What Good are the MAS Webcams?

Besides allowing the public to see exactly how pets are treated at MAS, what else have the webcams done?  Has anything good come about as a result of the webcams?  I would offer YES.

Regular readers will remember seeing webcam grabs of Charlotte, the poor kitty being repeatedly poked with a stick at MAS while she was in labor.  After seeing those shots, Meows and BowWows went down to MAS and pulled Charlotte and her 4 newborn kittens.  All the kittens are now in loving homes and Charlotte, who is feral, has been vaccinated, spayed and earnotched.  She will be released, after appropriate healing time from her spay, on the private property of a colony caretaker.

Remember Sam (fka Biscuit), adopted by reader Tammy?  Tammy wrote:

I first saw his picture on the May 10th blog on YesBiscuit called “This is What Needless Killing Looks Like”.  He looked to me to be a sad, white dog.  Seeing him sitting there in the corner cage broke my heart and I posted a comment about finding a rescue group in Memphis so I could adopt him.   The next day Shirley (YesBiscuit) contacted me with the name of a rescuer, Jody, in Memphis that would be willing to get the dog for me.

Read the rest of Sam’s story here.

Sam on his bed, where his boy often covers him with his favorite blankie.

Then there was Ranger whom we saw being carried by a kind ACO on the webcams.  In response to my inquiry about the dog, MAS gave me a few hours to save his life.  Reader Morgana stepped up with an offer to take him at her NY sanctuary and several Memphians helped get him there.  His vet bill for board and treat was paid for by donations from you guys.

Ranger, photographed in the care of Mike Green of Pilots N Paws, on his way to Morgana.

And what about Sweet Jane?  She was another dog I saw on the webcams and she’s now being cared for by a loving foster owner.  Her expenses are also being paid with your donations.

Of course there were other dogs seen on the webcams who we wanted to help but MAS killed them before we could get the chance.  Dogs like Punkin and Mr. Kissyface.  But we tried.  And we only knew about them, like all these pets, because of the webcams.  With the webcams removed, how will we know about any of the hundreds of pets at MAS in need of help?

21 thoughts on “What Good are the MAS Webcams?

  1. Is it just me or is everyone else confused about what is going to happen in this disgusting “shelter?” I heard on the radio yesterday that the “advisory board members would know the best thing to do at the “shelter.” Then the “no cameras” decision. Is this the end of the line?
    I’m beyond horrified at the stand that Matthew Pepper has taken, along with Mayor Wharton with their proclamtions about what the future will be like at this place. I’ve lost all respect for them both….not that they care.
    We know what happens. We saw it. It will continue to happen. What’s next?

    1. They are grasping at straws in order to circumvent certain things. I have yet to find any proof that anyone has literally been harassed or anything like that at all. Even Mr. Pepper claimed that “he thinks” folks have been harassed. He knew just how to phrase it.

      As of right now it is like they cannot cop to what they do. If they do then what will happen is that Wharton will have to admit that the “Ban the Box” and the “Second Chance” whatnot hadn’t any real oversight to begin with. With both of those things, they are folks in (Memphis) public service who claimed to be ones for it for votes because of the demographics of their districts and the like. October will be here soon and as surreal as it might sound, those in public service from Wharton on down cannot do anything to disturb their voting base.

      I actually think that most folks within reason deserve a shot at redemption but I am old fashioned in that I think that those with criminal backgrounds should not work around seniors, children, or animals. Now not everyone who works at the MAS has a criminal background or at least I just hope not. But, when the raid went down in 2009 the Sheriff and everyone claimed they were to clean house like the dickens and all of that. But, a lot of things pertained to re training and the like and I really think that is because they knew that there were some folks who they could not really fire because of what that would bring forth to the surface.

      So. Now the new MAS is going to maybe be the same old same old for all anyone should know. They have not even articulated to anyone about the security cameras and if they will have proper security or not. It took two weeks or so for anyone to “find” the recordings of what Ms. Hogan did. You know what I mean? Things do not look good.

  2. These are beautiful photos, but there should be so many more.
    Hundreds more. And would be if MAS put the webcams back up in the new building and started using PetHarbor or Petfinder to put the adoptable dogs and cats on the internet. I’m no bean counter but my guess is that’s about 90% of the 77% who are needlessly being killed at MAS every year. Some are no doubt too aggressive or sick or injured to leave MAS alive, but MOST of the dogs and cats could be just as safe and happy as the lucky few in these photos. Thank you, everyone who helped them get out of MAS and into loving homes.

