What Happened to Pretty Girl at MAS?

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?

44 thoughts on “What Happened to Pretty Girl at MAS?

  1. Look at her collar. Does it look like her rabies tag was yanked off and the ring deformed? Do ACOs even look at tags on dogs in Memphis?

    Does MAS remove tags? If so, do they keep them somewhere? Do they make records of them? Is that the collar that the fosterer had on her?

    WTF is going on at MAS??? Mayor Wharton, DO SOMETHING to FIX the damn place. And no, that doesn’t mean more ACOs, it means getting rid of the bad apples, proper training of employees, getting some LEADERSHIP in there.

    1. Alice says:
      The answer is “Yes,” it was the collar I’d had on her and the ring definately looks as if it’d been pryed open and then squashed back together (and I have multiple pictures of her with the tag hanging very noticeably from her collar).

    2. I don’t believe tags on the dog mean anything to them because when my dog was picked up by them, WITH tags on, I was never contacted. They wouldn’t acknowledge if my dog was there or not upon calling.

      When I came looking for my dog, after their weekend closing, I found him pinned to the floor grate with his tag/collar stuck in it. They also refused to say where/when/how they came into possession of him.

      Tags on any dog isn’t required to be from any year, as long as the dog wears a vaccination tag. $50 fine without one.

  2. Makes me sick when I see such blatant abuse of power on poor, innocent animals. Someone needs to over see what is going on there!!!

  3. Looking at the (paltry) records, I see she was “revaccinated due to previous administration of expired vaccine”. Does that mean that they saw her rabies tag, saw that maybe it was from last year, but never bothered to call around and see if they could locate an owner?

      1. And all the more so, now we’ve confirmation above that the tag had dangled from that ring on that collar.

        Question is, did someone on staff at MAS tear it off? And if so, why?

    1. Alice says:
      For whatever it’s worth, she was given her rabies shot on 4/17/11 so it had only been 5 months since she got it (along with all the other shots).

      1. So. They acknowledge that the dog had a tag. They removed the tag. I wish we could read that whole info field on the intake forms about the collars – maybe a tag number was recorded there.

        Apparently, MAS has no policy on trying to trace rabies tag IDs. Will they call an owner whose dog comes in with a tag indicating name/owner/phone number? Or will they just remove that tag as well and throw it in the trash? Does anyone ever attempt to get a lost dog back to an owner there? Or is that not part of their job?

  4. Inventory? Is this what Ms. Hooks calls the animals at MAS? Inventory? Are we in the retail business here?? I am appalled by this, among other things. I pray that the new management is not among the City Hall thugs.

    That poor dog. I question the records and if they really killed her. Most likely she went out the back door as a bait dog. They just can’t seem to get their stories straight.

  5. This could have been avoided if they had used their CHAMELEON SOFTWARE to list animals on the Internet upon intake.

    Now this dog is dead because of uncaring staff and an uncaring advisory board member. MAS gets upset because they have a bad public image but unfortunately they earned it. Horrible things happen over and over and over and over………….


    Youbiscuit, is there anyone campaigning against this vile place??
    I enjoy reading your information, but there has to come a point where this all stops. The animals do not deserve this and neither do the owners who are left distraught at finding out that dogs are being killed just like that!

  7. They’re really good at this. Business as usual at the pound. The place needs to be privatized. Why is it that they are right on top of a stray dog in the neighborhood issue but they are behind more than 1000 cruelty calls?

    1. It looks as if the Memphis PD picked up Pretty Girl initially. Then an ACO got her from the police officer. So she wasn’t just another loose dog call.

    2. @diane They are thinking of outsourcing the management of the MAS but retaining full ownership. In Memphis terms that means that the outsourced management will answer to the city, because the city will retain ownership over that building to what will more than likely be an illicit end..

      Here is a link from the Memphis local t.v. news about this


      Furthermore. Ms. Hooks is a nitwit. But, the Mayor of Memphis is really keen on nitwits and is to consolidate some city run ‘things’ (parks and the like, nothing really major) to be headed by Ms. Hooks and that is to be voted on by the City Counsel after a while.So, Memphis has a severe and profound issue in regard to criminality as well as unethical modes of thought and conduct with public service, and the current Mayor seems to really think that swell.

