Clarification Needed on New Pound Facility in Memphis

Janet Hooks, director of Public Services and Neighborhoods, recently gave local media a tour of the new pound in Memphis.  I’m hoping readers might be able to shed light on a couple of things, either by chiming in with information, or asking Ms. Hooks for clarification and reporting back.

From the Commercial Appeal:

The tour included a look at the euthanasia room. There are no plans to adopt a no-kill policy at the new shelter, Hooks said.

“The cold reality is that there will be some animals that, unfortunately from a behavioral perspective or medical perspective, will have to be euthanized,” she said.

The no kill philosophy includes an allowance for true euthanasia for pets who are medically hopeless and suffering  as well as vicious dogs who have been deemed a danger to society.  On the face of it, it sounds as if Ms. Hooks may indeed be framing MAS in terms of no kill.  So are there really “no plans” for MAS to stop the killing?

Via Action News 5:

There’s also a holding space where animals can stay in a dry compartment while workers sterilize the cages.

Can anyone verify this?  I have heard conflicting information regarding this claim and in the video accompanying the article, the viewer is not shown this “dry compartment” but rather a blue door in a cage that supposedly leads there.  In some facilities, the dog runs have a door at the back which leads to an outdoor kennel so the dogs can get fresh air and sunshine during the day.  The door is closed at night, with the dogs inside, and during cleaning, with the dogs on the opposite side of whichever kennel is being cleaned.  It doesn’t appear that the new building in Memphis was designed this way.  Anyone have information?


20 thoughts on “Clarification Needed on New Pound Facility in Memphis

    1. thanks for the link. I’m not sure why you didn’t understand the math. I assumed it meant that because of the large number of adoptions and the space it freed up, MAS was able to move 4 dogs off the next day’s euthanization list and on to the adoption list.

      1. If 38 dogs were adopted then there should have been 38 dogs taken off of death row! Simple math.

      2. I agree.. simple math…38 dogs adopted should be 38 dogs off the list.. unless there was only 4 dogs on the list to start with.. right?

      3. The Flyer article is a bit inaccurate. The Friends page stated that 38 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens were adopted at Yappy hour – no breakdown of how many were adult dogs. As far as I can tell from 6 mos of reading it everyday -I also have 2 friends (small ‘f’) who share it with me, the dogs are not generally pulled directly from the stray area . They go into something called ‘healthy hold’ and I have seen where dogs were adopted from this area also.- don’t know how big this is. They have also adopted out more than one dog who was just sitting in the adoption area (watched by a Friend) because there was no cage for them. There are also fosters whose dogs are ready to be adopted. They might have been at YH too. So I don’t know how many cages wound up being empty, but it wasn’t anywhere near 38,

        MAS is doing both on and off-site adoptions today, so I would guess even more will come off the next euth list. But please remember, Sat is also a big day for intake.

        If anyone needs any more numbers, I could try to get a message to a Friend. to find out what I can. Can’t guarantee it though.,

      4. I believe it was 38 adoptions AND 4 others rescued/adopted after coming down with upper respiratory infections.

  1. We should all only be so lucky! Yesterday dogs were taken to the kill room row by row starting at one end and continuing down the list. So many died yesterday. Today there have been more heading to the kr. This is a bad bad place for any dogs and cats.

  2. What makes anybody think that things would change with a new building? They still have the same people working there with the same management. Why in the friggin world do this idiots use the chokepoles so much? There is so much wrong in this Shelter I just don’t know where to start. I work in an Animal Shelter too and in all this time I have not once felt the need to even touch a chokepole.

  3. The “door leading to the outside that can be shut” is commonly called a “guillotine door” because of the fact that it resembles a guillotine. It confuses me why a shelter wouldn’t be designed with guillotine doors in the runs, as this is a very effective way to move dogs back and forth for cleaning/disinfecting. It would be interesting to look at whether the laws for Tennessee have specifications for shelter design. As far as I know, in VA, every shelter is designed with guillotine doors in the dog runs (although not every shelter has indoor/outdoor access). I think in VA it would be illegal to build a dog shelter any other way.

    1. One of the biggest problems with MAS is that TN has very few laws regarding animal welfare and NO laws regarding animal shelters. The state cannot even tell you how many shelters exist in TN, much less what kind of conditions the animals have to endure. When shelter management is left up to city/county gov without state oversight, is it really surprising to see the kinds of problems that MAS has had for decades?

