Notes from the Memphis Shelter Advisory Board Meeting

Reader Cindy Russell attended the MAS Advisory Board meeting tonight and took notes.  The following are excerpts from her notes:

Apparently the MAS AB thought we’d be really rowdy so, Memphis, with your taxpayer dollars you got 3 police officers (nice gentlemen) and 3 police cars at the main library. You’ll be happy to know that we rowdy animal lovers who just want to see some COMPASSION (more about that in a moment) shown to the animals who, for no fault of their own, find themselves at MAS actually behaved ourselves.

Interim shelter administrator Rogers – told us that he had a lot of employees who were “shocked” and “touched” by the charges brought against people they had worked with. He has nicely arranged for Employee Assistance Program counseling to help them.

Mr. Rogers – when asked if he had animals responded that he had a pet when young and “you know how city life goes; it got hit by a car.”

Mr. Rogers – regarding that training … train them, test them, if they score 50, train them some more, test them, maybe they score 70, train them some more, test them again … etc…

Mr. Rogers – when he lectured the audience on using the word COMPASSION. How everyone has a different definition. How he needs to train his people to be compassionate.

Census as of 5pm today: 53 cats, 197 canines.

 Jan/Feb 2011 euthanized 1756 animals (76.2%) and for same period this year they euthanized 981 (52.1%).

Nice that bosses defend their employees and Mr. Rogers definitely defended the MAS employees. They need to be RETRAINED because you don’t know any better “if what you’ve been taught is wrong.”

Don Siemer put forth a motion to do away with choke poles / rabies poles / control poles (seems there’s some nicer ways to “spin” these devices). No one on the board would second his motion. Such brave advisory board members. They could have seconded his motion and then held a discussion. But it was obvious that the rest of the board was uncomfortable with having that discussion.

It was noted that there are NO security cameras in the euthanasia room. Given that’s supposedly where the heinous acts were committed that the undercover officer reported, the audience asked to have cameras placed there or have a vet there at all times of euthanasia. The board discussed the fact that they have certified/trained employees doing the euthanasia. It was pointed out that the employees who were charged were certified/trained. So, the board ultimately voted to put closed circuit cameras (“not the ones on the Internet”) in the euthanasia room and to have a vet always “available” in case there were issues with any euthanasia procedure. While some wanted to have a vet there the entire time euthanasia was being conducted, Dr. Clay (the other vet on the board) said she’d rather see the vets doing the procedures on the animals (spay, neuter, shots) to move them to getting adopted.

Thank you Cindy for sharing these notes.  It’s late so I just wanted to post this tonight.  Will be back to debunk all this crud in the morning.


27 thoughts on “Notes from the Memphis Shelter Advisory Board Meeting

  1. I was at the meeting. Very good notes Cindy. I like Mr. Rogers and I have a good feeling about him. Talked with him outside and offered my support, as we all need to do. I believe him to be a man of his word. Time will tell.

    1. I forgot to mention the YouTube channel. HughManeMemphis posts shelter newscasts. The news crews were at the meeting. So those should appear on that YouTube channel soon.

  2. What about compromising and having an actual veterinary technician? Or are they loosely certified in TN… Here in Ontario there are fairly strict rules about rvt’s, I would think at least an rvt would be an improvement…

    Other than the additional camera, which is a victory of sorts (at least it’s something!) sounds like same old, same old.


  3. Oh, and could someone post an email for Don Siemer?

    This man definitely deserves a click and treat.

  4. Counseling for employees …the ones that we have seen abusing MAS animals on the security videos? Poor dears, they must be so ‘shocked’ to learn abusers can be charged with animal cruelty. Are they ‘touched’ that they have been spared so far? Sadly I am not feeling much confidence in Rogers and his continuation of the training hogwash.

  5. I do hope he realizes that the “shocked” employees are playing him. They all knew what was going on. They’ve known for years. Hell, we knew Frank Lightfoot to be an animal abuser and we didn’t work with the man every day…

    Or maybe they were “shocked” that someone finally arrested the evil bastards. That I can believe…

    How many times do you train an employee before you give it up as a loss?

    And I would disagree that everyone has a different definition of the word compassion. I looked it up –

    “a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it”

    Sounds about right to me – can you train someone to have feelings?

    1. First, the employees were shocked that there was an undercover agent among them! Second, they were shocked when 3 of them were arrested! The employees had no idea that this was going down. I would be shocked too as an employee since this stuff had been going on for all this time and nothing had been done!

  6. I agree with Dr. Clay. If the MAS vets aren’t going to be DOING the euthanasia then why tie them up standing there watching someone else do it when they can be performing spays/neuters? If the goal is to thwart abuse then having a camera placed there in the ER on the tail of 3 arrests may do the trick, hopefully. The footage will be under the FOIA, not that I would ever want to see it. I also agree with her on the use of catch poles. That’s impractical to say ban them entirely from use at MAS. There are some situations where ACOs would need to use them. But their use should be as a last resort and within the confines of protocol.

    Did anyone at the meeting catch if they said how many prisoners they now have daily in the shelter performing the cleanings and how many supervisors are there with them? I think I may have missed it.

      1. The prisoners are most definitely there. They reported to work weeks ago, according to volunteers I know who are still at the Shelter.

      2. What I understood him to say is that they aren’t up to 6 of them yet … they have some, but not the total of 6 that they want to have. Sorry for being unclear.

    1. I went to WREG and commented on their story and encourage others to do the same – particularly in light of the Pastor Norman’s comments, which seem odd to place on that story. Here is what I posted:

      Thank you, WREG & Bonny Kinney, for doing this story. We appreciate you attending last night’s Advisory Board meeting & look forward to seeing you at the next “open” meeting in June!

