Memphis Flyer Writer Pwns the Whiners

Remember the great article about MAS that appeared recently in the Memphis Flyer?  One of the “Friends” wrote in to complain about it in a letter to the editor.  Among the complaints are that Memphis is not like Austin (which is true – Austin must work a lot harder to maintain no kill than Memphis ever would have to) and that the writer didn’t interview the “Friends” for the piece.

The author responded:

An attempt was made to contact the volunteer coordinators at Friends of Memphis Animal Services, but there was no response. I did interview a couple of volunteers for the article, but they mostly complained about the volunteers’ relationship with Friends of Memphis Animal Services. Without a response from the Friends group, I could not run any quotes from those interviews.

Oh.  Oh dear.  So apparently she not only got blown off by the “Friends” on her interview request, but she also gave them the generous courtesy of not quoting the volunteers who went on the record as being bullied by the group.

Then the “Friends” publicly complained that they weren’t interviewed.


36 thoughts on “Memphis Flyer Writer Pwns the Whiners

  1. I saw this ‘exchange’ and found it interesting as well.

    Would like a little more insight, why do you believe Austin has to work harder at no kill than Memphis would ever have to?

    1. Two cities, similar in population size but Austin takes in 20k – 25k pets a year. Memphis takes in 16k. Austin had a director in place who was committed to killing and had the support of the ASPCA. That person first had to be ousted. Memphis has no director – an opportunity to bring in someone committed to lifesaving.

      1. I hope I don’t word this wrong, but I would be interested in knowing what the average income is in Austin vs Memphis. I’m not saying people with less money can’t afford pets (Hell, I’m poor!) but there’s still something to be said for having enough money to take care of an animal..

      2. If you decide to Google that, you can let us know. I generally refrain from characterizing the ability to care for a pet based on income. People of all income levels want to love and be loved by pets and will do what it takes to have one. Or more, as in the case of this poor person.

      3. I don’t like generalizing either, but someone who makes $60k is in a better position to pay for emergency vet care than someone like me who makes half that. I’m not saying that Mr Moneybags loves his pet more – quite the opposite. However with my rescue we receive countless surrenders because people just dont have the money to pay for expensive surgeries. On the other hand, you have people will sell everything they own to make their pet healthy again. But you can’t tell me that income plays no role in taking care of pets.

      4. I wouldn’t argue that it plays no role. I would argue that in a community where the municipal shelter is killing 3 out of 4 pets, the criteria for an acceptable home should be “Would this pet be better off w/these folks than DEAD?” I could not afford to pay for an expensive surgery for a pet. *touch wood* that’s never been an issue for me. I would do anything I could to raise the funds if my pet needed an expensive emergency surgery in order to live but I may not be successful. I certainly hope no pound would hold that against me in considering me for adoption because, most likely, it’s never going to come up.

      5. @yesbiscuit and mel

        per 2009 estimated household/per capita income

        Austin: 50,132 / 29,233

        Memphis: 34,203 /19,388

        population (city only) 2010 census;
        Memphis:646,889 (down 0.5 pc since 2000)
        Austin: 790,390 (up 20.4 pc since 2000)

        both metro areas around 1 million

        sorry if this has already been checked and not posted; I can never resist a good Google search

      6. While I don’t have ‘exact’ numbers – in my search for a cost of living comparison to where I live now (Columbus, OH) things are pretty much comparable to where I live. My local AC&C stats are quite different from MAS though. They have a 38% euth for illness/advanced age/unsafe temperament, 9% were owner requested euth, and 53% were ‘saved’ (adopted, RTO, pulled by rescues, or transferred to another shelter). So I KNOW that MAS CAN change. My local shelter does over 16,000 calls per year (on average)….and of the dogs PTS 46% were pit bull type dogs. My local AC&C is definitely No Kill by any means – but they still manage to reunite animals with owners, have adoption friendly hours, do bi-weekly program called “Mingle with the Mutts” at the shelter where not only animals in the shelter, but also rescue groups are involved in this program. It has resulted in a huge increase in adoption rates compared to stats prior to starting this bi-weekly adoption event. Compared to Memphis we have similar numbers of residents and cost of living. The difference is that our shelter actually posts pets for adoption, has a lost & found pet page – and our ACO’s are willing to meet people on off hours to reclaim their lost dogs. I know because I had an escapee one time and tracked him down to the shelter – he needed meds and I was VERY worried about him. When I called they were just closing up for the night and one of the ACO’s offered to stay there until I could get there to get the dog (1 hour). It was above & beyond what I could have hoped for.