      Lastly, and I am sorry for rambling. The proposals for the outsourcing start up on 10 feb 12 and will be evaluated by a ‘committee’ of who knows who. I cannot find out who will be on the ‘committee’ for heck or high water, but I can easily surmise that nothing will be going past Ms. Hooks at all and that she could very well have the final say. In a perfect world, a complete overhaul could just result in the folks who take over the management renting the building from the city but that will just never happen in Memphis because of the criminal and illicit nature of those in public service.

      1. This idea is interesting – but what about employees? IF management is outsourced what does that mean for the city’s union employees that work there? Does whoever wins the “bid” get to keep dealing with them and not be able to fire them because their “union” – because that sounds like a friggin nightmare! I would NEVER EVER EVER want to manage a shelter where I couldn’t deal appropriately with the employees. MAS, and ultimately Memphis is so screwed up it’s not funny.

      2. Didn’t the Rotary Club report that it was not as difficult to deal with the union employees as everyone was making it out to be? That it’s more the perception of how things are done rather than what’s on paper?

        What MAS (and apparently Memphis as a whole) needs is competent leadership. Someone who not only knows what they’re doing, but is willing to say, “Yes, the buck stops here. I take personal responsibility for what happens on my watch.”

  8. According to the CA today there is no problem at MAS. They have the best staff possible, better than any other. This according to Councilman Joe Brown!

    It is people like this that are the problem. Memphis leaders who insist that there is nothing wrong. Janet Hooks is the biggest problem. It is at her feet that this mess of MAS lands. She is responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen there. Memphis needs to get rid of Janet Hooks. Only then will the MAS have any chance of improving. People need to get vocal and insist that they aren’t going to stand for animals being treated like fence posts! The animals deserve so so much better than what they have been getting.

    1. Janet Hooks got her job because her husband was a council person, who surprisingly, lost his job because of some fraud he perpetuated, who got HIS job because HIS dad was a judge!

  9. This dog’s person was at MAS FOUR TIMES to try to find her. Why was she not found? Are people looking for lost dogs shown ALL the dogs, or just SOME of the dogs?

    This whole thing stinks from start to finish.

  10. I’m sooooo glad I quit working at this dump!!! Thank you God for removing from that wicked place.

  11. Has there been any word on the investigation into Kapone’s theft and recovery?

    Ms Hooks has said there’s no evidence of staff involvement in dog fighting, and it’s true that the Rotary Club report as released to the public referenced no sources nor any other evidence of the claim made there. I assumed this was on account of discretion – that it was because investigations were ongoing. But I haven’t seen anything in the news feeds.

    1. Their attitude seems to be “Unless someone comes to us with names and documentation of dogfighting, we assume it’s nothing”. It doesn’t make sense. That’s why they call it an INVESTIGATION – cos you have to ask questions and go places and find stuff out. But apparently that’s not high on the priority list in Memphis.

      1. I can just hear her! Janet Hooks saying “those are allegations”.
        Nope……it’s not on any of her priority lists.

        This woman can look directly at photos and say there isn’t any proof. Shame on her.

      2. So far as I can see from a great distance by news websites and blogs, nothing which might foster the public good is a priority in Memphis. Place sounds like a pit. Pity, too, because the DH and I have now and then thought we’d like to visit, for the music history. Not now.

  12. THIS story makes my blood boil! (But thank you anyway for posting it because it’s minus 30 degrees here and I was chilly.)
    Okay, so the standard Animal Control drivel is that *the irresponsible public… blah, blah, blah.*
    I get it that some people don’t know any better, some people don’t care, some people are bad, cheap, ignorant, devious, or opportunistic.
    But here we have an example of a person who is not only trying, but is DOING the right thing, and voila, they treat her (and her dog) like crap with a horrid outcome and what response will we get?
    At best “oopsie”…but probably more like, “we’ll look into it…”
    And this is just ONE story about ONE person and ONE dog! How many dogs do they kill there in a year?!
    Every single animal has a story. Lots of them are probably pretty sad, but MAS seems to take pleasure in making them ALL end badly.
    Thank you to those of you who foster and rescue and report back about the critters that made it out alive. I really need to hear about those too.

