Open Thread

Since I will be offline for the next few days while I’m at the No Kill Conference, I’m going to leave this open thread for anyone who wants to chit-chat, share pets or what-have-you.  Links are fine but I would limit them to no more than 2 per comment in order to avoid being snagged by the moderation filter.  First-time commenters or any comment that WordPress deems In Need of Scrutiny by the Supreme Leader won’t be approved until I’m back online (Monday).

Anyone wanting to follow happenings at the NKC on Twitter can search for the #NKC2011 hashtag.  You can also check the No Kill Nation blog for workshop recaps and Christie Keith will be doing her usual liveblogging at the Pet Connection.  I’m sure there will be others as well.

Which do you want first – the bad news or…?

The public can now view every pet at MAS, not just the lucky few who are selected for the adoption hallway.  Unfortunately, the meet and greet area is at the city dump and the pets will be in a decomposed state:

City Solid Waste employees from the Memphis Public Works Division are discarding dead animals at the city dump because of a broken incinerator.

The Solid Waste department handles the disposal of animals at the Memphis Animal Shelter and animals who die at Memphis homes.


Shelly Seeberg, administrator AFSCME Local 1733, which represents Solid Waste employees, said the existing incinerator at 2401 N. Second is broken and she’s not sure if it will be repaired.

Not sure if it will be repaired.  Dang, the city of Memphis is apparently a pretty lax boss.  “Incinerator broken so we’ll be adding 12k pet carcasses a year to the city landfill.  Shrug.”

Memphis taxpayers – had enough yet?


Thank you to everyone who sent me this story.  You guys are awesome, no matter what other people say about you.


MAS – July 27, 2011

Sharing some more of the webcam images from yesterday.  None of these made the local news.

Dog on a chokepole on the way to the kill room.

and another...

and another...

Sweet pup to go.

Beautiful brown dog is next.

Not a nice way to hold these 2 pups.

30 seconds later - still not a nice way to hold these two.

Another 30 seconds goes by, two dogs still dangling.

Dog with pretty markings at front of shot.

These two dogs were cage mates.

Presser begins and a worker takes a cart out the front door.

The cart is left here while the presser is taking place. What is on top of the cart?

Scared to Death?

MAS webcam grab from July 27, 2011.

This afternoon, I capped the above shot via the MAS webcams.  I attached it to the below e-mail which I sent to director Matt Pepper, his boss Janet Hooks, and Mayor Wharton:

My understanding is that MAS ties dogs to the wall in the kill room and forces them to watch the dogs ahead of them being killed before it’s their turn.  I have previously conveyed to you how strongly I am opposed to this practice.  Just now, I saw on the webcam what appears to be a dog and a cat being taken together to the kill room.  I would like to get some clarification on this:

Does the attached shot depict a cat and a dog being brought to the kill room together?

I know you are aware of how terrifying the sight, sound and smell of killing is to any pet, let alone the sight, sound and smell of another species of animal being in close proximity while the killing is occurring.  I find it very troubling to think that MAS might allow this practice.

Please clarify this issue for me.

Thank you,
Shirley Thistlethwaite

If I receive a response, I will let you know.

I have raised this question in the past, as it seems that cats and dogs are sometimes brought the kill room one after the other, with too short a time span in between to have killed and disposed of the previous pet and cleaned up the room for the next killing.  But this is the first time I can recall seeing what appears to be a cat and a dog being taken together by one worker to the kill room.  Specifically, I see a cat in an open wire cage and a dog on a chokepole.  What does the MAS policy manual say about this?  Under the KILLING tab does it simply say “Whatevs”?

An Indecent Proposal

A letter to the editor of a Memphis paper encourages readers to walk in the shoes of MAS workers instead of criticizing them.  Because:

They do not want to be involved in euthanasia, but these employees are often required to. These employees are attacked by animals and people alike. They are exposed to animal excrement, vermin and disease, and they are emotionally scarred by the cruel conditions they see animals in day after day.

Let’s take these point by point.

If it’s true that no workers at MAS “want to be involved in” killing (which the letter writer mistakenly calls “euthanasia”), why haven’t they gone to their union and issued a grievance, like they did when they alleged people were making negative comments about them on the internet because of the webcams?  Why don’t they have their union tell the city that MAS workers are the only city employees forced to needlessly kill pets and they don’t want to do it anymore?  The union can offer examples of other no kill communities such as Reno and Austin and demand that Memphis institute similar programs so that the workers can stop “being involved in” killing pets immediately.

As for being “attacked by animals and people”, I assume the latter indicates a verbal form of attack.  The former of course is a risk in any animal job.  The risk can be considerably lowered through training in the humane handling and care of pets and supervision to ensure protocols are followed.  MAS appears to be lacking in these areas.

Vermin and disease – wow, sounds like the Black Death.  Or do you mean kitty colds?  Don’t worry, you can’t catch those.

Now if you want to talk about being emotionally scarred from seeing how animals are treated day after day, I feel your pain.  For example:

Someone surrenders a pair of waggybutts to MAS on July 26.

A worker carries one pup under each arm from the lobby...

...straight to the kill room.

No sir, I will never walk in those shoes. Because I am for no kill. I could not and would not kill a pet for a paycheck or even for a million dollar jackpot. I don’t begrudge anyone’s right or need to work for a living. But if the workers at MAS are truly united in their stance against needless killing, it seems implausible to me they have not taken a stand on the issue and simply maintain the status quo at a place that kills 3 out of every 4 pets it’s paid by the community to protect.

