Memphis: A Private Trust Betrayed

Much has been said about the betrayal of public trust in Memphis with regard to the city pound.  There is another betrayal of trust which dovetails with that, although this one is far more personal and individual in nature.  It is the betrayal of trust between a pet and a person charged with caring for him.  And at the Memphis pound, that trust is betrayed, repeatedly.

Betrayal of trust: An ACO drags an incoming dog on a chokepole.
Betrayal of trust: A chokepole is used as a weapon against this incoming dog to force him into a cage.
Betrayal of trust: Neither the dogs nor their food are removed from cages while workers hose them down each day.

The bond between people and pets is sacred to most pet owners. But for the city employees, paid by Memphis taxpayers to protect pets from harm, that bond carries with it a mandate from the community: Honor our obligation to provide humane care for the community’s pets. Of course the pets at MAS do not know this. Each individual pet there simply looks to the human caring for him with complete trust, as pets are wont to do by their very nature. For them, it is a personal and instantaneous bond, created in the most trying of circumstances but given freely nonetheless. To my mind, this makes it unique and something to be cherished.

Betrayal of trust: A dog is dragged from a cage to be taken to the kill room. The worker doesn't even glance back to see if the dog has a toe caught on the grated flooring or is too scared to walk.
Betrayal of trust: Dragged to the kill room on a chokepole.
Betrayal of trust: A scared dog pancakes on his way to die.
Betrayal of trust: Two dogs taken from a cage simultaneously. They will be tied to the wall in the kill room and forced to watch other pets die before them.

To the Mayor, the city officials, the MAS staff, volunteers and supporters who are concerned with whitewashing the abuse and killing, I ask you to consider the following.  Every pet at MAS is an individual, worthy of love and protection.  Can you look into the eyes of each of the trusting pets in the stray area, who are kept behind closed doors with no chance for adoption, and believe that they deserve to die?  If you can do that, you are a monster.  You should stay away from pets and all other living creatures for the rest of your shameful existence.  If you can’t do it, isn’t it time to demand change?

Betrayal of trust: A dog from the stray area seeks comfort through eye contact with a worker taking him to the kill room.

This photo is one of the most powerful images captured via the MAS webcams that I have seen.  It encompasses so much of the continuing tragedy that is MAS.  I’m sorry brown dog.  I’m hoping for you – for all of you.

21 thoughts on “Memphis: A Private Trust Betrayed

  1. This is so heart breaking and it must stop!

    My computer is still down, can’t wait till I’m back on line.

    Shared this on FaceBook… I hope it gets more readers and advocates

  2. At the Board meeting it was brought up about hose cleaning cages while dogs were inside. They casually brushed it off & claimed only their feet get wet & food isn’t disturbed. They said only if a steam cleaner was used would dogs be removed from cages & they don’t generally use a steam cleaner.

    I asked why couldn’t a volunteer walk the dog while cage is being cleaned but I wasn’t heard.

    I kept moving closer & closer to the front yet this was the only conversation I could hear at the meeting as everyone spoke quietly. Was that only me?

  3. In the first picture, isn’t that one of the “nice” guys that helped the loose dog the other day, one of the “nice” guys that pet the dog, changed the papers in his cage, and even gave him fresh water? I apologize if I’m wrong. He just looks like one of them to me.

    1. I remember seeing him do that too. I have also seen him stoop down at random cages to visit with a dog. I have watched the cameras relentlessly for the last 4 weeks, and I have to say, anytime there was an abusive or neglectful image captured, he was no where around. It is possible he is in fact a ”nice guy”’. There just has to be AT LEAST ONE ”human” working there. And if he is an animal lover, it’s a shame he hasn’t exposed them. I’m sure if he said anything negative about them, he’d be fired.

      1. You are probably right, Angela. If he is one of the nice ones, maybe this dog had shown some aggression that wasn’t caught on camera and that’s the reason for the chokepole. I sure hope so. He probably is afraid to speak up as I am not one to stir up controversy either, but the abuse and lack of compassion at this pound is one thing that even I couldn’t be silenced about.

        I live in Memphis and I, like the rest of you, am ashamed, disgusted, and embarrassed about this pound. I read an article the other day from the No Kill Advocacy Center called A Primer on the No Kill Philosophy, and I would love for Memphis to be turned into a No Kill shelter. I just don’t know how and where to start as even the mayor of Memphis seems to think the shelter is running just fine and ignores every plea from the public. I wish I knew where and who to turn to.

    2. The man in the first photo is an ACO, not a regular MAS worker. If you have seen him on the webcams previously, it was likely unloading incoming dogs off the truck and taking them to cages since that’s primarily what ACOs are visible doing while inside the pound.

  4. what exaclty has been done to remove these people from this pound? Its painfully obvious AC Wharton was born conscience-less are well as these other human maggots who inhabit this place on a daily basis. But what, other than this blog, is being done to end this? I am merely curious as this place is an eyesore and complaints fall on deaf ears to end the misery being heaped upon the innocents? It would seem that having people at the meeting is having no effects….

  5. So terribly inhumane! It’s so sad to see these sweet animals being treated this way. They look to the humans to take care of them, show them compassion and love. Not going to happen at MAS. Wharton talks a good game but doesnt appear to care one way or the other about whats really happening. Just so long as he looks good on tv. And the furbabies he said he cares about are the ones suffering and dying while he and the board do nothing. Just so heartbreaking and unnecessary!