  13. There’s something missing here, and that is the lifesaving that should be carried out by the Friends of Memphis Animal Services. It’s hard to believe they don’t know exactly what’s happening at this shelter. They are physically there, on the premises, every day, and they are a group, able to confer and compare notes. They have special knowledge, and with special knowledge comes special responsibility.

    If I were one of the Friends, and if I were afraid of what might happen if I spoke openly — a reasonable fear IMO, given the allegations about the staff that have apparently persisted for years — I would work quietly with other trustworthy Friends to create an underground record-keeping system, then find a way to surreptitiously track every single animal in the shelter every single day and feed information to the press on a confidential basis every week, so that the victims could not be ignored and there would be fewer “problems with inventory.” It would be a monumental undertaking fraught with difficulty, but given the lethal nature of the shelter, it’s likely that nothing less than this would protect the animals there.

    FOMAS is not doing this or anything like it. What happened to Pretty Girl perfectly shows their failure.

    My deepest condolences to Alice Zalon. No matter how many of these stories come to light, each one is just so shocking.

    1. Friends know what is going on. They either look the other way or come up with an excuse to explain the shelters actions. They are no better than the staff, they have just as much Blood on their hands.
      Yes I agree, if I saw this I would have recordings, pictures, documents….all sorts of evidence.

  14. I’m angry that MAS and FOMAS failed Alice and Pretty Girl.

    More people need to be outraged by the needless killing when there are a growing number of shelters successfully implementing the No Kill Equation, saving lives, offering actual services and value to taxpayers and donors, as well as getting support from their communities.

    The No-Kill Communities blog tracks news about open admission no-kill shelters and provides links to info about the No Kill Equation,

    “In looking back at the no-kill movement, it is remarkable how the pace of change has accelerated. In the last two years, 17 communities have achieved no-kill status, as compared to only 9 communities for the entire decade before 2010!

    …This pace of change is remarkable. If you are a no-kill advocate and you have a meeting with your mayor or city council or county commissioner, this is a great argument to make. The no-kill shelter paradigm is working so well that communities are jumping on the train at an exponentially increasing pace. These numbers should convince community leadership that no-kill is the wave of the future.” http://www.no-killnews.com/?p=3518


  16. Poor Alice?? Poor Pretty Girl yes. Is this the same Alice that surrendered a black Pit x named Blacky to MAS because she could not place him? She had him vetted, turned in the records with him. There was no room at the shelter in adoption, but she left him anyway in the Healthy Hold area. By the time there was room to move a rather active pit to the adoption area he had become sick, and Alice came back and got him. Was it a nice 2 week or whatever free boarding? Did Alice not know how the shelter worked or where the areas were?? Miss Alice knows way more than she lets on about the shelter. She knew where and when to look. Did she send someone familiar with the dog in when she could not come?? It is too bad that Pretty Girl was euthanized, but Miss Alice may not have done everything she could have done. Just say’n.

    1. HOw ’bout we not “just say” crap like this when the focus is on what MAS FAILED to do with a dog – where the dogs come from – or should I say WHO – is not the issue…the issue is that once again we have a major FAIL at the shelter level. I get so sick and tired of reading posts from people who can do nothing more than criticize and condemn people when the actually fault lies at the feet of the SHELTER and nothing more.

      Sorry but animals get lost, people fall on hard time….shit happens. It is the JOB of the shelter to keep shit from happening. I don’t give a rats ass if “Alice” turned in 5 dogs…that has NOTHING to do with this situation. NOTHING. Right now we’re discussing how a dog was failed by the very org that was set up to save her. MAS is a slaughterhouse. Period. They put a pretty face on – they sing a pretty song – their ‘friends’ support them 100%…but they SUCK. I’m beginning to think Memphis animals would be better off if MAS just closed its door and they were left to fend for themselves.

