Oh My Stars – Memphis Mayor Off the Rails

OK, fine – my administration sucks.



at least I’m not a big doo-doo head like all you guys!

Read Mayor Wharton’s epic stupid.  Here are the lowlights:

  • Sure, one of the Memphis ACOs has been fired after being charged with animal cruelty but the irresponsible public and spay-neuter and BLAH!
  • Memphis Pitbull owners are gangbangers!
  • People are driving their unwanted pets over from Arkansas and Mississippi because MAS is the only open admission pound in the mid-south!
  • The other dumbass shelters in the region are all “boutique” joints that won’t take pets with missing limbs so MAS has to be the hero!
  • Eleventy!!!!!!!1111111111!!!!!!!!!!!

35 thoughts on “Oh My Stars – Memphis Mayor Off the Rails

    1. I was going to say exactly the same thing.

      “We take everybody,” said Wharton. “These little boutique shelters around the country that have all of these rules: We won’t take three-legged dogs, we won’t take dirty cats, don’t take unless you live there. If an animal shows up, we take it.”
      -right to the kill-room.

  1. Here is the Mayor’s response to a recent inquiry about the happenings down at MAS. I wonder how much he paid a PR firm to come up with this?

    Sent: Sun Jul 17th, 2011 4:17 PM CDT
    Subject: RE: MAS / Kapone

    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. Is this a form letter from several months ago I wonder? I notice he says Mr. Pepper was hired exactly a year ago.

      Relieved to know they’re not resting on their laurels. Cos that would be a really uncomfortable place to rest, being all barren-like.

      1. Isn’t this the same letter that I forwarded to you?
        PR firm, indeed!
        This ain’t Mr Mayor talking . . .

    2. I think this must be old.

      Otherwise, why would he say, “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. “? Given the fact that the “interim operations manager” was Demetria Hogan (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/public-shelters/article/1092).

      The Mayor is upset about lack of spaying/neutering – ok, where are the low cost programs, the educational materials, the PSA’s promoting spay/neuter? It takes a carrot or two, Mr. Mayor, not just the stick of MSN laws. But a real leader would know that.

      Oh – and if you want adoption rates to go up and intake rates to go down? Make ALL of the animals available to the public, not just the “lucky 30” dogs and whatever cats happen to be alive that day. Get some fostering programs in there, get some training programs in there, get a retention counselor.

      Oh – and you know what else would help? TRAIN STAFF TO PROPERLY USE AND IMPLEMENT THE SOFTWARE THAT THEY ALREADY HAVE AND GET A PHOTO OF EVERY ANIMAL THAT COMES IN THE PLACE. That way, cage cards are more useful to staff and people can look at animals online. Maybe they can even find their lost dog online and streamline the reclamation process, saving time for staff and getting more animals out of MAS alive.

      Don’t tell me Matt Pepper is doing a great job – he’s not. If he were, he’d be dropping those kill rates, working with local and regional rescue groups, getting a picture of EVERY ANIMAL online via PetHarbor/Petfinder, teaching staff not to hose down live dogs in their cages, teaching staff not to mishandle animals, following recommended guidelines in the kill room, getting volunteers/prison programs going to have dogs walked, trained, socialized, etc. His resume may have been good (although the kill rate at his previous shelter makes me question that little tidbit), but his current actions belie his ineffective and weak leadership. Unless you were looking for a large scale pet exterminator, that is. In which case, carry on because he’s doing fine.

  2. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, Mr. Mayor! No doubt that is a form letter from a PR firm.

    He’s up for re-election so he will put his own “spin” on anything. What a jerk.

  3. You are so funny!!!!!!!!!! I saw that article. BLAH!!!!

    I do have to say though that there *are* people in Memphis who want pits only because they are “status” things. Thugs who walk around with them because its cool. People who tie them up in the yard to a tree, who say they are ‘guard dogs’, etc. Case in point, the lady who picked up her pittie puppy at the pound that day I was there, and was all like “I need a VET? What I need a VET for? I dont have no VET!” I can guaran-damn-tee you that dog will not be taken care of and was adopted only for “look i’ve got a pit bull, ain’t I cool” purposes.

  4. Is Wharton six kinds of stupid, to parrot whatever was written for him (‘cuz I’m sure he knows squat about AC, shelter, no-kill, etc) and think it would fly?
    Bad move, AC. Now you look stupid as well as uncaring and utterly lacking in compassion.

  5. Ugh, I am a Memphian and I used to think that AC was a better mayor mayor than Willie H (who was a complete lunatic with a ego and NO love for animals). Now I am not so sure, since I am now classifed as a “gangbanger” with my bully mix ( who would rather lick you to death and beat you with his wagging tail). Memphis does have a HUGE problem with spaying and neutering, just look on our craigslist ads. For instance, we had a guy put in a application for my foster dog, His old “family” dog had died of old age, he never got her fixed cause “he just never got around to it” and he thought she had some “pups” while she was livin’ outside alot. This dog was 15 when she died. It’s this thought process that makes me see red.

    I want to hear what AC’s doing to fix the shelter, the staff, the training, city education for spay and neuter programs, not just a bunch of finger pointing and political b.s.

  6. Ok, I admit to being geographically challenged at times but why would some one drive a dog or cat across state lines to turn the into animal control ??? With the price of gas these days? That makes no sense … but hey apparently that’s why it’s called Memphis.

    1. There are areas of Mississippi and Arkansas which are really close to Memphis. That is why the overall area is sometimes referred to as “The Tri State” area of the Mid South.

      What I notice is a lot of unverified blame being placed on the MAS as a whole and that is just cowardly.