  3. So, no webcams mean they get to keep abusing the dogs with chokepoles (that they obviously have not been trained to use) and abusing the cats with the “claws” (ditto). With this kind of animal “services” I think the people of Memphis should DEMAND the transparency the webcams provide. It’s called Open Government Mr. Mayor…LOOK IT UP!

  4. Okay, so if we can’t improve MAS, then maybe the answer is to open a private shelter where people surrendering pets can take them, at least. They may not get the ACO business, but maybe that’s the way to go. At least the animals would have a chance of being adopted.
    I know that means big, big bucks, but we have both a humane society and animal control/shelter in my area. It might work.
    I doubt it, but perhaps that would shame wharton and his pals into doing something (since they have that shiny new shelter that cost a lot of money) FOR the animals.
    Just thinking outloud here . . .

    1. I think getting rid of Wharton and getting someone in who gives a rat’s ass about the animals/people of Memphis (because if Katrina taught us nothing else, it’s that people consider animals part of the family and that animals increase the quality of life for many humans) is the shortest distance between two points.

      Before this whole debacle with the shelter, I had no idea what a mess the city of Memphis is. Now I know. Now EVERYONE knows – people in other countries know. Memphis needs to be turned around and that means proper leadership.

      1. Agreed, but from some of what I’ve learned (I, too, had no clue about Memphis) it sounds like Wharton has enough of a following to get another term.
        People of Memphis, is there anyone else who has the ability to win against Wharton who CAN turn things around?

  5. Wouldn’t be surprised if this is the calm before the storm–an opportunity for Memphis and MAS to clean up their act before they get nailed with one or more lawsuits. And then there’s the coming election . . .

  6. I just read on “Mayor Wharton’s Facebook page that he is going to run for re-election.

    “Join Mayor A C Wharton as he files his petition for re-election on Monday, July 18, 2011 at noon at the Shelby County Election Commission, 150 Washington Ave. I hope to see there”.

    Not enough notice maybe for any MAS supporters to be there also to show some support?

    Say it isn’t so!!!

  7. Exactly! Its so sad that we wouldnt know about them except for the webcams. And Wharton, Pepper et al, just dont care. *Sigh* Im very grateful that we at least got them out.

    Someone above mentioned opening up another shelter, like a humane society, in Memphis that the animals can go to instead. Do they not have any humane societieis or is MAS pretty much the only animal-related “shelter” in Memphis (except for maybe the city pound) ?

    1. There has been a Humane Society of Memphis/Shelby County for a very long while. http://www.memphishumane.org/

      My one personal experience with them was very nice. There was a stray rather feral cat on the loose at one of the parking garages over at the hospital I work for. I was able to tend to the cat and then I called them for help and they were all truly as sweet as could be.

      The Humane Society is actually not really all that far away from where the new MAS is to be.

      1. Thank you, Mary.

        Well hopefully if its not too far away from the new shelter, maybe that will cause more people to go to the HS rather than MAS or something since maybe some people go to the old MAS because its closer than the HS is to them. I know it may not help in animal-control type of situations but maybe owner surrenders. I dont know, trying to look at the brightside.. I know people have their opinions on humane societies, but pretty much anything is better than MAS at this point!

    2. The ‘other’ Memphis Humane Society has been a most useless organization. Over the many years & many times I’ve called on them for help with about as many situations as you could imagine, they have not helped anything in any way, except euthanizing one little blind kitten.
      I donated to them for many years until I realized they didn’t serve anyone. I have no idea where their cats & dogs comes from as I’ve never known them to accept any animal in any condition from any source at any time from anyone, under no circumstances.
      Four days & nights I tried & tried to direct them to an injured doggie. I kept him alive by feeding him until I personally went to MHS & led them to the dog they say couldn’t find. To keep the guy from putting the dog in a carrier an inch deep in piss, I carried the dog with the MHS guy to the vet. The guy & MHS only wanted to “euthanize” the dog. I paid the vet bill on his broken arm to save the dogs life from MHS’ “euthanisia” & kept the dog for another 6 years. Fine job, MHS.
      That was only one of many occasions they have been of no help. Maybe now there’s new management & maybe they do help animals, but that was only my many experiences with them.

