Alleged Wrongdoing Caught on Video Creates an Impression in Memphis

Last week, a video surfaced on YouTube which some believe shows use of excessive force against a man by a group of Memphis police officers.  Mayor Wharton has called for an investigation and issued a statement regarding the video:

In his statement, Wharton said: “I have spoken with Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong and have called for a swift investigation of the incident. Even though no victim has come forward with an official complaint, we are both deeply troubled by the impression created by this video and are moving forward to determine if there was wrongdoing on the part of any of Memphis’ Finest.”

In the case of the police video, Mayor Wharton isn’t waiting for a victim to file an official complaint, he is taking action because he is troubled by the impression the video creates.  Well gee, how about calling for an investigation into what appears to be negligence and cruelty at MAS in allowing two dogs to fight due to mishandling and then beating them with a steel pole?  Any concern there about the impression this video creates?

Of course we already know the answer.  But it would be nice to see Mayor Wharton take an even-handed approach to the appearance of wrongdoing by city employees in Memphis.  Neither of the victims at MAS can file official complaints because they have no voice and must rely on human caretakers to protect them from harm.  That and they were both killed by MAS staff shortly after the beatings occurred.

Please join our letter writing campaign demanding reform at the city pound.  Every pet deserves freedom from harm.


Thank you to my friend John Sibley for helping me with the city’s video footage.

15 thoughts on “Alleged Wrongdoing Caught on Video Creates an Impression in Memphis

  1. Video posted on my Google+ page. This needs more public airplay–what about that Action News reporter from last week?

  2. Thank you for sharing this with the public- I am disappointed the dog fighting video and webcam shots did not/do not get the same attention/caring….very troubling.

  3. ACO’s are moonlighting as police in Memphis now? Or is it the reverse? LOL

    Sorry , I know this is deeply troubling to see that when it involves a PERSON that the outcome is so VERY different from other city employees, but with dogs instead of people. Anytime I see either I get very upset. In BOTH cases we have a “superior” being abusing the ‘being’ they are PAID to provide safety/care for! In both cases you have someone who holds the fate of others abusing that “privilege” in some form. While I DO know that there are *issues* in Memphis – it appears to be across the board and NOT just isolated to the animal shelter!

    We have a city plagued by major superiority complexes – in the form of city employees being paid with tax dollars to provide a service to the residents in that city and abusing the “power” that they weld. I am beginning to think that maybe ALL the city/union employees in Memphis need to take a few courses in anger management and possible counseling for all employees just to make sure that they can perform the job required of them without abusing the power that they hold in their hands. It’s almost like a dysfunctional family where you watch the children continue the cycle of abuse – only here we have it in the form of the city government. VERY, VERY sad.

    Seeing that video of the police and the Mayors reaction to it did 2 things to me – 1) At first I felt positive because the Mayor issued a statement and immediately ordered an investigation and was ‘on the ball’ in this case. 2) After my initial reaction I then started to feel sick to my stomach because I realized the connection between abuse of power involving dogs and that involving humans is handled so differently.

    It proved to me that MAS is really low on the totem pole of priorities in Memphis. I mean, I already knew it – but this was confirmation of just how low priority MAS REALLY is. It just reinforces my thought that MAS needs a really strong Director that can LEAD the charge at MAS. Someone who IS going to be the voice of the animals. Someone who isn’t afraid to stick their neck out for the animals. Someone who has management skills in overseeing a group of people – and understands how to use positive reinforcement to guide and train employees. Someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to the employees and FoMAS to do the right thing for ALL the animals – not just the chosen 30+/-. We NEED to see a strong person put into that position…otherwise we’re just going to keep going around in a circle with all the crap that has been happening. If Mayor Wharton just hires a body that is going to keep the status quo then we will NEVER see change at MAS, especially not when it appears that we have issues at every level of city government in Memphis.

  4. Mayor Wharton needs to take himself to the corner and have a word with himself. He isnt interested in the welfare of the dogs in that shelter he never has been.I have been blocked from his page for asking civilised questions regarding MAS. Not one answer and all the comments or questions were deleted. MAS needs to be investigated for the manner in which it has been allowed to operate. The so called victim hasn’t put in a complaint because he knows he has been rumbled for his role in the ill treatment and murder of the many pets that have found their way into Memphis Slaughterhouse. Has anyone sent any of the footage of animal abuse and handling to Mayor Wharton, he should see what those poor animals have gone through. It is all about being caught red handed. Blood on those people’s hands.

