Two Readers Visit MAS

A couple of readers visited the Memphis pound on a recent Saturday about one hour after the place opened.  They sent me some observations as well as some photos.

Reader #1 wrote:

Probably 95% of the kennels were dirty – poop/ diarrhea in those kennels. Some of the [metal] beds were broken and many had the paint chipped off. We were told the kennels had been cleaned that morning- we were there at noon. There were some puppies that were listed at only month old in the normal size kennels.

The first kennel we came upon had a kennel card of a pit bull but the dog was some sort of hunting dog.  This dog also didn’t have any collar on it.  I think we saw a total of 6 employees and 7 volunteers. It was mentioned that there had been a parvovirus outbreak a few weeks ago.

Reader #2 wrote:

I found the shelter to be filthy. It stunk the second we walked in – what happened to this great ventilation system?? We were not greeted at all – and we noted the same thing when other visitors came through the door. In fact, [we] greeted more people coming in than the volunteers!!

As we walked through, I’d say 98% of the kennels had poop in the kennel – sometimes on the floor where the dogs/puppies could step in it. I found the metal beds troublesome. I asked the volunteer about the plastic coating that was obviously peeling/being eaten off. She said, “Well, at least I know it’s not toxic.” Well, that was reassuring – NOT. The wires that work to open the guillotine system were broken on 3-4 of the kennels. Thus – if you can’t work the wires, you can’t clean properly and/or are spraying the dogs. I also noticed as we went from one of the adoption areas into the food processing room . . . the volunteer looked through the glass at the employees inside (before opening the door) and put her finger to her neck in a slicing motion – like “cut the crap, we have visitors.” Then she motioned to the left with her head in our direction so the 3 employees in the food prep room would know a visitor was coming through. Don’t know what they were doing at the time that she needed to stop them.

The outside, concrete run . . . as we walked out, I noticed an enclosed plastic rat/mouse trap to the side of the door. How safe is that if a dog is out there playing and gets that in its mouth?? Geeez.

The volunteer also told us that they’ve had a couple of volunteer orientations – both about 25 people. But they don’t have many that return. Why is that?? I think there is a problem there if volunteers are not returning.

We didn’t see more than a 100 dogs. The volunteer said there is another room that the intakes come through – and stay until they are evaluated. I can only imagine what happens in that room. It is off limits. Makes me sick to my stomach.

As a lot of others have mentioned before . . . it is only a new building. Nothing more.

Below are some of the photos I received.  It seems as if the city never addressed the problem of the peeling paint off those shoddy metal platforms as they had claimed.  It’s disappointing to hear that several of the cables used to raise the guillotine doors are already broken.  What kind of quality does $7.2 million buy these days anyway?  If visitors are only being shown 100 dogs, that leaves hundreds more locked away behind closed doors.  At a place killing 3 out of 4 pets, the least they could do is unlock the doors and let people in to see and touch the animals.  They won’t even use their Chameleon software to post all the pets online.  How is anyone supposed to help these pets if no one but the city knows they are there?

And why so many dirty cages?  It’s understandable that some cages might be in need of spot cleaning at any given moment because workers/vols can’t possibly be everywhere at once with the scooper but it is simply unacceptable for nearly every kennel to have feces in it one hour after opening on the busiest adoption traffic day of the week.  Adopters are not exactly drawn to stink.  And they certainly aren’t eager to cuddle puppies who have run through poop.  This stuff is a no-brainer.  Come on, Memphis!

Per Reader #2, this photo "shows the wire weaved through the kennel door because the wire broke. It is a pulley system. The wire should come up and over the roller at the top and then connect about mid-way. At that point, there is a "pull" that controls the pulley system to pull the guillotine door up via the wire."
The broken wire for the guillotine door was left on the floor of the cage with this dog.
This pup's ID collar was left excessively long and the pup was chewing on it.

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39 thoughts on “Two Readers Visit MAS

  1. Wait, seriously, they had a parvo outbreak and THEY AREN”T CLEANING????? Isn’t that animal abuse right there (ok, the lack of cleaning ought to be in general, but apparently it isn’t, if you’re at the shelter….)?

    Its probly just as well I’m not local…….

  2. OMG!!!!!!!! Some of those cages had so much poop in them it is really hard to believe that they had been cleaned out for several days. I know that dogs might tend to poop more often if they are nervous, but really…… They should have an employee or volunteers who are dedicated to removing the poop from those kennels all day long. That place must reek of feces! Ugh!

