MAS Featured in Memphis Flyer

The Memphis Flyer has put together a great cover story on the problems plaguing the Memphis pound.  It’s worth your time to read the entire piece.  Rather than accepting the excuses that no kill naysayers have been offering for years, the journalist challenges the status quo by speaking to pet advocates who know that no kill could become a reality in Memphis.

I’d like to comment on one thing.  The article mentions the webcam shot of the trash can puppies which I posted here.  Then-director Matt Pepper comments on the photo and the post:

“We disciplined that employee, but people said those dogs must have been suffering,” Pepper said. “That was a clean trash can, and somebody took four puppies in it instead of walking them all. It was a stupid decision, but the blog made it sound like he was throwing the puppies into a trash can filled with feces and waste.”

I don’t think that criticism is fair.  In re-reading my original post, I focused on how the litter was surrendered by someone who appeared to care about the dogs and that they were never offered for adoption before being killed.  I said nothing about what else may or may not have been in the trash can besides the puppies.

But now that Mr. Pepper has advised the trash can used to cart the pups to the kill room was “clean” – um, everybody put your hands in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care, I guess?  Point.  Missed.  By a mile.

The needless killing of healthy/treatable pets who are never even offered to the public for adoption is unacceptable.  Regardless of how “clean” your garbage bins may be.  The fact that any of MAS’ employees would look at a litter of pups doomed to die in your kill room and think “trash can” is just sad icing on the misery cake.

Let me know what you think after you’ve read the piece.

23 thoughts on “MAS Featured in Memphis Flyer

  1. “perception versus reality” my ass. I’d like to know more about lawyer-guy looking at the directer’s position. Are you here? Tell us what You’d do……

      1. just looks like a lawyer sent a “cease and desist” letter. Can you name 1 lawyer that HAS NOT sent one?

        I don’t know Kramer but a friend of mine says he does Civil Rights Cases. Which, probably isn’t the best money and he wants to make a change at the shelter, which isn’t the easiest job.

      2. Thanks Patience! Looks like he took a page from Nathan’s books. Maybe there is a tiny little light at the end of the tunnel. Time will tell.

  2. The article was excellent and fair. Pepper made a bigger ass of himself than we ever could have (not that that’s what we really wanted from him). I noticed that the Mayor’s office didn’t weigh in. How consistent of AC to avoid the issue entirely.

    I still want to know how many animals are going to be killed before they move, in order to make the move easier.

    And dammit, I STILL want to know where Kapone is. Can’t we torture Hogan, I mean, if the feds allow it…….

  3. It is all about excuses because they have no reasons. Reasons would imply that there is justification for what they do at MAS. They need to stop the excuses and start making some changes! Perception too often IS reality. I’m glad Pepper is gone…at least that’s a start, Keep the heat on them and maybe they’ll all quit, since nobody is obviously going to be fired. Then MAYBE the illustrious mayor will let somebody who really wants to be there to care for the animals step in and run the place like it should be.

    NO KILL MEMPHIS! I like the way that sounds!

  4. I’m so thoroughly disgusted by this that I don’t even know where to start.
    They should not be putting the strays in a separate place where they can’t be seen. Are they really unadoptable or are they just too lazy to try? I’m guessing too lazy. If they are going to make those type of decisions, that ultimately lead to a death sentence for each dog, the dogs should at least be given a temperament test by a qualified person. Mr. Pepper was not qualified.
    Carrying those puppies to the euthanasia room in a trash can says a lot about how they view these dogs. Expendable, just like trash. These puppies should have been put up for adoption. How hard is it to adopt out a puppy? That’s what most people want.
    I really hope they can become a no-kill shelter, but it’s going to take a lot of work. They are going to have to find a motivated, passionate person to make this happen.
    I wonder if they are hiring.. =)
    Animal advocates are gathering to sign up for the cause Operation Hound Dog. We hope to actively fight what is going on in Memphis and the strength will be in our numbers. If anyone is interesting in signing up, you can view information about it on our Facebook wall.

  5. Matt Pepper totally missed the point.Like you said those puppies were surrendered by that lady hoping that they would be rehomed. Yet them and their Mother never stood a chance. The whole situation within that hellhole is all so very very wrong. Mayor Wharton will not accept any comments on his wall they have all been deleted so questions remain unanswered and the animals once again become the lowest point of concern.Pepper advocated the killing of all the animals that have found themselves in MAS and along with the employees they are all guilty of a unforgiveable crime. Not one of those animals killed deserved to die. No Kill Memphis is the way it should be.

  6. I thought it was a good article. I was especially interested to read of MAS’ utterly incompetent record-keeping, something I’ve suspected must be the case.

    Pepper came across as uninvolved, weak, and full of excuses and lies. As he has all along, really. Sadly, across the board, MAS’s go-to excuse seems to be, ‘We’re not felonious, we’re incompetent and neglectful.’

    1. Yes they continually set the bar at “We don’t LOVE killing pets or actively work at trying to kill as many as possible” as if that is in any way indicative of compassion.

  7. The article was accurate and there was nothing in it that wasnt true, as for Pepper lets face it he is full of bull …. and dont forget gutless. He would much rather apply for another job with probably no webcams than improving the welfare of animals at MAS.