      The TN State Controller’s Office issued a report on animal shelters back in 2008. Here’s a good summary of the findings–

      Read the full report here–

      It’s 2011 and nothing has changed.

      1. I absolutely agree with yoor assessment of TN animal welfare laws. I’ve mentioned them before in some of my other postings, but the local No-Kill organization in my community has a make-shift shelter combined with a thrift store in the same building. At one time, the cats roamed the thrift store, litter boxes placed throughout the store. The cats are now placed in a cat room that once served as storage space. Then there are dogs that are kept in kennels in the basement. A basement that has a storm drain built thru it. In the past, when heavy rains have come thru the area, this drain has overflowed.
        Of bigger concern, is that leadership claims to have unadoptable animals of the organization on his property. Attempts to learn the health and care of the animals has been unsuccessful as the animals are on private property. Whether said in jest or meant in all seriousness, the owner has said if anyone comes to the property, he’ll shoot them. This coming from leadership of a No-Kill organization. What happened to openness?
        Any group that wants to have an animal shelter, should be inspected by the state regularly. To include the animals that are in the care of foster for that organization.

  4. The guillotine doors separate the inside portion of the kennel from the exterior portion. All dogs are moved outside while inside is hosed and vice versa. Also in cold weather the doors may be shut to hold heat in sleeping area

  5. If the county has purchased architectural plans for a new shelter, I would think the plans would be subject to open records. Has anyone tried to see if the plans are available?

  6. According to Bianca Phillips, a writer for the Memphis Flyer, guillotine doors are in fact installed in kennels in both the stray area and the adoption area. She sent me a photo to confirm this. This completely contradicts what the MAS Advisory Board stated at their September meeting, the first of which that has been open to the public since the new Board was appointed. I have written a letter to the editor of the Memphis Flyer which reads….

    Thank you Memphis Flyer and Bianca Phillips for giving us (the public and taxpayers) a tour of the new Memphis Animals Services facility scheduled to open in mid-November. As members of the media, I’m sure you received the red carpet tour from our City officials. I was particularly struck by your mention of the guillotine doors installed in the kennels, which is wonderful news. Having attended the September MAS Advisory Board meeting (the first open to the public since the appointment of the new board in June of this year), this information contradicts what was publicly stated by the board. One of the concerns raised by an attendee at the meeting was the current MAS practice of hosing out kennels while the animals are still in them. The question was asked of the board whether the new facility would provide an alternate location where the animal could be placed while the kennel is being cleaned. The answer was NO. In fact, board member John Cox, stated that the guillotine doors (allowing an animal to be removed from one side of the kennel while it is cleaned with a water hose or pressure washer) had been scratched from the original plans due to monetary cuts in the project. Ironically, none of the City representatives present at the meeting disputed this. Perhaps Ms. Hooks should also schedule a special tour for the MAS Advisory Board and her staff!

    It is also noteworthy to understand the process by which the public and taxpayers must go through in order to submit a question or comment to the Advisory Board. Comment cards asking for name, address, phone number, email address and comment/concern were distributed to attendees prior to the meeting being called to order. Once the board completed discussing its agenda items, Dr. Stephen Tower (Chairman) and Jeanne Chancellor (Board Member/Friends of Memphis Animal Shelter) scrutinized the cards (whispering amongst themselves), and then hand selected those they would allow to speak.

    My point here is twofold. First, after attending the MAS Advisory Board meeting, I walked away with the sense that I had been inside the spin zone. The board (and City representatives) seemed to be more focused on the “image” of MAS, rather than the animals and the atrocities that many have and continue to suffer. They did their very best to stay away from the issues that attendees were most concerned about – the manner in which the animals are being treated at MAS. To learn now that they gave those in attendance the wrong information about the kennels in the new facility creates further suspicion that anything else they say can be considered factual.

    Secondly, while there is every reason to be proud of this new facility, it takes more than brick and mortar to provide a “shelter” for animals. It takes compassionate human beings who can work together for the greater goal – drastically reducing the kill rate at MAS by doing everything possible to promote spay/neuter AND adoption while treating these animals with the dignity and compassion they deserve as God’s creatures. A good start would be to reopen ALL Advisory Board meetings to the taxpaying public. Instead of hostility and closed doors, imagine what could be done if we could all work together!
    The board and the city representatives need to start treating taxpaying citizens with respect. It is not respectful or right to screen questions asked by the public or to decide who can speak or not speak. This right is provided to us by the Constitution of the United States and the City of Memphis and its representatives have to comply.

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