    2. Ah, the TRUTH comes out. Because Alice is not a favored minion of FOMAS and MAS staff, Pretty Girl was unavailable when Alice was escorted through to search for her! This is a story that I have seen before. Animal Control staff hold the animals hostage as a way to torture (they call it *teaching you a lesson*) people. Those of us with compassion for animals are hurt deeply when an animal dies because of our inability to save them. But killing is just another day at the office for them, and if they can kill a special pet, well, that’s just a bonus. (Better than putting a stuffed monkey in front of the web cam, for sure.)

  17. I have a question about Pretty Girl herself, where did she come from originally, it says she was a foster. I’m just wondering if she came from the same place as another dog in my care.

  18. Alice Zalon asked me to post the following on her behalf. Ms. Zalon is the author of the following comment:

    “Poor Alice” (from here on referred to as P.A.) picked up a female lab/shepherd mix who was literally running in traffic on Getwell Rd during afternoon rush hour. She took her to be scanned and according to her chip, the dog had been adopted from MAS the previous year. The supposed adopter denied she’d ever had a dog (go figure). P.A. got her completely updated on all her shots through Midsouth Spay/Neuter(out of her own pocket, skin-flint that she is, according to “Liz S”) and started the process of trying to find her a home, taking her to adoption events, putting her picture in The Flyer, and even succeeding in placing her for a month or so (unfortunately, the prospective adopter was diagnosed with Cancer and couldn’t keep her). All this time, P.A. suspected something bad would transpire as she knew “Delilah” was not “cat-friendly” (that’s putting it mildly) and P.A. is mainly a cat-rescuer (this can be verified through Midsouth Spay/Neuter, Mewtopia, Spay-in-the-City, and folks at the Humane Society and The Shelter plus various rescue groups). After Delilah finally killed P.A.’s oldest cat, she knew she had to take measures to safeguard her other cats. She was given assurance that since the shot records proved P.A. had had Delilah for at least 10 days, she would be put directly into the “Adoption Area” if she was brought to The Shelter. Since P.A. could keep tabs on her and adopt her back out if it looked like her prospects weren’t good, P.A. reluctantly took this step. After a week of Delilah not moving, P.A. went down to the Shelter, found out that she’d been diagnosed with U.R and was slated for euthanasia, so P.A. took her back. P.A invested more money in order to get her well (skin-flint that ….) and resumed measures to find her a cat-free home. After another incident in which P.A literally had to pry another of her cats out of Delilah’s mouth and getting badly bitten (by the cat), P.A. knew she could no longer tolerate Delilah in her home. By the end of that day, a temporary placement had been found and she’s now in “a better place” (the temporary turned into a permanent home). The financial fall-out from the last attack was a cost of hundreds of dollars, what with vet bills on the cat and doctor’s bills on P.A.’s hand (skin-flint that….). By now, the reader is surely convinced that “Liz S” was right in implying that P.A. is a terrible human being (and remember, P.A. rescued approximately 6 dogs last year alone and, except for Pretty Girl, they’re all alive and well, including Delilah, and in “forever homes;” we won’t mention the # of cats or she may get arrested). But P.A. does want to confess her crime. Here goes: P.A., along with other elderly folk, was brought up (70-plus years ago) to assume that the people in charge know what’s going on. And when P.A. specifically asked the person in charge (who’d escorted her around the stray area that first day, the Tuesday after the Saturday Pretty Girl went missing): “What about the Adoption Area?” (referring to the signage on the outside of that section of the old Shelter, P.A having never heard of “Healthy Hold”), she was told by that person that she couldn’t possibly be in that area that soon. So P.A’s guilt is that she trusted too much. Where “Liz S” is getting her “facts” from is troubling. P.A. was always able to come down and did so within every 72 hour period. She could have come several times a day, but if the dog was transferred out of the stray area before the first 72 hour period had passed and it was denied by an authority person that she could be in the aforementioned area (the “Adoption Area”) then everything else is moot.

