Pet Abuse and Killing Trickles Down in Memphis

The Memphis Rotary Club’s audit of Memphis Animal Services ends its summary findings as follows:

The last point is one that is not a problem within the Shelter, but one that impacts it directly, and will continue to cause major obstacles. This is the overriding, community wide issue of Pit Bulls, Dog Fighting, and the attitude that animals are disposable. Until this is addressed, the Shelter will continue to be overloaded, and not logistically capable of approaching any semblance of a no-kill facility.

I could not disagree more.  While I have no doubt that there are some members of the community who view animals as disposable, this is clearly not the “overriding” attitude of Memphians as a whole and, just as clearly, it is a problem within MAS.  If the overwhelming majority of Memphians viewed pets as disposable, why would the community demand justice for the dogs starved to death at MAS in 2009?  Why would so many people show up to speak for the pets at MAS during shelter advisory board meetings (before they were closed to the public)?  Why would local rescuers work so hard to save the neediest dog in the pound while the city fought them at every step?  Obviously there are many caring citizens in Memphis and the city would do well to quit alienating them.  After all, it is the local residents who will make Memphis a no kill community and the city will never be able to do it without them.

As far as these issues not being a problem within MAS, I refer straight back to the rotary club’s own report which details a culture of abuse, cover-ups and failure at the facility.  The city pound is supposed to lead by example.  The best way to change the community’s attitude about dogfighting is for the city pound to stop selling dogs for fighting out the back door.  The best way to change the community’s attitude about pets as disposable commodities is for the city pound to stop literally disposing of pets.  MAS hides the vast majority of its Pitbulls and other strays behind locked doors.  They even removed the webcams which were the public’s only view of the stray areas at the pound.  Behind the iron curtain, MAS mistreats and needlessly kills thousands of Pitbulls and other pets every year.  This is the “service” taxpayers are paying for with their hard-earned money.

And now, taxpayers just bought a new $7.2 million building for the pound which does not allow for the promised standard, humane cleaning practices nor does it house significantly more pets.  City leaders take no responsibility for this epic failure and instead demand that the new pound start generating revenue.  The same staff responsible for the abuse and needless killing at the old building is in place at the new one.  It would be illogical to assume meaningful reform would take place at this new building while the old practices and staffers remain, especially given that the only public accountability – the webcams – have been removed.

If Memphis is to end the abuse and killing at the pound, MAS must take the initiative and lead by example.  Volunteers who bully anyone working to reform the status quo must be removed.  Staff members who sell drugs and/or dogs out the back door must be fired and prosecuted.  The doors to the stray area must be unlocked so that the public can see and touch the dogs.  The webcams must be turned back on so that the mayor’s promise of transparency is upheld.  City leaders must stand up and take responsibility for letting this ugly thing stay in the ditch all these years and resolve to get it out.  And above all, the pound must stop the killing.  Pets are not disposable and the city can not hope to influence the community’s attitude toward animals in any positive manner until it stops putting pets into the dumpster.

A puppy is dragged to the kill room on November 4, 2011 at MAS.
A beautiful Pitbull, never offered for adoption by MAS, is taken to the kill room.
And another...
I'm sorry. You deserved so much better.
You are loved. You are not forgotten.

Memphis, please – stop the killing.

12 thoughts on “Pet Abuse and Killing Trickles Down in Memphis

  1. Horrible treatment of these poor animals must stop. Do they enjoy killing? What cruel people. Someone in that city needs to step up and stop this!!!!! Heart breaking.

  2. They have all of the security footage. Hell, we’ve seen what looked like “dog shopping” on the freaking webcams, so don’t tell me that there isn’t something on the security footage that would allow prosecution of guilty parties. Not to mention all of the records of dogs/meds/supplies that seem to go missing.

    Oh, and STILL NO SHELTER DIRECTOR. No leadership, no accountability, and protection from above for the privileged. Is it any wonder there is cruelty and illegal activities at MAS? The place is run like Lord of the Flies.

    Every single person who was there in 2009 needs to go. What they allowed to happen at MAS is beyond redemption or rationalization.

    Get some leadership, get some accountability, and get the bad apples OUT OF THERE.

  3. Who is responsible for the hiring of employees-either MAS or the City of Memphis or both? How can it not be a problem within the shelter? It starts at the top and it appears hiring the right employees is a big issue. Are thugs/criminals/pitbull fighters/drug dealers the only people MAS can hire? Someone needs to investigate on who has the final say on the hiring of employees at MAS.

    The last picture looks like a cute shepherd/hound dog-how sad!

  4. I agree -the problem is MAS and not the public. The “public” does not even get a chance to step in and help before the dogs and cats are dragged off to the kill room. The sheer lack of human compassion by MAS employees is clearly evident. The dogs deserve better than this. SO MUCH BETTER. Keep up ther fight -this has got to end. New staff and leadership is needed. STAT

  5. I’m hugging my puppy right now about to cry looking at the images here. I have been donating a ton of supplies recently to a no-kill shelter here in upstate NY which pulls about 30 puppies per month from a kill-shelter in TN so I’m wondering if this is the place. What worries me and what I don’t here solutions for is over-crowding in these kill shelters in inner cities. They can’t possibly save them all. What are the solutions to saving the dog from abuse only to then have to save the dog from being killed at the shelter? There is only so much space and so much food, medicine, etc.

  6. Thank you so much for this post. Many of us DO care very much and have been trying to get something done. But it certainly isn’t easy considering what we are up against.

    But we are not giving up and we are not going anywhere. Not now, not ever. MAS can try all they want to bully us, threaten us, badmouth us, whatever they like. WE DO NOT CARE AND WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

    You wanna know why? WE OWN THE BUILDING.


    1. Unfortunately the Petsmart program does not take pits or pit mixes, which rules out most of the dogs at MAS.

      1. That’s as may be, but we’ve seen how MAS is perfectly willing to kill Doxies, Cockers, and all sorts of breeds as well.

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