On Saturday, September 24, 2011, Alice Zalon took 2 dogs – one a foster dog called Pretty Girl – to a Memphis area dog park for some off leash time. Unfortunately, Pretty Girl was lost during the outing and search efforts by Ms. Zalon were fruitless. The dog was wearing 2 collars and a current rabies tag at the time. Since MAS was closed the next two days, Ms. Zalon had to wait until Tuesday, September 27 to visit the pound to look for Pretty Girl. In the meantime, she continued her efforts to find her.
Ms. Zalon did not see Pretty Girl during her escorted trip through the pound on September 27. She returned for additional escorted searches at MAS on September 30, October 4 and October 7.
The following post reportedly appeared on the “Friends” of MAS Facebook page on October 4. Someone who saw one of Ms. Zalon’s “lost pet” ads saved the post in order to share it with her since the person thought the dog looked like Pretty Girl:
Tillie is calling your name! This is the cutest smiley dog!! Tillie came into the shelter as a stray so she needs a new home. She has the best smile every. Tillie sits and downs the minute she smells a treat and we could not get a picture of her up! She would get up, and the minute she thought we wanted something “plop” down she goes! Tillie’s id number is 232874, and she is waiting in cage 11. Tillie is listed as a Rottie x, but there is lots of other mix in there. She is a good medium sized girl, that that big. Please come in and meet Tillie! She would love to see you and give you a big smile!
Ms. Zalon did not see this post – as she is unable to access Facebook at work and doesn’t have a computer at home – and only heard about it from the person who had saved it. By that time, MAS had reportedly killed Pretty Girl.
In trying to figure out what happened, numerous questions arose. What happened to Pretty Girl’s rabies tag? Why was Ms. Zalon never shown her dog on any of her 4 visits to MAS? Why was Pretty Girl killed? Ms. Zalon was told by a staff member that Pretty Girl had started exhibiting cold symptoms after she was offered for adoption, was transferred to cage 900 and killed.
The pound’s records only add to the confusion. The records indicate Pretty Girl was picked up very near the area where she went missing (she was lost at Gate 12 of the dog park and picked up at Gate 11), on the same day she went missing, and placed in cage 533. She received two exams at the pound, the results of which are listed as “normal”. Pretty Girl’s kill record states she was killed for “space”. There is no mention of any upper respiratory infection.
Even more troubling, if Pretty Girl was in cage 533, then cage 11, then cage 900 – why didn’t Ms. Zalon see her on any of her 4 escorted tours through the pound? Surely people who come in to search for their lost dogs are allowed to see all the dogs MAS has in its possession, including cages 533, 11 and 900. And since MAS does not walk the hundreds of stray dogs in its care, it seems extremely unlikely Pretty Girl was out being walked during each of Ms. Zalon’s 4 escorted tours of the facility.
Sadly, the truth about what happened to Pretty Girl may never be made public. I am reminded of the rotary club report which indicated that dogs were being sold out the back door at MAS. Division director Janet Hooks was asked about this issue at a city council meeting on Tuesday:
“Very frankly, I think that we have some problems with inventory,” Hooks said when asked if the shelter has problems with dogs going missing.
Frankness is good. Action is better. As usual, there seems to be little to none of that in Memphis:
[…] Councilman Myron Lowery asked what has been done since the mayor turned over the report to the district attorney general.
And while no one knew if prosecutors are investigating MAS, Hooks did tell the council the city needs more animal control officers.
The pound can not keep track of the dogs it has now and there have been allegations of criminal wrongdoing. No one knows what, if anything, is being done. Will more ACOs affect these issues in any meaningful way? Will more ACOs prevent another dog like Pretty Girl from somehow being missed by her owner on 4 escorted walk-throughs of the pound? Will more ACOs force MAS to finally list every pet on PetHarbor – which they had the capability of doing at the time they had Pretty Girl – so that owners of lost pets might be able to find them?
Pretty Girl is yet another needless victim of the MAS cesspool. How many more must be exposed before the city takes meaningful action to clean up its shiny new $7.2 million atrocity?