Some MAS Volunteers Stepped Up for Pets at the Pound

On January 30, 2012, some of the volunteers at MAS e-mailed a thoughtfully crafted documented outlining their concerns at the pound as well as suggestions for improvement.  The document was sent to the city politicians in charge of MAS as well as supervisory staff at the pound.  I have uploaded a copy of this public document but have removed the names of the volunteers who signed.  If any of those vols want to leave a comment indicating he/she signed this letter, that will be his/her personal choice.  I’ll be checking IPs and no one will be outed against their will.  (Note:  I had to remove the professional looking formatting in order to edit the document to remove names so my apologies if it seems a little difficult to read at first.)

Some of the concerns mentioned in the document are:

Every photo taken at intake for ID cards should be uploaded to Pet Harbor. It is as simple as pressing one button and would not involve any extra work for the staff person creating the ID card.

Kennels are filthy and are never spot cleaned by MAS staff.

Volunteers have noticed significant weight loss with certain dogs from time to time.
It is insulting to the volunteers to be told not to provide additional food because the dogs are on individual “nutritional plans.” We all recognize there are no individual nutritional plans in place and it’s insulting to be told that. The staff dumps a cup of food in a bowl for each dog regardless of the size of the dog and some dogs are not getting enough food to eat.
We don’t want another instance of a dog starving to death in the shelter as has happened in the past.
Staff should use common sense when feeding the dogs. It’s common sense that a 15 pound poodle and a 75 pound mastiff don’t have the same nutritional needs.
If a dog is clearly too thin, it should be fed more/more often.

Pure bred and healthy animals are being euthanized when there is space available.

There is rumor and some evidence that the cameras are not functioning and are not being monitored as was promised by the Mayor’s office when the decision was made to stop webcam broadcast.

When volunteers report an animal being sick or injured it can often take HOURS before there is a response by the clinic.

Visitors to the shelter are asking volunteers about the state of the kennels and the condition of some of the animals who are thin.

Thank you to the vols who took action to try and get help for the pets at MAS.  More, please.

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28 Comments

  1. What a fantastic letter (despite the disappointing need for it).
    I hope it merits an equally fantastic result.

    As an aside – it blows my mind to interpret that there is such a division between Staff & Volunteers. I would think staff would take full advantage of having WILLING people to help get whatever needs to be done… done.

    That some of those points had to be made makes me wonder just what sort of staff actually “works” there. Really – same amount of food for different size dogs? C’mon…

    Reply
  2. Jody Fisher

     /  February 24, 2012

    Soooo – you mean those crazy animal activists weren’t so crazy after all?! How many of us have been sending e-mails to Hooks/Hall and Mayor regarding all of the issues mentioned – months and years ago?! Thanks to those volunteers for standing up for what they knew was wrong. My understanding is that 3 volunteers did NOT sign the e-mail, nor did they speak up or support those that did……

    Reply
    • Stephanie

       /  February 24, 2012

      Not every volunteer even knew this letter had been written or that a meeting took place, so it’s a given that there were volunteers who did not sign, did not attend, etc.

      Reply
      • 1 Voice

         /  February 24, 2012

        Stephanie, I think Jody is talking about those who attended the meeting, but were too cowardly to sign the document. One in particular sat there and didn’t say a word. Now, she’s on the CA dissing Carol Lynch.

  3. Nicci W

     /  February 24, 2012

    Wow! That was a VERY well thought-out and professional letter! Way to go! About the cart in the puppy room, we needed a cart around our office and I found a great, sturdy metal one at Sam’s club for cheap! I don’t remember exactly how much, but I think it was around $50. It’s not solid, so could easily be cleaned when needed.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the tip Nicci W. If they still need the cart, I’m sure we could buy them one. If nothing else, maybe the offer will shame the city into taking action on that item at least. Such a simple thing.

      Reply
      • Lisa

         /  February 24, 2012

        We could chip in to buy the cart and then send a press release to all Memphis media announcing it and spelling out exactly why it was needed …

    • Stephanie

       /  February 24, 2012

      A new cart was delivered shortly after the meeting took place. It had just arrived last time I was at the shelter.

      Reply
      • TY for letting us know. Is there anything else still needed as far as small equipment we could get for you?

  4. Shelby Hartman

     /  February 24, 2012

    Please bear in mind that the observations included in that document were not sweeping. Not ALL dogs are laying in filth. Some feces in a kennel is going to happen. It was the situation where a dog is laying in its own diarrhea for four hours and no one comes to clean it up after being told repeatedly about it by multiple volunteers, or five puppies in a kennel with poop smeared from wall to wall and all over their fur for hours….those were the situations that were of most concern. We felt that we didn’t want to see the shelter slipping back to pre-2009 status we wanted to make sure problems were known and addressed. By presenting this document to Hooks/Hall we thought maybe we were pointing out things that they may not be aware of since they aren’t at the shelter all the time the way some volunteers are. Unfortunately at one point in the meeting Hall said, “so are y’all just TRYING to insult us with this comment?” (Made regarding our pointing out all the maintenance issues needing to be addressed.) Then Hooks in her interview noted that many of our concerns were unfounded (although earlier she said it had been a “fruitful” meeting.) The shelter is still light years better than it was before the 2009 raid. But it has a long way to go. Hopefully this new guy is capable. I hope people will give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves he doesn’t deserve it.

    Reply
    • The new director gets the benefit of the doubt. The mayor and his cohorts who picked him for the job and are extolling his virtues – not so much.