    Another thought came to mind when I saw the picture of the two small puppies (one black and one brownish puppy) sleeping on the blue metal grate. Are those puppies even tall enough to reach that water dish? Hard to tell since they were sleeping, but they sure looked like they were too small to reach it.

    Another question — why didn’t the shelter use those beds with the PVC pipe frames and canvas bedding area? Those are so much more comfortable for a dog than hard metal is.

    Why are so many dogs still kept behind closed doors and not available for the public to see? WHAT IS WRONG in Memphis that this continues to happen?

    MAS needs so much to bring it up to standard — new leadership, new employees, and new policies that provide the best care for the animals that are housed there. I hope the citizens of Memphis will elect a new Mayor as soon as possible === one that cares about the dogs & cats in the care of the city.

    1. The Mayor of Memphis and his administration is what is wrong with Memphis Animal Shelter! Even when something wrong is reported, they’re determined to protect their employees. They sing about re-imaging the shelter, but are obviously not bright enough to realize that takes positive actions, not a bunch of lies.

  3. This is heartbreaking. I am sitting at my desk with tears in my eyes. I can’t even think straight. The TV is on, showing the re-run of last night’s Westminster dog show, which isn’t helping. Watching dogs who are so well cared for, loved, while on my computer screen is the filthy, dirty truth of what YesBiscuit has been telling us for so long – corruption and human failing. Cruelty and neglect that would get a breeder or even a pet owner charged with a crime.
    This is the exact opposite of what animal shelters should be, and I just want to scream. Not that I didn’t already know about it, but this is a shocking reminder. Thanks to the readers who made this report.

    What I see here is proof that animal welfare groups continue to place blame in the wrong place. By blaming the supply/source of dogs, they perpetuate the killing. This is ignorance, corruption, greed, and laziness.

    It is terribly sad to think that MAS has so many more dogs locked away, out of public view! How many of those hidden dogs are actually lost, with heartbroken families trying to find them? If I lived in Memphis, and one of my dogs escaped, I would lose hope pretty quickly, assuming the worst, knowing what kind of regressive animal control system is in place. Disgusting.

    Here’s how it can be done. Be sure to read the second paragraph:
    Last weekend one of the local humane societies (picks dogs from the above shelter and other sources) emptied the kennels of dogs.
    What is it about Wisconsin . . . dogs are valued, there is no significant problem with strays, the rescue groups cooperate (for the most part, and too often grudgingly). There are more Westminster dogs from Wisconsin than any other state. We fight, we do battle in our legislature between the humane societies and the breeders, the hunting and dog sports folks, but in spite of the challenges, we have pretty much solved problems like MAS. It used to be like that here, I can tell you from experience.

    What a shame that MAS had millions of dollars to build a shelter, yet they can't make it a welcoming place, encouraging volunteers, personally greet people who come in, do a little CLEANING, at the very least . . . really shameful.

  4. What we see here is the FAIL of MAyor AC Wharton’s bullshit. I really hate to put it in these terms but AC has got to stop playing “Step ‘n’ Fetch It” when he’s in front of the cameras. It is hardly believable anyway. Perhaps he ought to consider growing up and taking responsibility for his city and his agencies. Ultimately, the Mayor is responsible for all these fails at the shelter, since he is at the top of the hierarchical pyramid in Memphis. For someone who boasts his prowess, he sure shows little for his boasting.

  5. I have my “volunteer application” filled out to take over to MAS – but I’m not sure if I can handle it – if they’d even contact me after being seen protesting outside their gate. My friends and family think I’ve lost my mind for even remotely considering it.

    1. Linda,

      You must at least try. If nothing else, you could bring a little kindness and comfort to the poor creatures imprisoned there.

  6. It seems that most of the dogs pooped on their beds. Does that mean that they were holding it so long by the door that lets them out? If these poor dogs get let out at 4-6 in the afternoon, before a crew goes home, there is no way in hell they can hold it until morning when someone comes in at 6-8! Hello?
    Where in hell are they finding these people?

    1. The *bed* doesn’t look very comfortable, but if they pee on it, they don’t have to dodge the puddle. I venture that’s why they poop there too, they KNOW they want to be near the food and water dish, and they KNOW they want to get the heck out of the cage, so they mess where they are least likely to need to go…the metal grate!

      Our local Animal Control puts blankets or dog beds or towels or SOMETHING on top of the metal grates. Some dogs destroy whatever they are given, but others really appreciate the bedding.

