PetHarbor so that owners can look for possible matches to their lost pets online. But MAS doesn’t do it.

      What is NOT allowed is the sharing online of photos/info of dogs in the stray area – supposedly because they are not the city’s property. Nor are visitors to the shelter wanting to adopt a dog allowed to walk through the stray area – again, supposedly because these dogs are not the city’s property.

      In shelters committed to saving lives, pets are photographed and listed online upon intake. Owners looking for lost pets and potential adopters can see all the pets online and visit most of them in the kennels. Adopters can indicate an interest in a dog who is on a 3 day hold and as soon as the 3 days are up, the adopter is notified that he can adopt the dog. At MAS, potential adopters can not see the strays in person and no one can see them listed online. After 3 days, most are killed without anyone ever knowing they needed help.

      This practice has been in place since Matthew Pepper implemented it shortly after taking over MAS. You can read about the change here:

      The “Executive Order” was from me – ordering them to stop killing pets they claim are not their property. Sorry if my snarkiness confuzzled anyone.

      1. This is unacceptable. What harm would it do for MAS, after the 3 day waiting period, to put them on the adoption floor or post them online on their own site or on a site like PetHarbor? It would certainly give more animals a chance at a life.

      2. It would save more lives if they would post all pets online immediately upon intake. That’s what many other large municipal shelters do and it provides additional exposure for the pets.

      3. (woah- fancy new comments setup)

        @ Crystal, just to play devil’s advocate- i’m not sure it would neccessarily do any ‘harm’ per se, but if for whatever reason MAS found a dog not to be acceptable to be placed into adoption after their stray hold is up (for health or behavior or whatever), then i guess asking them to do so or asking them to post them online seems like shouting at a brick wall. (does that make sense? i re-read my comment and i’m not sure i’m making myself clear)
        Most shelters that decide an animal isn’t placeable and isn’t intending to allow it to be adopted, wouldn’t then place it into adoption or on their website.

        I am NOT saying i agree with the way MAS is doing things. clearly the solution for this issue is to post the animal online DURING it’s stray hold.
        We moved to that maybe a year ago, and it’s been amazing- yes it took more staff time, and we needed a LOT more digitial cameras. We also needed a website that would support that service. So it took some time and effort. But it was totes worth it.

      4. So they can put a disclaimer on each picture of an animal who has not been cleared for adoption: “The posting of this picture doesn’t constitute an offer of adoption and this animal may be declared null and void at any time…” I’m guessing that they hate the idea that the Annoying Public (just one caste removed from the Irresponsible Public) might start advocating for a particular animal that they plan to kill. Could someone who has standing as a Memphis (or even Tennessee) resident ask the City Solicitor for his/her reading of the law? I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Pepper and friends to decide on their own what the law allows or doesn’t allow. Wouldn’t it be great to get a quote from the lead city attorney saying “No reason why you can’t put the photos of strays on PetHarbor or any other website…”

      5. I agree with everything you have written, however, the key here is “shelters committed to saving lives”…..MAS is NOT committed to saving lives- THAT takes effort – they all want to collect their paychecks and that is all. Pepper has proven over and over again that the only thing he is good at doing is providing lip service – actions speak louder than words – chameleon software continues to collect dust and hey, when was the last time they had an adoption event off-site?! Clearly, they would rather continue to keep their high kill rate- wonder if there is extra money involved….do those that inject the dogs (kill) get paid extra money for that dirty deed? Does anyone know? I bet there is incentive for them to kill instead of save!!!

      6. My understanding is that those who work in the kill room do earn a slightly higher wage than other staff members. As for offsite adoption events, I don’t know but I hope someone will ask. I would assume that a shelter the size of MAS, located in such a heavily populated city, has offsite adoptions regularly.

  7. MAS certainly seems to have lots of time to warn people who care about these lost souls about who can and cannot take pictures of them. What have you got to hide MAS? Just asking.

    1. When I visit my area no kill shelter, they let me see all the dogs – even if I come hours before they officially open and they haven’t finished cleaning yet. I find that reassuring, as if they are saying “Even at our dirtiest part of the day, we have nothing to hide”. I realize that letting in the public hours early at most shelters is not feasible and I’m not saying anyone needs to do that. My point is that, by letting me see ALL the dogs, it makes me feel more confident in them and in turn, I want to support them more. In fact, I have a box of canned food and treats on my kitchen table right now that I really need to get over there.

