MAS Advisory Board Needs to Take Action

I don’t know what it is going to take to get someone in a position of leadership in Memphis to take swift and meaningful action regarding the abuse at the pound but here’s my take: If I’m the director, the division leader or the mayor, I’m calling the police. Workers caught on tape committing acts of animal cruelty are to be prosecuted no differently than any member of the public. If I’m on the shelter advisory board, I’m convening an emergency meeting OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and allowing citizens to voice their concerns and offering reassurances that the abuse has ended with the firing of the charged employees.

The thing I’m not going to do is maintain the status quo by offering a “retraining class” to abusive employees. Animal abusers should not work with animals. Period. Showing them again how to use a chokepole is not an acceptable remedy. They should be in jail.

I’m also not going to play games on Facebook by deleting legitimate questions from caring rescuers posted on my page. Not only is that childish, it’s insulting. And it does nothing to reassure the public that you are taking the abuse seriously.

A reader sent me this grab of a question posed by a Memphis rescuer (Villy) on the “Friends” of MAS FB page. The question is directed at Jeanne Chancellor since she is the head of the “Friends” group and a member of the shelter advisory board. I think the same question could and should be put to every member of the advisory board. The question was apparently deleted by Jeanne Chancellor. So it is preserved here because I think it deserves an answer:

Screengrab of the "Friends" of MAS Facebook page on March 5, 2012. Click to enlarge.

Shelter advisory board members – are you taking the video evidence of abuse seriously? Are you holding an emergency public meeting and making the abuse at the pound the only item on the agenda? Are you willing to listen to the concerns of caring citizens and take appropriate action to protect the community’s pets?

22 thoughts on “MAS Advisory Board Needs to Take Action

  1. It seems as if the people shown in the videos are still at MAS. That leaves us with two explanations:
    nobody ever looked at the video feed from MAS
    nobody cares that animals are abused at MAS
    I wonder which one it is? Maybe both?

    1. Exactly what I’ve been thinking, either they are NOT viewing the camera video or they don’t care about the abuse to cats & dogs. I believe it’s both.

      I’m pretty sure, by their actions, the Mayor, Ms Hooks and FOMAS doesn’t care about the abuse or the people who do care. They are more willing to make themselves look bad than to get rid of the abusers.

  2. I saw Villy’s post and thought it was a reasonalbe question. Actually, I would have asked the same question if I had not been banned from that page……Isn’t this a conflict of interest with Jeanne being an Advisory Board Member and the head of FMAS?! I wonder why she deleted Villy’s question? I really don’t wonder- we all know the answer….My opinion is that she has never been part of the solution – always a part of the problem!

    1. Actually Jeanne has started out as a caring loving dog rescuer years ago. I used to call her a friend. We were working on trying to bring a much needed change to MAS. This was 15 or so years ago. I am at a loss for words, what happened to the person I used to know and greatly respect? What happened to Jeanne? She has to be taken down….that’s all I know. This has to stop. I just don’t understand how she can stand by and let this go on. Wow….just wow….

  3. I think one of the important things about these awful videos is making it clear, once again, that if FoMAS doesn’t take action to reform the shelter, they are choosing to enable and perpetuate the abuses there. Previously, even though the webcams showed this same behavior, they defended the shelter. Well, now they’ve been forced to acknowledge what’s going on. If they don’t do something, they are complicit. And we see very clearly what they are complicit in.

    If not them, who? If not now, when?

    1. Remember it is FRIENDS of the Memphis Animal Shelter … the name is NOT FRIENDS of the ANIMALS at MAS. It seems clear about as to where the loyalties of some of the friends are.

      You either work to CHANGE a system or you perpetuate a failing/failed system. Posting animals ONLY on Facebook helps some and only for those who access FB which really is not as large an audience as what could be obtained by posting on petharbor or petfinder or other publicly accessible sites that are not password protected. Never mind that more off-site adoptions need to be held.

      I admire the volunteers who have tried and are trying to work for reform – but merely taking nice pictures and posting same on Facebook does not bring about the radical transformation that is needed on this day, at this time, in this city, for these defenseless animals.

  4. I’m not clear on what the function of the Advisory Board is? To whom do they report? The Interim Shelter Director or the Mayor?

  5. Did the Memphis Police Department not realize that animal cruelty crimes were being committed? Aren’t they suppose to be monitoring the real time cameras?

  6. The big problem seems to be that how people on this blog define animal abuse is not the same way that MAS apparently defines animal abuse.

    Use of a chokepole is not animal abuse, but it is certainly usually unnecessary. At the shelter where I work, it is extremely rare to see our staff use them. Next time I’m there I’ll ask them what percent of dogs require use a chokepole. I don’t want to guess at what theyll say, but I’ll guarantee you it’s damn low.