  7. I’m from Memphis – I’m ashamed to say. We’ve been yelling, screaming, writing and a lot of crying. WE NEED HELP!! There has got to be a way to get the city’s hands off of this un-shelter. FOR DOG’S SAKE!! Not 6 months goes by without major drama from this place. There has to be a reason those political weasels won’t let a private company come in and take the whole thing over. They’ve made a few movements in that direction but with stipulations – so of course no one will attempt….afraid of having too many politicians in their way.

    Linda- if you can have courage for the animals…they love even 60 seconds of human touch. I volunteer at another shelter and you can see the appreciation in their eyes and tails….do it if you can…and cry on the way home – I do.

    1. The city put out an RFP for private management and I believe they received ZERO offers. It isn’t a matter of the city not allowing a private company to manage it. No one wants to touch that stinker with a 10 food pole, and that’s unfortunate.

      1. S, the way it was done (timing, restrictions) was designed to make it fail. Of course no one would touch it – the city made it far more trouble than it was worth and then timed it over the holidays and too fast for anyone to put together anything coherent. They just wanted to be able to say that hey, they tried, oh well…

        If the city were serious, they would do it differently and do it right. But they’re not. They’re all for appearances and that’s it.

      2. THE REASON NO ONE RESPONDED TO PRIVITIZE: the city put stipulations on the offer: they wanted to remain owners of the facility and the land – and I didn’t get a chance to read the entire offer but there were other unattractive nasties involved. They need to let the whole thing go!! And when they put out the word- they need to be heard……….their lame offer was pretty frickin’ quiet!!

  8. Obviously there are things in disrepair and some safety concerns for the dogs (loose collars on puppies, mousetrap where a dog could get it, etc.) But honestly, those cages don’t look “filthy” to me. Most of those poops weren’t even stepped in! I work at a no-kill rescue shelter where I clean 15 runs every morning at 8am. When I get there at 7am I scoop my line first thing. However, some of the dogs jump all around in their poo and get it on the walls and everywhere. They get an hour to eat, and then at 8 everything is scrubbed. I spot check my line all throughout the day.

    However, if someone wanted to, they could snap pics that look just like those pics above (except that the runs are indoor/outdoor and the poo would be in the outdoor section) right before I scoop and say “look, these runs are dirty!” They could especially take a pic right before I clean a certain dog’s run (the aforementioned poop dancer, as we call it) and scream cruelty if they wanted to. I sometimes have to clean that dog’s run two or three times in a day because she is just that dang disgusting. I am not trying to defend MAS because obviously there is a LOT wrong there that needs to change. I’m just pointing out that a few pics of dogs sitting in a run where there is one pile of poop on the floor is not a good one to prove cruelty or neglect. Those of us who experience life in a shelter daily can attest that those pics themselves don’t prove how long poop is left there before being picked up, and they don’t prove that those runs weren’t scooped right after the photographer left. They only prove that it was there, and well, dogs poop! They can poop a LOT when fed foods chock full of grain. Puppies poop and then jump all around in it and get it all gross, and they do that in a matter of minutes! And I’m sure, just like 99% of shelters, there is nobody there picking up overnight. So if the dogs poop and its left there all night long because everyone has gone home for the day, is that cruelty as well?

    1. I think it’s great that you are so responsible with your scooping (seriously). The thing about MAS is volunteers and employees just stand around and do not even attempt to clean up the poo. They just do not care. The hours that the shelter is open, there should be extra attempts to “showcase” the animals in a great light.

      1. LAM, you don’t really know what you are talking about. The volunteers do care and have asked to be given the authority to clean cages and have been denied by the City. The volunteers have begged for rights to use the pressure washers so dogs don’t have to lay around in their puddles of diarrhea. Many volunteers get in and clean it up by hand as they walk the dogs. They have been treated hatefully by LaSonya Hall for moving dogs to clean cages and “creating more work” for the incredibly lazy staff. So before you start attacking the volunteers, you need to do a little more research because you are way off base.

    2. CristyF – Your 15 run no kill rescue/shelter is not the same as a major city facility. People have certain expectations when they walk into a new $7.2 million metropolitan shelter which is funded by taxpayers and those expectations are different than when they go into another type of facility (yours, for example). Do you hide most of your pets from adopters? My guess is no. But if you did, wouldn’t you make darn sure that the small portion you did show to the public were kept clean? Wouldn’t you keep puppies (especially pups with diarrhea) separate from the general population? Wouldn’t you take EXTRA care regarding cleanliness if you’d had a recent parvo outbreak? I bet you would do all those things plus much more.