  8. Are they crazy? What makes MAS different from nearly every other shelter in the country? They nearly ALL put their pets on Petfinder or a similiar website or wish they could if they don’t have a vol to do the work. I’ve never heard of a shelter with such a bizarre policy. Once the dog is impounded, it’s the responsibility of the city/county. That’s what IMPOUNDED MEANS. Seize and take legal custody of. Duh.

    1. I think MAS is using the French word “impounded” (pronounced IM-pu-NAY) meaning: to take legal custody of without taking legal custody of.

      I’m so silly.

      1. LAWL, but not as silly as Matthew Pepper. He doesn’t want the public traipsing through the stray area for whatever reason, so he MAKES UP this absurd (but sort of legal sounding) rule.

  9. WTF?? Well, if they are “nobody’s”, then I hereby claim that they are everyone’s. And, for Pecker, I mean Pepper’s and Wharton’s information, as the saying goes. YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME. So back off, because them’s is REAL fightin’ words.

    So, Memphians, still think a protest is a BAD idea? I mean, even if we get arrested, we can claim that until the 3 day hold is up, we are NOT their property!

    What a BUNCH of losers. Maybe it is time to sue the City? C’mon people, we can’t just sit here and bitch!

    1. Why not dear, it’s what you do best ? I volunteer in a large No Kill shelter and every animal we take from the public they sign a euth slip. Quite frankly it’s uninformed know nothings such as your group that keep communications shut down.. If you traipsed into SFSPCA I would call the police on your for interupting shelter operations. Your type kill more animals with your ignorance than the gas chambers of Arkansas.

      1. @ Mikken did my English as a second language creat confusion.? I’m sorry. In Germany we adhere to the old proverb of ” If everyone swept their own front porch, the whole world would be clean” Mr. Winograd has caused, and continues to cause great harm to animals. While it may feel good to tilt at windmills it does nothing to solve the problem. So you
        ” save” 1 dog out of 15,0000, have you no homeless shelter animals of your own to care for.? Does the dog in Memphis have more spiritual value? Is it more worthy than say the dog sitting in a kennel 5 miles from your home. The money spent transporting that 1 dog could have gone a lot further used wisely. To a person who has spent her life in VM it looks like a publicity stunt for your glorification, not the poor animals..

      2. “Mr. Winograd has caused, and continues to cause great harm to animals. While it may feel good to tilt at windmills it does nothing to solve the problem. ”

        Greta, there must be some kind of miscommunication happening here because no, I’m not understanding you. How Mr. Winograd causes great harm to animals is not something I’m seeing. Please explain.

        “So you
        ” save” 1 dog out of 15,0000, have you no homeless shelter animals of your own to care for.? Does the dog in Memphis have more spiritual value? ”

        Well…it makes a very big difference to that one dog, I’m certain. But I’m not certain why you think that saving a dog remotely is different from saving a dog locally? The dog is saved and nothing is taken away from my local shelter dogs and cats in the process. How is it different from my local shelter adopting out a dog to someone who lives in the next state? Should they have said, “No, go adopt a dog from your own state”? Those people saw that dog online and wanted it. If they’re willing to put in the effort and driving time and gas money to get that dog, more power to them.

        “The money spent transporting that 1 dog could have gone a lot further used wisely.”

        That may be so IF there were a big kettle of money labeled “animal rescue” out there. But there isn’t. The goal was to save that one dog. People pulled together and did it. Time, money, and effort donated. You could argue that those resources could have been better used if applied towards cancer research. Or rebuilding Haiti. Or helping Joplin shelters. Or saving sixty-two kittens from my local shelter. And you might be right…or not. The fact is that it’s not relevant because it’s not an objective issue. It’s also not an either/or proposition. If it were, I’m sure that little Timmy Johnson’s cancer treatments would get paid for long before any kittens got rescued, ever.

        We can save that ONE dog and still help out at our local shelters. We can donate time, money, and effort to MAS animals and still support local rescue efforts. There’s no big kettle of money to be spent as wisely and efficiently as possible. There’s just people, doing what they can.