    However, it’s obvious that it’s standard procedure at MAS. And when you see the staff misusing a chokepole, unfortunately it’s just going to be seen as someone who needs some training to bring that employee up to the shelter standards.

    There are obviously lots of issues at MAS, but a big first step would be to prohibit the use of chokepoles except for certain circumstances (which should be fairly rare, based on what I see at my shelter).

    We don’t know what Mr. Rogers’ training is going to be like. If it’s the same old same old, I wouldn’t blame people for being cynical about his ability and/or interest in making real changes. If the training is going to be how to better handle dogs so that chokepoles are not necessary, it would be a step in the right direction.

    1. Proper use of a *control* pole is not animal abuse. The reason I call them chokepoles WRT MAS is because that’s how they use them – as a weapon. Dragging or lifting a dog by a metal noose around the neck is abuse. Let’s be clear. This is not footage taken from a day when MAS caught fire and people and animals were panicking and people were trying any desperate act they could think of to save lives. This is footage from an average day at MAS – impounds, killings, etc. There is no justification for dragging or lifting a dog on a chokepole. If you saw a group of kids slip a metal wire around a dog’s neck and drag him, would you not immediately intervene? Of course you would because it’s instantly recognizable as cruelty.

      1. I do agree that lifting and dragging animals as we see in those videos is abuse.

        But as long as chokepoles are used for (apparently) nearly every dog at MAS, there is little chance that any of the staff will consider it to be abuse. To them, It’s just video of some staffer whose technique needs a little refinement.

        As long as chokepoles are considered standard procedure at MAS, I think the likelihood of the staff considering what we see in those videos to be abuse is quite low.

      2. I understand your point now Joel and perhaps that offers at least some insight as to how those witnessing the abuse are not depicted running, screaming and flailing as I imagine you or I might do in similar circumstances. Mercifully, it’s not up to the MAS staff to arrest, charge or prosecute crimes which occur at the pound. The police and prosecutors should be doing that. Although if the police are the ones monitoring the video feeds these last several months and haven’t already raced down there at 90mph with sirens blaring, I don’t know what we’re supposed to think.

  7. I don’t have the stomach to watch the videos but I do want to express my deep thanks to you and anyone else who is taking the time to go through them. Hopefully they will fall on the right ears and something will happen. And if the shelter where I volunteer every weekend even has a choke pole, I have never seen it.

  8. I have seen several mentions of the video feeds being watched by the Memphis Police Department. Just an FYI that during the recent FOIA request of 2/7/12, there were two other attempts to obtain a certain day’s footage — but the requested footage was “overwritten” both times. The City’s response was that they just realized that the “elaborate video system” didn’t have an adequate hard drive to retain the setting of 30 days worth of footage (which it was installed to do). That tells me that no one has been monitoring the footage or the hard drive problem would’ve been discovered long before the request. We were told by the city that “someone is monitoring at MPD 24 hours a day.” I SO doubt that!!

  9. I really don’t know the answer to this question? Did tax payers money go to install the camera’s??? Why are they are not being monitored… really…. This is ridiculous … City of Memphis… MPD.. step up!!! How long has this BS been going on… When will we put a stop to this…

    I agree with so many… Let’s put those people on a choke pole and pull them around the building… Why was a choke pole used… looked like to me the tail was wagging on the one pup…

    I’m sorry … I just don’t understand… If Memphis can’t get this under control… we are in BAD shape… I mean really bad shape!!!

  10. I think everyone in charge just does not care. They are on a power trip and only want the money/prestige. Only some volunteers and maybe a worker or 2 are actually concerned for the animal’s safety. The rest of them are using the same ole “catch and kill philosophy”. “Well, theyll be dead soon, so who cares about being compassionate/giving food/water/medical attention/etc.”

  11. Will the police department allow a group of volunteers to monitor the videos and alert them when abuse or neglect is witnessed? If so, I will volunteer for a shift.

    The problem is that most of the police department feels about animals the way Mayor Wharton, LaSonya Hall, Janet Hooks, Frank Lightfoot, Demetria Hogan, etc. all feel about them…most do not care. If any of these people cared, something would be done. The fact that nothing is done just shows that none of our city officials care and neither does our police force.

    Memphis is being run by a bunch of heartless beasts. Until that changes, this situation will never be different. We are going to have to get some national animal welfare groups to show up and do something. A handful of citizens can not take on a corrupt city government all alone, it just isn’t going to happen. It is going to take national help from an organization who means business, someone with big dollars. Or a bunch of people in ski masks like the Animal Liberation Front is what it will probably take.

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