      Reply
    • mikken

       /  February 24, 2012

      Hall seems to take it very personally. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t understand how to behave professionally.

      Reply
  5. Shelby Hartman

     /  February 24, 2012

    The city said they would put a cart in the puppy room. Since I resigned I have no idea if they did, or not. But hopefully they made good on it.

    Reply
    • Villy

       /  February 24, 2012

      Shelby, thank you for your dedication and sincerity, and you care for the animals at MAS. I hope that you continue to volunteer, even if not at MAS. There are many local organization and rescues that strive to help the animals at the Memphis Animal Shelter. I hope that you are soon able to find a new venue for you passion and talent. Come by our adoption events sometime :-) Most of our animals are former MAS-residents :-)

      Reply
  6. mikken

     /  February 24, 2012

    A huge THANK YOU to the volunteers who took the time and effort to try to initiate change. Well done to all of you!

    I had no idea that the staff was so oppositional in their behavior towards volunteers. I don’t understand why they’re not grateful for the extra help? Unless…they think they’re doing something wrong and are seeing the volunteers as witnesses to their wrongdoings?

    Reply
  7. Jennifer

     /  February 24, 2012

    This is a very good document!

    I was shocked to read about the feeding though. Employees do not realize that bigger dogs need more food! This appears to be a training problem with the employees. Do they not document how much food is being fed each dog? How would they know if the dog is getting thinner do to an illness or lack of food?

    There should be a page stating the dogs weight and the amount of food that needs to be fed-like what is on the back of a dog food bag. On it should also be the amounts for feeding puppies and pregnant dogs!

    Reply
    • 1 Voice

       /  February 24, 2012

      According to Mayor Wharton, the employees at MAS are “well-trained and compassionate”. Coucilman Joe Brown said, “We have a better staff of employees at the shelter than any other shelter in the region. There’s no reason for outsourcing.”

      Reply
  8. Shelby Hartman

     /  February 24, 2012

    I think you’ve blocked some of the volunteers from being able to post to YesBiscuit….

    Reply
    • Anyone blocked who wants a second chance is welcome to contact me privately. I have received requests in past from people of this nature (not from MAS vols) and consider them on a case by case basis.

      Reply
  9. I received the following comment from an MAS vol who prefers to remain anonymous but wanted this posted:

    In response to Jody: I want to expand on Stephanie’s comments- The document was created by four of us, and signed by 6 of us who were concerned. This is not to say that other volunteers were/are not concerned; the four of us initially met because we know each other well and had been frustrated. I believe that all the volunteers want the shelter to succeed, and I don’t want anyone’s lack of attendance at the meeting or lack of signature on the document to be misconstrued as not caring what goes on. This was not an all-out volunteer effort, and while it was not meant by any means to be exclusive, we didn’t know how others would feel and we didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

    Reply
  10. I don’t see it as a case of “misconstruing” support or apathy. If there was ANY vol who was at the meeting but did not sign the letter, did that person speak up and say ‘Hells yeah, I’m with these guys 100%”? Did they challenge Hall when she made the snide remark about trying to insult them?

    If there was ANY vol who didn’t know about the letter and didn’t know about the meeting – they surely know about it now. Are they chiming in with support? Have they got your backs? Are they saying “Let’s present a unified front in support of the animals”? If no, they are cowards. No misconstruing involved.

    Reply
    • Shelby Hartman

       /  February 24, 2012

      There are no cowards in that group of volunteers. You should meet these people and understand their situation before you speak ill of them. If everyone was asked to leave because they spoke to the media then there would be no volunteers. The volunteers have been all that is holding that place together. I think I know. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. I can speak to it with certainty. If people left enmass to ‘screw the Shelter’ or prove solidarity then all they are screwing are the animals who wouldn’t get the walks, the love, the extra food, the extra cleaning, the grooming, the fostering, etc. I know it’s your style to “rage against the machine” and I realize there is a good bit about MAS to rage about, but you are completely wrong about the volunteers. There were no volunteers in that meeting that weren’t signatories to the document. No other volunteers even knew about it because we didn’t tell anyone else. Jeanne was the only volunteer present in the meeting who hadn’t signed the document. Prior to the meeting she indicated her support when we showed it to her and even said if we gave her a copy she would give it to the Advisory Board for review/discussion. She changed her tune at/following the meeting for whatever reason. You can boot me off of YesBiscuit for disagreeing with you, but you are sorely mistaken in calling any of those volunteers cowards.

      Reply
      • I’ve never banned anyone for disagreeing with me and don’t plan to start today. I have no doubt you know things Shelby. Please believe that I too know things. There is a lot that goes on regarding Memphis that never makes it on to the blog. I have my opinions and would love nothing more than to be proven wrong by actions.

  11. Jody

     /  February 25, 2012

    Shirley understood exactly what I was getting at with my comment. Jeanne sat in that meeting and never said a word! THAT says it all! Where was Eleanor in all of this? Hooks and Hall are more concerned about themselves than anything at MAS. Thank you Shirley for keeping the public informed- you are such a friend to the animals at MAS! You have been the one who has brought the atrocities- each and everyone of them – to the public’s attention.

    Reply
  12. Jennifer Dudarenke

     /  February 27, 2012

    So thankful that someone is speaking up for these animals and letting it be known what worthless individuals are running this shelter. It sickens me, the things these shelters do.

    Reply
  13. Jessica C

     /  March 10, 2012

    Thanks very much to the volunteers that have put this document together. I hope it works out in the long-run. I would also mention the abuse thats been going on, but this is a very good start. Keep us updated!!

    Reply

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