A Fork in the Road

A cat is dangled in the isolation area at MAS.

Matt Pepper, the director of Memphis Animal Services for the past year and a half, has quit.  He leaves in his wake a city pound in turmoil, with one ACO facing criminal charges on multiple counts of animal cruelty, daily webcam images which appear to show needless killing and abuse, and locks on the doors to the stray area where hundreds of dogs languish without hope.

Two dogs, never offered to the public for adoption, are taken from the stray area at MAS to the kill room.

I hope, with all my heart, that the annual slaughter of thousands of healthy, friendly Memphis pets ends here.  I hope the city will seize the opportunity to put in place a compassionate, innovative leader like Dr. Ellen Jefferson in Austin or Bonney Brown in Reno – someone committed to implementing the programs proven to save pets’ lives.

Too scared to walk, a dog is dragged down the aisle in the stray area at MAS.

This is your moment Memphis.  You have a choice.  Please, stop the abuse.  Stop the killing.

An incoming dog is dragged to a cage in the stray area at MAS.


Additional Reading:

Regime Change at Memphis Animal Shelter

Got a Prayer in Memphis?

25 thoughts on “A Fork in the Road

  1. I am hopeful for a future of increased care and respect for the homeless and owner reliquinshed pets of Memphis.

  2. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. I seriously doubt Pepper would have quit without the momentum that started here at YesBiscuit and never let up. There’s hope for a better future for the animals at MAS. Finally.

  3. This is the mayors chance to show he is listening and will bring someone in AND give them the support to clean house from top to bottom. It’s easy to say it was all Matt Pepper’s doing, but the higher ups didn’t help any either. Only time will tell if this will help in any way.

    1. On the bright side, it’s an opportunity for meaningful change. On the other hand, Mayor Wharton squandered his previous opportunity for meaningful change when he replaced the indicted director with one who was killing pets like there’s no tomorrow in Louisiana. Still, I hope.

      1. I’m looking at it as an opportunity as well – for someone who *truly* loves animals to step up and reform the hell out of MAS.

        On the plus side, things really can’t get any worse there.

      2. Can we all decide on one person to recommend to the mayor for the position? Who would you recommend?

  4. I hope, too.

    And Matthew Pepper can be sure that we will be following his career with interest.

    I wonder if the Rotary Club will have input on what’s needed at the shelter?

    1. I agree that Mr. Pepper needs to be followed because we surely don’t want to save MAS from his clutches only to find he is killing them elsewhere…

      1. Btw, I meant the above comment to be sarcastic when I said ‘we’. I did nothing to get rid of the guy!

        I have several concerns…1) Where is Matthew Pepper going to go? Let’s hope his sheltering days are over. 2) With a new director, is the staff going to continue to work there? Or will they be removed to go somewhere else? (Not good either way.) Are those yahoos in the video going to be removed at least? 3) Now that the webcam shot and video of the two dogs may have led to Matthew Pepper’s resignation, won’t this clinch the deal that there will be no public viewing of camera shots at the new MAS facility? 4) How do we get Memphis to choose a new director who is immersed in the No-Kill philosophy?

  5. You know, I’m terrified about what’s going to happen if they decide not to allow the webcams when they move to the new building.

  6. I find it amusing in a dark way that all the apologists and finger pointers are quiet for a change. I can’t be shocked at the kind of people who work at this place, what decent human could work in an atmosphere of utter despair and constant horror without going crazy. The job description must say sociopaths and sadists come on down.Part of me wants to ask Memphis, ARE YOU MAD YET????What the hell does it take? I am hoping they get a blue and adopt the No Kill Solution.
    RIP all you sad scared sweet animals that never had a chance, and to the FOMAS, I say you guys need better friends, and so do the animals of your city.

  7. The pessimist in me says “well its good that Matthew Pepper left; however, with AC Wharton and the staff around, what good is it going to do, especially since Pepper was never around anyway?” but I am going to try really hard to listen to my optimistic side and say “this is a good thing and hopefully we will have a more caring/compassionate director next time”. Please keep us updated on whats next/who’s hired/etc (though Im sure you will).

  8. Where do I apply for the job? I have no expierence in animal shelters but an extensive expierence in sales and I think thats what the shelter needs.

    1. Go for it Elizabeth. Contact Mayor Wharton’s office and ask where the application is posted online and/or where you can mail your bid for the position.

  9. This is where WE can do some good, hopefully. It’s time to write snail mail letters to the mayor with our concerns and the hope that he uses this opportunity to clean house and put someone in the position who can turn everything around.

    We can also ask that he use this opportunity to rethink the Second Chance program and to find more appropriate placements for those individuals.

    Sitting here and “wishin’ and hopin'” won’t make a difference for the animals. Lots of contact – not emails because I don’t think he reads them anymore – just might help.

    I agree with those who share concerns about where Mr Pepper is headed. Hopefully he will decide that animal “sheltering” is not a good fit for him.

    1. That’s right, advocates. Let’s all use 15 minutes of our valuable time for the speechless & tell all of them by snail mail the info they need to make informed decisions. Someone has to read those letters. They’ll know many of us who can write can also vote. Do it!

      1. There is value in intelligent, thoughtful letters to the editors of local papers as well.

  10. I find it very hard to believe Pepper quit willingly. More like forced to resign or be fired. Quit a 92k/yr civil service job in this economy? Hardly likely. Whartons up for re-election soon, no? All the bad press about MAS sure ain’t helping ole A C’s cause. I just wonder what kind of severance package Pepper, the totally useless animal abusing sacrificial lamb got?

    1. I agree. I’m glad to see that not many people are assuming this is a good thing. This is only going to wind up a victory if you believe that Mr. Pepper was the root of the problem, or that the Higher-Ups have somehow seen the light. If you believe, as I do, that the problems are systemic and furthermore and originate from the Higher-Ups in Memphis, nothing is likely to change with a new shelter director unless the prirorities of the Higher-Ups are different.

      I say this as a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. When coaches and players come and go but the results are the same, you have to go up the food chain.

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