      3. There IS a big kettle of money, but it’s not labeled “animal rescue”. It’s labeled “Memphis Nose Jobs”…

      4. This seems an odd posting order, but there were no reply buttons under your arguments. My opinion that you appear as a group of glory hounds is just that. .My opinion. There are always citizens who want the drama of “rescue’ receiving a boost from the rush of adoration that comes with the larger audience. I simply have more respect for our rescues that come in quietly get a normal animal and go. They are not seeking adulation, they are saving animals.. As far as the animal that was saved noticing , so did the local animal that wasn’t. While you were patting each other on the back, dogs under your nose were dying, but they weren’t high profile.. Every day animals die in transport, 3 just died going from Georgia to New York.If your high energy could be directed into a positive course of action, it would be invaluable.

      5. “I simply have more respect for our rescues that come in quietly get a normal animal and go.”

        Ok. If that’s where your respect lies, then I’m sure you’re feeling plenty of it for all the folks here who have taken in an animal from the local shelters. Quietly and without fanfare. We’re all doing it, after all. And I won’t even mention the folks on here who actually run their own rescues (quietly and without fanfare) or work/volunteer in their local shelters (quietly and without fanfare). Surely they deserve your respect even if they did work to save a dog from MAS.

        “As far as the animal that was saved noticing , so did the local animal that wasn’t.”

        Again, saving that dog took NOTHING away from local animal rescues.

        And as far as “glory seeking” goes, that argument is empty. The people here have been trying to support the locals in Memphis who are the boots on the ground, doing good things there. Unfortunately, in doing so, Shirley has made herself a pariah among those in power in Memphis and taken abuse from the “Friends”. She’s dealt with the heartbreak of watching animals go to kill day after day. She’s shared with us more than many could bear and she keeps at it. She’s not looking for glory, Greta, she’s looking for compassion. And she keeps hammering away to try and get it.

        “While you were patting each other on the back, dogs under your nose were dying, but they weren’t high profile.. ”

        Wow, and this is where I realize that you missed the point of the exercise. That dog WASN’T “high profile”. That dog was deemed “unadoptable” in the stray area and would have been killed with no one ever seeing him, no one ever possibly giving him a chance, no one even taking his photo to prove that he was once there. A number, just another number, that’s what he was. Now he has a name and a chance at a life. THAT’S how it *should* work. And that was the point.

        “Every day animals die in transport, 3 just died going from Georgia to New York.If your high energy could be directed into a positive course of action, it would be invaluable.”

        So…transport isn’t valuable? Because animals die in transport? Again, I’m not understanding you. Should we all just act locally and forget about anything not in our own back yards? Because I’m helping my shelter in my community – do I write off everyone else until every animal in my community has a home and decent care? Or do I allot my money only to save the most local animals per dollar? Because I can rescue 500 local hamsters for every one local horse, should I say, “Screw the horses, they’re too expensive”? If I rescue only local hamsters, and do it quietly and without fanfare, is that going to earn your respect?

        No, we pick and choose where our resources go. I will donate to this cause, not that one. I will spend my time on this project, not that one. I will make phone calls for this group, not that one. Rescue is a personal thing. You do what you can with what you’ve got and work in a direction that speaks to you. If that means local hamsters, that’s excellent. If that means an unnamed MAS stray, that’s excellent. If that means diabetic cats in Serbia only, fantastic. If it means off the track thoroughbred horses in NJ, wonderful.

        What cause you choose isn’t something that should be dictated by numbers. Do good. Do what you can and make a difference. Maybe it’s just the one dog you adopt from the local shelter. Maybe it’s the money you sent to animal rescue in Japan. Maybe it’s the anemic kitten you found on the side of the road and got treated. Or the owl with the broken wing you took to the wildlife rehab facility. Do good. Do what you can. Act locally AND globally. Find what matters to you and pursue it with passion. Join with others of a like mind and increase your ability to effect change.

        And don’t forget to support others who are doing good, even if it’s not “your” good.