    1. Unfortunately Mayor Wharton HAS received repeat e-mails, calls, letters, etc. and has either chosen to ignore them or argue that there is no wrong-doing taking place at MAS. Right NOW he has a chance to make changes just by putting the right person in the director position. If it were *me* then I’d want to put someone in there that will get the public off my back!

  5. I might be nuts, but what it LOOKED like to me was: The first guy reading the dogs charts (Usually indicating why the dogs were there, and including information about if the dogs are socialized, violent, etc…) Then walking the first dog. It showed no signs of aggression towards any of the dogs in cages, and seemed fine. In the next sequence it showed the two dogs being walked together on leashes (Not leading-poles w/ noose device: Used to protect the employee AND control the animal: This would indicate that neither of the dogs had a violent past…) Both dogs seemed fine for the walk together down the hallway. Then, it appears a fight broke out at the far end. (It did not seem coerced, or instigated) After a few moments of trying to separate the dogs, another employee is CALLED IN to help break it up. Now, perhaps this part is difficult for some to understand, but both dogs seemed to be Bully-breeds (I own a German-Sheppard/Bull Terrier mix) and they can “lock” their jaws when biting. In truth, you can beat a dog half-to-death before it will release. It looked like the first dog had a solid hold of the second, and wasn’t letting go. So they probably panicked, and simply hit it with the pole, in effort to release the other dog. I don’t see “Dog Fighting”. I don’t see cruelty. What I DID see, was an effort to test the social-skills of two dogs, and one dog failed miserably (With the regrettable result being BOTH dogs getting destroyed.) But the sad fact is, if the animals are not tested for socialization, they are not able to be adopted because of the risks they pose to the public… They are often put down regardless.

    Please, in the future, whenever you see two animals fighting (And humans are present) DON’T label it automatically as a “Dog Fight”. The men in the video might not have been properly trained, or have vast experience with animals (But sadly this is the case with most state jobs…) but it didn’t look like a “Crime” was taking place.

    1. “but it didn’t look like a “Crime” was taking place.”

      Only because incompetence isn’t considered criminal at MAS…even in those who are supposedly “trained” in their jobs.

      This was no effort to “test the social skills” of these dogs, Tommy Rabid…this was a routine “haul to the kill room” where the employee decided that it would be ok to take both dogs at the same time. Given that they are then tied to the wall and forced to watch each other die, I suppose that his decision probably seemed reasonable to him at the time. This is what comes from treating living animals as “things” rather than living beings.

      The fact that neither employee seemed to have a clue how to handle the situation except with violence is disturbing. These people are supposed to be professionals with animal handling experience. Key words – “supposed to be”.

      And really, Tommy? Locking jaws? They’re dogs, Tommy, not channellock pliers. Their jaws do not “lock”.

    2. I can’t believe that you just throw in the stupid LOCKJAW MYTH! You own a dog that is a partial bully breed and you believe that they can lock their jaws?!?! I am COMPLETELY astonished and dumbfounded over this.

      I rescue bully breeds and they absolutely do NOT lock their jaws!!!!!! What you are explaining is actually called GAMENESS…the failure to release an item (be it another dog or a toy) because a bully breed is more like a working dog…they are so smart and feel the need to “work” to keep their brains stimulated.

      So PLEASE in the future LEARN about your animal before posting on a blog about the very breed you own! I’m STILL dumbstruck by the comment about locking jaws….WOW!

    3. Why did the ACO not place the one dog back in the cage once they were separated? Instead, he leaves the dog fairly loose leashed and allows the fight to start again. So many ways this particular incident could have been stopped quickly and safely. And most importantly it was completely avoidable

  6. Shirley, the link that takes you to the letter writing campaign information needs to be updated. Matthew Pepper is no longer the Director at Memphis Animal Services.

    1. Thanks for the reminder Jan. While I was updating, I went ahead and checked over the city council members, seeing as there was an election in Memphis last week. The website only reveals one change against the group I had. Is that correct? The city voted only one new council member into office?

      1. Actually, there are no new members of city council. There is a run off election in Nov for a seat that was empty. Everyone else stayed.

      2. There was one change from my list (which is months old) – Swearingen is out and Berlin Boyd is in. Maybe that happened before the elex, IDK. I don’t keep up with local politics in other cities really.

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