        My point is that even shelter that aren’t No Kill and are VERY similar to MAS can do better than a 77% kill rate. It’s all in who’s in charge and how much freedom the city officials grant that person in running the shelter. I don’t know how MAS does it but any incoming funds from adoptions and fund raising goes straight to the shelter and stays there to be used for the animals. So even if we dont’ push for No Kill – MAS can & should be doing better than they are. It’s a lack of caring from those in charge that are causing the problems @MAS.

  2. Hmmm- Eleanor Gibson?! Isn’t she the one who stalked a a man who posted on FMAS FB page- she didn’t like his post so she went to his place of business to complain to his boss?! Isn’t she the one who told a volunteer that wanted to bring her daughter with her (over age 18) to the volunteer orientation that she needed more “diversification” (her daughter is a 20 + yr old white woman) and they had too many “like her” already coming to the class. Let’s consider the source – her letter to the editor is a joke!

    1. Really?

      It never ceases to baffle me – how these people have SO MUCH time and energy and resources to defend these practices.

      I’ve had it up to here with the suggestion that those of us not hands on involved at MAS are somehow less entitled to an opinion.

      It doesn’t take a musher to know that what happened in Whistler was wrong. And it doesn’t take a member of FMAS to stand up and identify the litany of wrongs screaming out of MAS.

  3. Most reputable rescue groups gag at the though of “Friends” who in a lot of occasions play strong favorites and sometimes active obstruct the work of the rescue groups who do not agree with the shelter policies and to not “kiss up” to Friends.

    1. “actively obstruct the work of rescue groups” is one way of saying it. Another way would be “actively add to the number of pets needlessly killed at MAS”.

      1. What do they do to obstruct? Can’t you report them and get it changed? Surely if they are being abusive to rescue someone can do something! What the heck to they do?? Have not heard that one before.

  4. I hope her attempt to contact them consisted of more than her commenting on their Facebook page.

    An interesting article. I’m sorry that this is what they’ve decided to concentrate on in the LTTE.

  5. Yes. Also Director Hooks refused to be interviewed. I wrote the writer and asked why she did not state that Hooks and the Friends either did not respond or refused to be interviewed.
    I wish the statements of the volunteers she heard from had been expressed and then she could have stated the Friends did not respond to her attempts.
    An opportunity lost to say the least.

  6. I have been following some of this Memphis Shelter activity. The Friends group may have their shortcomings, but who else is actively working to get the animals and their information out to the public? I never seen anything anywhere. If it were not for their Facebook page who would be working for the animals to get their faces and information out there? Whatever their problems are, at least they are putting the animals’ information out there. Is there somewhere else this information is being given? Would like to look at all the outreach going on for that shelter.

    They seems to be the ones sponsoring special events at the shelter from what I can tell. What other group is helping in these ways?

    Please post other outlets for information about the pets there. Have found a Petfinder site, and it mirrors the information on the Facebook page so assume they do that too. What other outlets are there?

    1. There are plenty of rescue groups working to get animals from MAS pulled and adopted. Some of the criticism of the Friends is that they do not use all the resources available to them in getting info out there. I agree with this.

      This is not a condemnation of the Friends and what they do. I am only writing this because I am anticipating the other responses you will be getting on this.

    2. MAS apparently forces volunteers to sign away their First Amendment rights (which actually they can’t do) when they sign up to volunteer. The flow of information is strictly controlled. Anyone who colors outside the lines is shown the door post haste. The “Friends” are towing the company line, enabling the killing, and therefore have the blessing of MAS to disseminate extremely limited info.

      1. Sorry but the right to free speech has limitations. For example, when one signs a non-disclosure agreement. Libel, national security and public safety limit free speech. One might say being placed on moderation limits free speech. But even I know that’s not true.


        signing off (moderately, of course)

      2. “Friends” could be doing so much more. They could be taking photos of every animal that comes in, entering info into Chameleon, working with staff to ensure clean cages and humane handling practices, working to market the animals so much better/more, networking with rescue groups (particularly breed rescues) to help save some of the unseen dogs in the stray area. They could even be helping with pet retention, helping with food, behavior modification, education, etc.

        I know that there are some good people in the FoMAS group, but it seems that their leadership is not willing to step forward and advocate for the animals. Why that is, I do not know. They have power at MAS, they simply won’t use it.

      3. I agree with Mikken…FoMAs could do a whole lot more – like actually let volunteers volunteer instead of running people out the door that care enough about ALL the animals that they try to get adopted. FoMAS focus on the select group of potentially adoptable dogs (in their eyes). Honestly, I think FoMAS is a big part of the problem at MAS. For a group that is supposed to be there to assist the shelter they don’t’ do a very good job. Sad really when you think about it.