      6. What you do makes you happy. I was privileged to have 35 years in private practice. It made me happy. During that period I offered my services to shelters at no charge, thus making them happy. In the medical profession one learns quickly to triage, helter skelter makes little sense to me. This is Shirleys blog, and what I am doing here is rather like knocking on her door to tell her I don’t care for her carpet. I will leave you to your self congratulating, I know that time will teach you what common sense has failed to shine a light on. Since full retirement I have had the time and money to follow my passion for improving shelters.

      7. I’ve learned that you do what you can do, others do what they can do and somewhere we meet in the middle and a goal is accomplished. However, I do see what greta is referring to. Some may find the actions of others to be disingenuous at times depending on the outcome.
        The local No-Kill group in my area just had an area fundraiser where they invite local rescue groups to participate. This year, they had around 5 rescue groups that were no-shows. At the last minute, a decision was made to invite the local municipal shelter. The municipal shelter is not a “no-kill” facility and has come under harsh criticism even before it’s creation by the leadership of the No-Kill group. A local business sponsored over $600 for the municipal shelter’s animals to help offset the cost of adoption. 10 animals were adopted that day. 10 animals that may have surely been killed had they not been adopted.
        And now, the No-Kill group is taking credit for playing a role in that. Aside from providing the venue, there was no other assistance given. There was no advertisement for the municipal shelter that the other rescue groups got. And the thought sits in the back of my mind if all the rescue groups had shown up, would the municipal shelter still have been invited. What would have been said if the municipal shelter had not been successful in getting those animals adopted out.
        In the end, animals were saved. To some, that is all that matters.

  10. At my local animal control they post EVERYTHING as soon as they can. Those that are on stray hold are declared just that way. I’ve seen waiting lines on the morning of a stray hold ending for a particularly cute or unusual or small dog. In that case, they hold a raffle, with each adopter having an equal chance at “winning” the much wanted pet. It is a titch inconvenient perhaps to have the public *pestering* staff about an animal that is not yet available. But, well, it sure beats working in a place where nobody gives a hoot and 77% of the inmates are murdered.
    Often times caring staff can talk with interested adopters and give them suggestions about OTHER animals that are available NOW, win-win.

    1. Love that! “You know, Fifi the photogenic fluffy-poo puppy has a huge waiting list on the raffle. But have you seen this adorable little black scruff of a dog? Not quite as photogenic, but he’s a young adult, walks beautifully on a leash (we know because we didn’t drag him on a pole) and he sits nicely for treats.”

    2. we allow our stray-hold animals to be ‘pre-selected’ (first come first served)- they can be placed on adoption hold during their stray hold- once that expires (and they’re speutered), then we call the potential adopter to let them know their new pet is available.

      1. Exactly! That’s how my local area shelter handles it as well. And they are very upfront if there is waiting list and might point folks to another similar dog or cat that doesn’t have quite the waiting list, isn’t quite as photogenic, or just doesn’t have the same backstory that sometimes prompts people to adopt. “She’s just a generic tabby cat, but special in her own way with her lovely sea green eyes that will melt your heart”.

  11. Anne Says:

    June 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    (woah- fancy new comments setup)

    Thanks for alerting me – I hadn’t noticed! (I usually comment via e-mail.)

  12. Anne Says:

    June 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    we allow our stray-hold animals to be ‘pre-selected’ (first come first served)- they can be placed on adoption hold during their stray hold- once that expires (and they’re speutered), then we call the potential adopter to let them know their new pet is available.



    I know there are many shelters who do business this way but maybe MAS does not? Would you consider dropping a note to everyone on the mailing list and include what you wrote above (or something similar) to make them aware that you work with a successful shelter and this is how you do it? Also maybe let them know about how your shelter changed a year ago to posting all the pets online and how it’s worked out well?

    Anyone else who works for or volunteers with a shelter that has similar practices, would you consider writing a brief note to city leaders in Memphis to share your successes?

  13. sure! i mean- i probably won’t be able to tackle it until Friday (dang kitten season), but i can just type up something and send it along :-)

  14. Regarding off-site adoptions – they haven’t had one in probably 2 months or longer. They were supposed to do something called “Bark in the Park” at the minor league baseball stadium but had to cancel because of more diseases at that hell-hole…..I went to one adoption event and quite frankly, the dogs were so dirty – you would think “they” would have at least bathed the dogs, to look presentable, before showing out the ones THEY chose to show off (?).

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