And just because I refuse to walk in their shoes doesn’t mean I am denied my right to advocate for reform and to give a voice to the defenseless pets at their mercy.  Not only am I guaranteed that right in our free society but more importantly, I feel compelled to do it.  Because silence is not an option for me.  When I see pets being needlessly killed and I “do not want to be involved in” the killing, I take action.

A box of puppies surrendered to MAS on July 26, 2011.

The box of puppies is wheeled directly to the kill room.

I miss you already.

Well, crud.  The pretty dog who caught my eye on the MAS webcam this morning was in a cage with what appeared to me to be two other dogs.  A reader sent me some photos this afternoon and it looks as if all three dogs were taken to the kill room.  [Insert profanity here.]

Such a pretty dog.

Last walk.

Goodbye three dogs we didn't have the honor of knowing.

Court Orders Killing of Michigan Shelter Dog

I just read about a shelter dog named Dusty over on KC Dog Blog.  Please read Brent’s post and click the link he has to an online petition aimed at saving Dusty’s life.  Based on a bogus “temperament test” – and I use the words loosely – Dusty is marked for killing.  The first video is of the fake-hand-poking, food-taking-away, scaring-with-stupid-doll and witchy-poo-stranger portions of Dusty’s temperament test. The second and third videos are of Dusty meeting another dog. Beneath the vids are the evaluator’s comments which were presented in court in order to have Dusty killed.  I have my thoughts, starting with the ridiculous idea that a fair temperament test could be given in this environment, but I’ll hold off on additional comments for now. What do you think?

Dog  206 in cage 33 brown female with white markings Dusty

Wiggled at approach, stare and squat. Bit hand when petted and when eating.

avoided witch

Snarled at doll

jumped but no aggression to male or female dogs

The results of the testing indicates that […] one female  Dusty 206  who snarled at the doll should be humanely euthanized because of their lack of any useful purpose and the public safety threat they  pose.

Katherine Albro Houpt VMD PhD

Professor emeritus
Cornell University

Added:  The efforts to save Dusty and her fellow bust dogs are well organized and documented here.  Please visit the site for additional info and ways to help.

Some Good News from Memphis

Hello goggie.

This MAS webcam grab shows part of the stray dog area which is off limits to potential adopters.  If you want to find out about the very cute dog visible in this shot, you must contact MAS and hope your e-mail gets read and responded to by someone there. Or you could call but generally people report getting no results via phone.

But there may be hope on the horizon for the dogs in the stray area. MAS has long had the capability of seamlessly interfacing their Chameleon software with PetHarbor to list their incoming pets online. This is one of the improvements advocates have been requesting in order to help owners find lost pets and help more pets get adopted.

This week, it looks as if MAS may be moving in that direction because their listings on PetHarbor have increased dramatically.  They don’t yet have a link to get you directly there from the MAS site but if you go to PetHarbor and navigate through to the MAS list, you will find 273 dogs listed under the “I lost my pet” category.  The first couple pages are clearly outdated listings from 2009 and 2010 but after that, you see more current listings.  There aren’t any photos at this time but I’m hoping those will be coming soon.  The “lost cats” category has 4 pages worth of listings with the first page being outdated (2010).  Hopefully photos will be added there as well.

If you have difficulty locating the lost pets category and search instead for adoptable dogs, you will only see 1 listing (adoptable cats=zero).  You want to click on the graphic that says “I lost my pet” and then search for either dogs or cats to see the new listings.

This is a good step in the right direction and, assuming there is follow through to add photos, add adoptable pets, and include a direct link to the listings on the MAS website, I believe this could help save more pets.  What I don’t know – and if anyone does know, please chime in – is if someone sees a stray dog listed online and is interested in adopting the dog, would they be allowed access to the stray area in order to meet the pet in person?

I am very excited at the prospect of MAS getting all its pets listed online and will be watching to see how things develop.  Thank you for listening to the concerns of pet advocates and taking this step MAS!

Three at a Time

The one dog appears to be listening to what's being said.

These are pets. They deserve to live. Memphis, please – stop the killing.

Memphis Police Asked to Investigate Threatening E-mail to Janis Fullilove

Someone reportedly e-mailed a threatening letter to Memphis Councilwoman Janis FulliloveThese types of letters are unacceptable.  They are also inevitable in any type of high profile case of public outrage such as what’s been happening with MAS.  There will always be a tiny minority of these types of letters generally sent by someone from one of these groups:

  • Crackpots who care nothing about the cause but just like to act creepy
  • People who do care about the cause but cross the line into poor judgment
  • People who oppose the cause and think they can undermine the vocal majority by posing as a supporter and pulling a stunt

Whatever the case, these letters are unacceptable.  No one should be made to feel threatened with physical harm.  Ever.

In addition, these types of letters take the focus off reform efforts.  You don’t notice any city leaders in Memphis bringing thousands of thoughtful, well-reasoned e-mails to the news.  But they will bring the one threatening one.  And that will become the focus, at least temporarily.

If you are writing letters in order to speak up for pets, always be respectful and try to make sure nothing in your letter could be interpreted as a threat.  If something looks questionable, rewrite it using different words or just delete it.  Keep your focus on effecting change.

Completely separate from the issue of inappropriate letters, I want to comment on the ending of the article:

Fullilove, who has five cats and a dog, said she wishes her critics would put down the poison pen and put their passion for animals to good use.

“They love animals, I believe that,” said Fullilove.  “Come here and adopt some of them.  Catch a plane, catch a train, get in your cars, carpool, I don’t care.  Come and adopt some of these animals.”

Ms. Fullilove, I speak only for myself but I can not catch a plane or a train and come fix your community’s problems at your pound.  But I know who can.