  7. And Eleanor’s letter…
    I was interviewed and have adopted two sweet dogs from MAS. Actually saw her there the morning I was there adopting them.
    I, unlike Eleanor, understand there is more to MAS than the shelter. I have spent numerous hours over the last four years ovserving the animal cruelty court cases the MAS ACOs charge. I have never seen Eleanor, or any Friend for that matter, in court supporting the officers in their duties. Yet I have spent time as a volunteer photographer at MAS a few years ago and participated in the volunteer orientation conducted by Tracy Dunlap but was never contacted to actually volunteer.
    It is rather hard to volunteer when you attend the class and even after repeated calls are unable to volunteer.
    Oops…and forgot to mention my many hours volunteerinh while serving on the MAS Advisory Board.
    MAS would benefit if Eleanor and the rest of the Friends would think of the entire picture and not just the shelter.

    1. @Cindy
      I have seen you in court and appreciate the work you do there, as well as the work you and Jackie Johns do to try to stop pit bull fighting in Memphis.

      But I would like to ask you, did you mention to Bianca Phillips your support of the MAS ACOs who do show up in Judge Potter’s court every week, on time and prepared? I know you have in the past but the only thing I read about in her article were the two officers who came late.

    2. How often does Eleanor go visit local rescue groups to help them care for the animals they saved from the shelter? Does she expect the people who are spending all of their free time rescuing to quit their jobs so they can volunteer at the shelter as well? There are only so many hours in a day and people can only do so much. Just because people aren’t at the shelter physically, it doesn’t mean they are not making a difference. She says the people interviewed haven’t adopted a pet from the shelter…maybe they adopted a pet from a rescue who saved them from the shelter instead.

      How often does Friends make posts about local rescue groups promoting them to their 7,000+ fans? Have they ever asked for donations for the local rescue groups so that they can afford to save more from the shelter? Is she active in trying to get animal laws changed? I’m assuming that she doesn’t have time to do ALL of these things. Just like everyone else. There is more to saving animals than being at the shelter. Some people are not emotionally capable of seeing so many animals that are about to die. Its not just any and everyone who can deal with that.

      My volunteer application has been ignored. So have my countless emails and phone calls. How exactly are people supposed to volunteer? Take someone at gunpoint?

  8. Actually Bianca was in court that day as an observer… we did not say anything to her…she witnessed it for herself…also the MPD officer who sat in court waiting for the ACO to arrive one and a half hours late.
    I always compliment the ACOs who do their jobs.
    The mention of those two officers was the result of the writer’s own observation and the fact the prosecutor mentioned one of the officers did not show at all the previous week. I think that brought it to Bianca’s attention.

  9. I heard today that there is privitization being worked with Nina Wingfield from the Collierville Shelter being head with Dr. Rebecca Coleman who is the shelter vet now. Not sure how credible it is as evidently the reason they can’t get a second vet is no vet in Memphis will work with Dr. Coleman. But i did some research and Collierville did just hire someone under Wingfield who could take over that shelter. A man from the Humane Society went to Collierville under Wingfield. Wingfield was at the Memphis Humane Society for a while. Anyone know how she did there and if she supports No-Kill??

  10. Matthew Pepper has arrived at his new job here in New Mexico, earning $90K annually to deliver a repeat of his failed tenure at MAS as Director of Bernalillo County Animal Care Services. Our concerns have been voiced ever since we first learned of the hiring and like Memphis’ elected officials and MAS board, our concerns for the animals, our community or our tax dollars don’t seem to really matter. Comments to a recent ABQ article have been submitted (awaiting moderator approval). Your input would be appreciated.

    With thanks,
    No Kill New Mexico and New Mexico Pets ALIVE!

    1. Sad world we live in where one makes 90 grand for sucessfully killing animals while others that save life are paid nothing & still give their monitary support to others who save lives.

    2. Do you have a direct link to the article, or could you post it on here. It won’t allow me to open it unless i ‘subscribe’ to it…… I would relaly like to see it – I was under the impression that Pepper was going to go back to being an ACO, not director. If he IS the director you can expect similar results as MAS and Caddo-Parish…sadly the real monkey in all of this is moving around to continue his string of killing. Very sad indeed.

      1. Erica, it’ll give you a free trial pass (although you have to tell it twice before you get through) so you can see the article. I responded to it days ago and either my comment was moderated or deleted because I’m not a subscriber? Either way, it didn’t go through…which is too bad because I was not inappropriate at all, just stated facts.

  11. I have nothing polite or nice to say about any of the friends. They have hurt my feelings, single me out, belittled me, ignored me, deleted blocked and banned me. So no I’m still just in it for the animals, not to meet some cool people that I share stuff incommon with.

    1. Kim- sadly I have to say I doubt you DO have anything in common with FoMAs – you actually CARE about the animals…..

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