  8. I wrote the mayor. He responded:

    Dear Mayor,

    Eyes around the US are watching your shelter and wanting you to reform it and stop the killing. I think hiding and taking the cameras out of the shelter is a big mistake. There should be 100% transparency. If the shelter is functioning properly there is nothing to hide.

    The city could be making a REAL effort to end the killing by follow Nathan Winograd’s No Kill Solution. All of the resources are free and WORK.

    Try that out, and then you won’t have to hide and be defensive constantly at all the killing and atrocities occurring at your shelter.


    His response:
    Thank you for the interest you have shown in the Memphis Animal Shelter.

    I am writing to ensure you are as informed as possible relative to the recent history of the shelter and the progress that has been made there since my election to the position of Memphis Mayor nearly a year and a half ago.

    With most newly elected mayors, their first official day is filled with meetings and multiple orientation sessions with staff and critical personalities within government. My first day was a bit different – it was spent at the Memphis Animal Shelter, where I witnessed a raid of the facility led by the Shelby County District Attorney and the Shelby County Sheriff. Allegations of abuse had been circulating, and this action was taken in an attempt to see if these rumors were true. Currently the case, which involved three employees who are no longer with the shelter, is still pending in the Criminal Courts of Shelby County.

    While I could not substantiate abusive actions – that is still for the court to decide – there was enough mismanagement evident to substantiate an immediate dismissal of the shelter’s administrator. To the contrary, the other individuals involved were civil service employees that tied their dismissal to a progressive disciplinary process and a civil service board that reviews such cases.

    In addition to my dismissing the shelter’s administrator, I appointed an interim operations manager to handle the day-to-day workings and hired a consultant to provide insight on the state of affairs at the shelter. Our concerns about operations and management were validated with our learning that there was a serious void relative to appropriate operational policies and procedures that should have been in place.

    I also had webcams installed at the shelter to provide some measure of access for myself and for those others who were particularly concerned about the facility during this period of transition.

    With an interim team in place and the beginning of an aggressive schedule of training and orientation for employees, we engaged in a national search for a new shelter director. Our many interviews led us to Mr. Matthew Pepper whose experience as a shelter director, as an animal cruelty investigator, and as a trainer of animal control officers was impressive. Most of all, Matt possessed a passion for pets, love for his work, and experience in turning a troubled shelter around.

    Matt was hired as the incoming shelter administrator right at one year ago in early 2010. Since this time, policies and procedures have been implemented that provide clear guidance to employees and volunteers. Training that was virtually non-existent has become a staple of his administration. And for those employees who are not meeting the requirements of their job or who are missing the mark created by the shelter’s procedures, they are being disciplined.

    Evidence of our progress is clearly seen in the shelter’s pet placement rate – the rate of pets leaving the shelter through adoptions and rescue placements with our partners – which has increased by 37.9% when comparing year to date 2011 with the same time frame in 2010. Additionally, the euthanasia rate has decreased from 80.3% in 2009 to 72.7% year to date in 2011. Although this rate is still quite high, it is unfortunately not too far removed from the rate of animals thought to be euthanized at shelters with similar profiles.

    Make no mistake – we are far from resting on our laurels. We are continuing the progress we’ve begun and the positive trends we’ve been able to establish. With over 16,000 animals entering the shelter every year and no right of refusal policy in place, we are challenged by an acute overcrowding issue. We are resolute in doing more to increase adoptions, educate the public on the recently passed law that requires the spaying and neutering of pets, and raising awareness in general regarding the wonderful pets that can be found at the shelter.

    I will say to those concerned citizens who are asking about changes at the shelter, I am hopeful that this information lets you know that positive change remains underway.

    Lastly, regarding the future of the Memphis Animal Shelter, I want to make you aware that we will be moving into a much more spacious facility later this year that will help to alleviate some of the issues we face at the current facility. This will be a major move and step forward.

    Additionally, we will also in the short term be assessing the feasibility of a “no-kill” shelter with the understanding that our ongoing pursuit of the underlying themes and activities of such a shelter – increased adoptions, increased spaying and neutering – will be undiminished.

    Thanks again for your concern.


    A C Wharton, Jr.


    1. In other words he said nothing. He’s talking about a year ago. Old news. What’s going on recently tells me that nothing has changed at that place other than the names of the people involved. Same old same old.

      He wants to continue being the mayor. He has a long long road to travel before he will be worthy of that title.

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