      I also more than remember the MAS as well as the Rape Crisis Center being two city run entities which hadn’t any real oversight until the proverbial poo poo hit the fan to a downright criminal degree. A portion of that stemmed from a lack of a thing or two with the city’s human resources department and the like under Herenton.

      By now. Wharton could have cleaned house with the MAS. Why he is literally incapable of doing so is just obviously indicative of his feeling compelled to cover up things under Herenton as well as with the “Ban the Box” nonsense and the “Second Chance” program to a downright criminal and unholy degree.

      My question is still why. Why can he not just take the bull by the horns and tend to the MAS? What is the root cause of his inability to tend to things? I have already stated that I have a very deep feeling as to what it is and if Wharton truly “went there” the repercussions would be far to much for him to handle during an election time but all of this was brought to a head when he just entered office.

      So what is the deal?

      1. Far as I’m concerned when there are people in these situations – either they are too stupid to know (what’s going on or how to fix them) or know but choose not to do something. So, he either can’t or won’t. Either way, the animals and citizens of Memphis lose.

    2. While I’d like to see some actual numbers to back up Mr. Wharton’s claim that dogs from AR and MS are also being left at MAS, it is entirely possible that they are receiving animals from MS and AR.
      Memphis is very close to the state border with Mississippi and may actually be the closest location with any shelters for a lot of folks. Tunica, MS has a small no-kill (yay!!!) shelter. But for some of the rural areas near the MS/TN border, there just may not be a whole lot of other shelters around.

      And I imagine that there are more than a few folks who think Memphis = Big City = More Potential Homes. But that only works when there is a concerted effort by the shelter to reach out to those potential homes.

      I’m reluctant to criticize any of the efforts of the volunteers (whether FoMAS or a rescue group or any other volunteer) because they *are* trying and they are re-homing animals…even if we’d like to see more done on their behalf. Without these volunteers, the animals of MAS would have precious few advocates. What I’m wondering is if there is any single paid employee at MAS whose responsibility it is to let the Mean Old Public (aka Potential Homes) know what animals are in their facility. Other than “urgent! need out in 2 hours!” messages that are sent to rescues and reposted on FoMAS FB page, I’ve not seen anything.

  7. Just when you think it cannot get any worse – and this is his positive side because this week he is announcing his plans to run for re-election!

    We need some serious outside help here! It’s like watching a mafia movie – but it’s real!

  8. “one little animal shelter is supposed to rush in and solve all the ills of society”

    Ha, that’s my favorite line. If that were true, I’d say we’re severely underfunding animal shelters – they got a big job, fixing all of society’s woes!

    Besides, he coulda just visited the website of MAS: “protecting people from the dangers and nuisances of uncontrolled animals and keeping animals safe from mistreatment and abuse.” (the latter part excepting MAS itself, of course!)

    Don’t think that entails fixing poverty or stopping illicit drug use!

    What a douche-canoe.

    1. Nah, Marji, my favorite line is: “We, the City of Memphis, will not be able to ever build a shelter large enough or hire enough people to correct this situation,” he said.”

      Yah, our point exactly Mayor. You don’t need a new shelter or more staff. Just implement the Nokill Equation like all the other open-admission shelters that have successfully gone no-kill.

      None of the ten steps involve a new or expanded shelter or hiring more staff. He doesn’t get it, he just doesn’t get it on a fundamental level.

  9. Mr. Wharton: Get ready to lose your re-election.
    Signed: one of the gangbangers.

    1. IOh I didnt catch that at first Valerie! LOLOL!!

      “We will stand up and take responsibility for our shortcomings, but when will this region?” asked Wharton. “And I say region because we take in pets from Arkansas and other counties in Mississippi.”

  10. He is such an idiot! The Shoups are no where near being gangbangers & I should know from knowing them for so many years. See thats the problem with Mayor Wharton, he like to STEREOTYPE people! UGH

    1. My god mikken – there are gangbangers walking up and down the streets with their intact dogs on chains, dropping puppies every 3 feet and you want to know what MAS did with someone’s beloved pet?! How can you be so insensitive at a time like this?!

      1. I know, I’m sorry. I just think…you know…that maybe someone in charge should…should…you know…maybe…pursue the matter? Just in case the dog is still alive and savable?

        I know that SOP is to wait a few weeks before we take any action or start to investigate, but surely enough time has passed by now?

  11. Apparently, MAS must be overrun by animals with only 3 legs. WOW what you learn by reading what the Mayor of Memphis has to say. LOL

    I still can’t figure out why the administrator of MAS would allow a know criminal to administer/handle drugs that can kill.

    He should be fired.

  12. I’m disappointed that there aren’t more comments on that article. Beyond that, the major sounds like a typical politician…he passes the buck and doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything. The speed of the leader and all that… It’s easy to see why MAS has the problems it does after hearing their illustrious leader.

  13. Take your comments to the article and post them. Make up an e-mail address to use so you don’t have to register..

  14. Wow, googling for just a few seconds turned up at least three other open admission shelters in TN, and some in both AR and MS as well. Odd that nobody else can find those.

  15. Correction and clarification of my last comment – you can post on CA using only your e-mail address and skip the registration process. Registration usually results in a ton of spam.

  16. If the Mayor would have added an apology to the citizen of memphis whose dog fell victim of the employees of this place it would have been much better….I hope the Mayor realizes that it is the citizens of Memphis who are having to pay the price of the poorly neglected and managed city shelter…We are the ones who have sufferd all these years that this has been going on….We are the ones facing the issues that have failed us and our own animals day to day every day….Because we live here …and it has been our dogs that we have tried to save from harm….and it was us that were let down when we made a call to the shelter and it failed to carry the call all the way through..or the laws just werent in place..We have had to pay the price and it has made us shed real tears of pain and misery….We see the suffering……And we suffer the loss……..And we have the need for the urgency for action…….

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