      1. I said 15 runs is all I’m responsible for. In total, we have three different buildings of runs, which equals 98 runs. There is also another section called “The Village” which is 10 climate-controlled pens with chain link fences around them where the long-term dogs live. Except for the iso runs where new dogs are kept to make sure they have no contagious diseases and sick dogs are kept until they are well, all areas are viewable by the public. Disease prevention is taken very seriously, and the runs aren’t just scrubbed but disenfected once a day, every day.

        That said, dogs can and do poop four times in a couple hours or heck, even within one hour. Dogs stress a lot in shelter environments, which easily causes diarrhea. Plus, at the no-kill rescue shelter they are fed a food called Regal, which is chock full of grain, and I like to call it “poop fuel”. They were switched over from Science DIEt a while ago, and while Regal has more nutritional ingredients than SD, all the grain makes the dogs poop a lot more than they did on the SD. I am not trying to defend shitty work, I am merely pointing out that those pictures aren’t the right ones to use to prove cruelty and neglect, nor do they prove the runs weren’t cleaned for “days”. Some of the other kennel workers aren’t quite as fastidious as me, but I do know that all the runs are scooped at the end of the day before everyone leaves, and then we show up in the morning to runs with three piles of poop in them, runs with poop smeared everywere, etc. You want and need solid evidence of MAS’s incompetence. These pictures aren’t it.

      2. I agree with the pooping … my dogs poop 4 times a day. I know because I have two dogs not trained to the Pet Safe fence system and need to be walked on a leash.

      3. These photos aren’t being presented as evidence of cruelty but rather as documentation of what 2 readers saw during a recent visit. They are merely an accompaniment to the written impressions and I’m grateful for them. We see so little of what goes on in this new $7.2 million facility and any chance to see the pets inside is appreciated. Doubly so now that we have heard this week that an ACO filed a police report and volunteers met with city leaders regarding the neglect of dogs there.

      4. You do realize that virtually all animals are viewable to the public now, right? Only quarantine is not.

      5. No Shelby I don’t realize that. I have heard from Memphis city officials and several visitors to MAS that this is not the case. If this change happened within the last week or so, I’m surprised the city hasn’t commented on it. It would be a positive step but AFAIK, it’s not true.

    3. You said your dogs are able to go out into another run to poop. These dogs can’t – they’re kept in this one small space 24 hours a day. And, yes, we know dogs poop – but look at the picture of the white boxer/Am. Bulldog – there’s 4 different piles of poop that, to me (and anyone else who’s watched a dog poop during a day), says that cage wasn’t cleaned that morning – more like the day before at the earliest.

      And if you think this is an isolated incident, you’re wearing rose-colored glasses. Obviously, these nice people weren’t able to take pictures of all the cages, but even with this small sample, it’s obvious that cleaning is not something that’s going on with any vigor here. Where’s the supervisor who should be checking these cages, at a minimum twice a day, and calling someone over to pick up the accumulated crap, since 99% of MAS employees don’t have an eighth of the work ethic you have. Don’t defend shitty work.

      1. I don’t have a clue, but it shouldn’t be too hard for the police to figure it out. I wish I was the person that recorded it, but I’m not. I live in NC.

      2. The person giving the order to kill the pit bulls is LaSonya Hall, Deputy Director of Public Works for the City of Memphis.

      3. I post to the Mayor’s FB page on two separate areas. One of my comments was deleted so I re-posted it.. Here is what I said.

        Mr. Mayor.. why aren’t you answering the questions? This is not going to go away. What are you going do do about “LASONYA HALL’s” order to kill all the pitts and pitt look-a-likes. I want to know how many dogs were kill that night and what breeds were murdered! Actually.. that woman needs to be fired… period!.

  9. What a disgrace, poor dogs! to the people who r running this place “CLEAN UP UR ACT! HTH DO U EXPECT PEOPLE TO ADOPT FROM U IF THE PLACE IS A MESS? THEY WILL TAKE ONE LOOK AT THE PLACE AND LEAVE EMTY HANDED.” People need to see a shelter as a positive environment and so do the dogs so that they will be ready when the time comes to be adopted not, not sick and depressed.

  10. These pictures are heartbreaking…I can barely look at them.

    Amazing how many lives that $7.2 million couldve saved but instead had to be spent on this killing facility thats already breaking down. And those beds look extremely uncomfortable!! They couldnt have sprang for some of those kuranda beds, at the very least?? Thats not including no water/food/dogs being locked away being closed doors and all kinds of other problems going on there.

    Thank you to the people who went there and took pics.

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