    And furthermore…..Ole’ Dopey “Poor Alice” (from here on to be referred to as “O.D.P.A.) forgot to mention that during the one week that Delilah spent at The Shelter on the City’s tab (supposedly in “The Adoption Area”), O.D.P.A. checked on her status daily and could have come in to get her at a moment’s notice (actually 10 moments’ notice as she works not far from the old Shelter). O.D.P.A. admits that turning her in was not a decision she took lightly, but then everyone has his or her priorities. O.D.P.A.’s go like this: first comes her son, second comes her own cats and dog, and last comes the critters she picks up in traffic or those she finds tethered to her front stoop (as in the case of her current rescue who’s already cost her almost $200.00 to make him acceptable for inclusion in one particular rescue group’s adoption program and with no results after six months; anyone interested?) Perhaps part of the reasoning behind making the decision was due to the fact that it had worked out previously (actually under Mr. Alexander’s tenure). O.D.P.A. had picked up a large dog she’d found eating something off the asphalt between two lanes of traffic on Stage Road. He proved too much for her to handle. After unsuccessfully trying to find his owner, she took him to The Shelter, monitored his status, after listing herself as the person to be contacted if he didn’t get claimed or adopted, and when neither happened, she adopted him herself, having meanwhile secured a temporary placement and eventually a permanent one for him. Delilah had been one of MAS’ dogs originally, was already spayed, UTD on her shots and tested negative for HW, the second two items thanks to O.D.P.A.(that old skin-flint, according to “Liz S”) so she had reason to believe the outcome would be positive (especially when she was assured by that same authority person referred to in her previous “comments” that the dog was going directly into the “Adoption Area,” “Healthy Hold” having never been mentioned) and, of course, it was, at least for Delilah, if not for Boomer’s rear-end and O.D.P.A.’s right hand, on which she’s not supposed to have as much as a pin-prick due to missing lymph nodes in that arm ( and was told by the doctor tending to her wound that she could be in danger of losing her arm because of the seriousness of the cat bite). According to “Liz S” and her ilk, perhaps O.D.P.A.’s right arm is a fair trade-off for a dog’s life, but since O.D.P.A. is right-handed, it will be quite a problem for O.D.P.A. to clean out litter boxes for her 20 cats without it. I’m assuming “Liz S’’ will be willing to come over and do the deed if, in fact, this scenario ever comes to pass (as O.D.P.A. would instinctively try to save her cats from dog attacks). In the meantime, O.D.P.A. will continue to do what some folks consider of value to our community: having cats (at least 1000 and counting) and dogs (dozens) spayed or neutered.

    1. O.D.P.A. – YOU ROCK!! Don’t let this flying monkey con you into believing anything less. Her head is so far up the Wicked Witch’s butt, not to mention her obvious involvement in the House of Horrors, that she has absolutely no clue. There are those who ‘say’ they rescue animals, and then there are those who DO!! Thank you for being the later!

  19. Alice, you rock in every possible way. Enough said.

    But, um, why are shelter employees and/or volunteers discussing such details about people who come into the shelter in a public forum anyway? Is this supposed to make people comfortable dealing with the shelter? To know they can not be trusted? I see this on a regular basis. They discuss personal information about people online (including medication that volunteers/employees are taking) and all sorts of unbelievable things. The volunteers at this house of horrors are the most low level, unprofessional representation possible. Their ignorance is astounding and if any of them actually had a deep love and compassion for animals, they would never make a single excuse for the multitudes of bumbling mistakes that cause animals to die. They would be as horrified and angry as we are and they would be demanding answers and change. They are clearly a fraud and are more concerned with rubbing elbows city officials than rubbing the ears of a dog or cat. Especially if it is a cat…or a pit bull. Unless a camera is nearby….

  20. Tragically, MAS is a badly mismanaged house of horrors where roughly eight out of every 10 animals are put to death; where animals have been starved to death; where known felons are hired who then turn around and commit animal cruelty; and where animals have been neglected and abused by those who were supposed to protect them. Unfortunately, neither the Mayor’s Office nor the City Council appears willing or able to protect the animals from further neglect and killing.

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