      I’m not completely sure of the relevance of Pastor Norman’s comment to the overall story. Most of us would greatly appreciate not having to participate in protests, attend meetings, pay for FOIA requests, & keep contacting “leaders” about deplorable conditions for the animals. However, until the situation at MAS changes – to the positive for the animals – many of us will keep this conversation going.

      If we’re to believe the statement attributed to Gandhi “The greatness of a nation & its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – then our city is NOT great & our moral progress is lacking. If Pastor Norman is fearful that the continued focus on the plight of defenseless animals takes away attention from other important subject matter, I can assure you that all of us have the ability to simultaneously focus on multiple societal challenges. We can care about the most minor wound to a child as we mourn for the family who lost a child to senseless violence. We can care about & offer comfort to people touched by nature’s rage & weep at a powerful quote or piece of music. We have sufficient energy & attention to care about all the issues that keep Memphis from being great.

  7. Mr. Rogers seems to be emulating his famous namesake … I don’t think MAS needs a “nice guy” as a director. The animals at MAS need someone who is not afraid to piss off a few people in his quest to do the right thing. Seems to me that Mr. Rogers wants to do as little as possible to rock the boat; they could save his salary and put a marshmallow in his place for all the good he has done so far.

  8. I just hope that the animals will be treated humanely from now on and that they weed out those bad seeds and punish them for the cruelties inflicted on these innocent animals who don’t deserve to suffer or die.

  9. Just as of right now it seems like Mr. Rogers is keeping the whole Union aspect of the MAS employees in mind with a thing or two. The whole bit about retraining makes me think that for some reason. However, if a MAS employees records are purged of anything bad after six months, then would that not mean that Mr. Rogers could just milk out the retraining for that long? Hmm…I hate to think that way but this is the MAS after all.

    I think with the poles that there should be a mindful medium. A rabid dog or cat, needs a skilled employee to use a pole humanely and decently. A scared but otherwise healthy dog or cat rarely if ever needs a pole of any sort or so my own personal experience has taught me.

  10. Nice that bosses defend their employees and Mr. Rogers definitely defended the MAS employees. They need to be RETRAINED because you don’t know any better “if what you’ve been taught is wrong.”

    This reminds me of Michael Vick who has stated that where he lived fighting dogs was commonplace and that most people did it. He did not get retrained-he went to prison! Prison is where the MAS employees need to go also.

    Would anyone know what the criteria is for using prisoners? Do the prisoners have to have a non-violent criminal background? Who chooses them and are they being asked the right questions about animals? Who is supervising them? I would assume they need stricter supervison! If they have a smiliar upbringing as Michael Vick then I would not have them at MAS!

  11. @Jennifer The MAS does not have prisoners working there at all. The City of Memphis does have that “second chance” bull crap program for ladies and gentlemen who have a felony record, but that is not for people currently imprisoned at all.

    What is interesting is that there are some prisons which have training programs for way non violent offenders in that they learn to train seeing eye dogs and are sometimes foster parents to cats and dogs. I saw that on t.v. a while back. As high as that “put down” rate is at MAS, something like that might work in Memphis, at least where the foster program is concerned.

    Of course, though. If you read the Memphis Flyer, they are writing as though both the “put down” rate as well as the adoption rate are at a low. I kinda doubt that, but they are claiming it just the same. Maybe the MAS is far to busy having some kind of p.r. spin being put on things to think straight (still).

    Who knows.

    1. Yes, MAS has a “relationship” with the Shelby County Correctional Center. Mr. Rogers would like up to 6 people working at MAS who are inmates at the correctional center. They have some already, but not the complete number of 6 that he wants to have. So, yes, MAS has prisoners working there. I don’t know if that’s good or bad … but the “second chance” program is where Demetria Hogan came from and she worked at MAS.

      1. Hey, you never know, there might be some people from the prison who know that hurting pets is wrong. Worth a try, can’t possibly do any worse.

      2. @cynthiakrussell I most humbly stand corrected. I do not remember reading that on the Rotary Club report at all. Sorry about that. I literally hadn’t a clue that MAS had actual prisoners working there at all and thought they only had the “second chance” bull crap thing and that was it on that end. Sorry about that everyone.

      3. @merlinjones – this was something that was stated by Mr. Rogers at last night’s MAS Advisory Board meeting. I think it is something new – but readers who know volunteers or others who currently work at MAS will know better than me. It wasn’t on the Rotary Club report.

      4. Inmates ARE working at the shelter, cleaning cages. I haven’t seen them first-hand as I’ve quit volunteering, but folks who are still volunteering have confirmed they’re there. It’s a work-detail program, identical to the one our Humane Society here in Memphis currently uses for cleaning. From what I’ve heard, there’s a small number of inmates and they come with their own supervisors. I’m not sure how often they come, but again, from what I hear, it has had a very noticable effect on the cleanliness of cages.

    2. I have no issue with the 2nd chance program in general, but I do when it comes to working/being around living creatures all the time as your job. If the program got them to work at a place doing retail or office work or something like that, then that would be cool. But I have a problem with them being around animals and worrying about animal abuse just as much as I wouldnt want them to be working at a daycare and being around children. It just goes to show that whoever let these ex-cons work there just dont give a crap about animals because they dont see them as living creatures, since I highly doubt they would let them work in a daycare.

  12. I have no problems with prisoners working with animals as there are prison animal programs all over the country and they are doing great work. There has to be strict guidelines on who can participate though and the problems that MAS has with their own employees makes me doubt that it can handle a prison program!

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