    I have a family member going to Memphis in October and hopefully he will have time to call in to MAS for me. I want them to know that all the way from New Zealand we too are watching and I am not going away.

  8. Matt Pepper isn’t the only one missing the point. It would seem that the bar is set so damn low in Memphis that what is going on at the shelter is ok as long as they’re not being actively raided by authorities at the time.

    That is how Matt Pepper got his job – good resume, good reference from previous employer, ca-ching! $92K per year. It would seem that no one asked, “What can you do to improve our shelter? How do you intend to decrease kill rates? What positive role do you see the shelter playing in our community?”

    And again with the lies about how the dogs in the stray area are “unadoptable” due to illness or behavior (or breed!). Such lazy BS it’s hard to believe he continues to spout it.

    And the crap about cleaning the cages – it’s not “best practices”, but they couldn’t do it any other way. I call bullshit. We all know that it only takes ONE empty cage to do it another way – you start with a clean cage, move the dog into that, fresh food and water, then clean his dirty cage. Move the next dog along into that now clean cage, and so on.

    Alternatively, you could have one worker take a dog out and walk him up and down the aisle while another cleans his cage – give him a minute to stretch his legs before putting him back in the clean cage.

    Oh, but that’s work. And would involve more interaction with the dogs. Wouldn’t want to extend ourselves now, would we? ANY shelter director who allows cages to be cleaned with animals in them is derelict in their duty and should be replaced immediately. It’s a clear sign of incompetence.

    And the handling issue. Do not get me started on the fact that most of the workers seem completely untrained in humane handling practices and move animals like they are radioactive.

    The next shelter director at MAS should be hired by someone who gives a damn. Sadly, I’m not sure that anyone in the upper echelon of Memphis fits that description.

  9. I agree with Mikken.

    As for the article itself, I could have done without this line:

    “Pepper agreed that some of their complaints — accounting errors that led to misinformation on missing dogs and a high euthanasia rate — are valid.”

    A quick reading of this may lead those not totally familiar with the story (or those leaning pro-Pepper) to assume that accounting errors let to misinformation about euthanasia rates. It also kinda suggests that “accounting errors” are the complaint – when in actuality it’s the unknown fate of the dogs in question.

    1. How much do you want to bet that if there hadn’t been a witness, Kapone’s disappearance would have been an “accounting error”, too?

      There’d be a lot less “errors” if they’d use their damn software and photograph EVERY animal that comes in to the shelter or gets on a truck.

      Maybe Memphis can’t go “no kill” right away. But it would be refreshing if they went “no suck” right now.

  10. Letter From the Editor
    There’s a nice story behind the puppy pictured above. She was spotted in a ditch along the Greenline. A caring individual took her home, cleaned her up, and took her to a downtown office. Within minutes, pictures of the puppy were being emailed, posted on Facebook, and sent out on Twitter.

  11. Would anyone know what percentage of dogs at MAS are considered not adoptable due to illness and injury? What does MAS consider too ill and injured to be adoptable?

    Perhaps the average adopter in Memphis would not adopt one of these ill and/or injured dogs but there are rescues both purebred and all-breed that get these dogs from shelters all over the country. These rescues raise the funds so the dogs can get the necessary treatment. I would think that the rescue volunteers who help at MAS would have mentioned this to the MAS staff.

    I am appalled at how MAS cleans the cages. I would become afraid and possibly aggressive of people if someone sprayed me with water. Perhaps the dogs are becoming ill by being wet and cold!

  12. I enjoyed the article, I was hoping for a few more issues to be brought up, one being the volunteer program and the other being the advisory board. These are the 2 areas that are embarrassing and that unions DON’T have their say in. Why are they allowed to be bullies? Why are they appear to ENJOY the fact they animals are being killed?
    It’s hard to bad mouth the staff at MAS when you have these 2 groups/organizations that CAN change MAS, that could change it, that should be changing it but refuse too!! No wonder the staff act the way they do!!

  13. Please pardon me for butting in.

    SOS Memphis, through their Facebook page, shared something very nice and I just positively have to share it with everyone.

    Memphis Animal Services is hosting a greet and meet with all of their Pet Placement Partners and rescue groups. They are sorry for the short notice, but they were hoping to have this in their new facility. Unfortunately, it is not ready for occupancy yet. They would like to take this opportunity to have everyone over and refresh contacts and faces with their partners. Please RSVP with Tracy Dunlap or Glenn Andrews. The meeting is Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 10:00 until Noon. Glenn is the new Interim Shelter Supervisor and is email address is Or you can call 362-5310. Tracy Dunlap’s email is

    1. Thanks Miss Mary. Hopefully by sharing the info here, it will get seen by people like Jody, Kim and others who have saved pets from the stray area but are not allowed to be on the mailing list for the cool kids.

    2. Just FYI, Facebook isn’t allowing any views of the SOS Memphis page beyond the introduction unless you sign in to Facebook. I *think* this is something that can be fixed by the owners of the page, but it’s been yonks since I was on Facebook so I’m out of the loop.

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