  6. This is so horrible to look at!!!! ughhh!! there is no reason every animal needs to be choke poled!!!! How many animals on average do they get in there everyday vs. how many are killed? The WORST is that they spray down the pen with the animal and food still there!!!! Are they ever taken out of their cages or they even go to the bathroom in their cages? Is this how all shelters are????

    Did anyone go to the meeting on this shelter the other night? I am up North – thats why I could not attend…I wanted to see if any plans for positive changes are in the mix.

    1. I kept moving closer & closer to the front until I was close to the 2nd row & still couldn’t tell what they were talking about.

      Am I the only one there who couldn’t hear?

      I do know nothing was settled about abuse or killing. As far as I could tell they brushed off each question like there wasn’t a problem.

      Rome is burning & they are fiddeling.

  7. Nothing changes at MAS because your Mayor and his coharts and protectors DO NOT CARE! They see MAS as a thorn in their side and wish it would go away, however, there has to be a city shelter. Having said this it is and always has been the citizens responsibility to vote the unacceptable out of office or have enough civil uprisings at board meetings, campaign speeches, public events, etc. that they come to believe that the citizens do care. What amazes me is that the citizens of Memphis do not seem to know what a “BLIGHT” this atrocious shelter is on the city….rather than be progressive and work toward “no kill” status quo seems acceptable! This has been going on for years! It is a horrible place, It can be changed but it will take involvement, action and hard work! There are many animal advocates in Memphis that work hard to create change….just not enough numbers. Most of the folks here do not even know about MAS!

  8. If the workers ever once would look in the eyes of the animals they treat so callously and kill so cavalierly, they might find themselves unable to do their jobs. What a glorious day that would be! Maybe THEN something would change…maybe.

    The situation at MAS is shameful. The leadership is shameful and pathetic. And the animals deserve better.

  9. A kid passed my house today & asked if I would breed my female Rottweiler with his male. He wanted the puppies. After telling him my female is spayed, he was saying how he wants to breed Rottweilers.

    He had no idea, until I told him, MAS would have all the Rottweilers he would ever want & they kill them relentlessly, just as quick as they do any bulldogs. He has never been to MAS. I burst his bubble when he heard he couldn’t compete with MAS adoption fees.

    I highly encouraged him to adopt from MAS, don’t breed. Sterilized dogs from MAS will hinder his breeding delusions but hopefully save the life of at least one lucky dog.

    His misguided goals of breeding is just an example of many Memphis residents who think it is a money making opportunity without any cost. They are oblivious to health concerns of the animals & possibly don’t have any compassion for them anyway. MAS seems to be unknown at least, unused at most, and many many people have no idea how many good companions are killed regularly. especially folks in my ‘hood’.

    1. Being a Rottweiler owner myself, thank you so much for educating this kid and hopefully saving the lives of many unwanted puppies. I pray he listens to your advice and uses it. We adopted our sweet boy 3-1/2 years ago from the shelter when he was next on the list to be euthanized because of space. They thought he was about 5 years old then. I don’t know what age he will live to be; but when I look back at the 3-1/2 years of happiness he has given us so far, my heart aches at the thought of the life that would have been cut short had we not adopted him. Because of him, I will always adopt from a shelter!!

      1. Leslie/Ez,
        Do either of you know of anyone who would/could save another Rottie? He’s in a no-kill shelter (thank goodness), but really needs a good home. He is in Jackson-Madison County Humane Society in Jackson, TN. He is absolutely HUGE! Biggest Rottie I have ever seen. I could send pix to your e-mail if you want. He appeared to be real sweet and gentle. I took him for a little walk around the shelter. They told me that he was kid and cat-aggressive… He did not even care about the dogs that were barking at us from either side as we walked down the aisle to get outside and he tried to climb in my car when I opened the door to get out my phone to snap a few photos of him. I decided after I walked him, that I would try my best to find him a good home.

  10. I would like to go in there and break every damned choke pole in half! I realize that they have a purpose and a proper time to be used, but they abuse them, constantly. And therefore shouldn’t have them as an option. Period.

    1. Hi Nicci, I don’t personally know anyone that could take him. I was going to suggest a rescue, but a rescue may consider him a liability since he is kid and cat aggressive. Mid-South Animal Rescue League is an awsome rescue from what I’ve seen, and the lady who runs it is a rottie lover. I’m almost positive she is full, as most rescues are, but she might be able to suggest other rescues or maybe even someone looking to adopt a rottie. Do you guys have a facebook page? If so, I would be happy to cross-post his picture and info on some rescue pages.

  11. Nicci:
    I really wish I could save that Rotti. It breaks my heart each time I have to refuse, only because I already have 7 various mixed dogs & the 1 Rotti.

    My Rotti was rescued from a very abusive neighbor, MAS, police & another rescue “society” wouldn’t help her. My only recourse was to buy her. I’ve never paid so much for a dog. After paying they said they were going to take her to the pound anyway. The same people later poisoned 3 of my dogs, killing 2, left the other retarded. Police would do nothing.

    If anyone would rescue Nicci’s Rotti, I will pay half the adoption fee & throw in a box of treats. Save a Rottweiler – be a hero – make a friend for life.

  12. ezbuddy/leslie,
    please e-mail at There’s just a tidbit more to this story (the Rottie), but it’s mostly heresay/rumor (with just a pinch of fact) and I don’t want to stir anything up. If you send me your e-mail address, I will fill you in and perhaps the three of us can work together to find him a home. I am going to call there tomorrow to see if he is still there (they are not open on Mondays).

Leave a Reply