These Things Take Time

When discussing shelter reform, we often hear that we must be patient and allow management time to make improvements at the shelter.  In some areas, I agree that this is reasonable.  For example, it takes time to amend the union contract which covers staff.  It takes time to update an employee manual.  It takes time to get employees to continuing education classes.  It takes time to institute the programs of the No Kill Equation.

But this is not to say that the time allowance should be open-ended or to be considered in any way a pass on requiring accountability.  Nor should these reasonable allowances be used as an excuse to avoid taking immediate action where the well being of shelter pets is concerned.  Some things can not wait for months, weeks, days or even hours.

I offer that the most urgent issue at any shelter is the suffering and killing of pets.  There can be no more pressing matter for any shelter director than putting an immediate and unequivocal end to the abuse and killing of animals at the facility.  If abuse is suspected of happening at any shelter, rooting out the abusers must be the top priority.  If there is solid evidence of animal cruelty, such as is the case in Memphis, the abusers must be removed from having contact with animals immediately.  There is no retraining, no policy manual update, no test score that can reform someone who doesn’t inherently know it’s wrong to hurt animals.  They must be immediately removed from having contact with animals and criminal charges should be considered by the authorities.

If the leadership in Memphis is truly interested in bringing meaningful reform to the pound, I offer a basic plan for consideration which can be fleshed out and expanded upon as appropriate.

1.  Stop the abuse.  Immediately remove those workers who are documented on video abusing pets.  Turn their cases over to the DA and request a review for criminal charges.  Suspend the use of chokepoles until the remaining and newly hired staff (after the abusers have been removed) can be trained on their proper use by a knowledgeable trainer.

2.  Stop the killing.  Immediately end the practice of killing healthy/treatable pets.

3.  Shout it from the rooftops.  Hold a press conference, reach out to local and out of state rescue groups, former and potential volunteers, all forms of media, and the general public to announce that MAS has removed the abusers and ended the killing.  Let people know that MAS is implementing every program of the No Kill Equation and that they are part of those programs.  Tell the public that help is needed, wanted, appreciated and will be accepted in order to save the pets who are at MAS today and while the city works to get the No Kill Equation programs fully functional.

4.  Utilize the Chameleon software to upload every pet at MAS to PetHarbor.  This can be done immediately, with no extra effort, since MAS is already using the program but purposefully preventing the pet listings from being uploaded to PetHarbor.  Simply stop preventing the uploads.

5.  Open up the shelter to the public 7 days a week.  In order to get people in the door and pets out the door to foster, rescue and permanent homes, MAS needs to be open when the public can get there.  This means both weekend days and every weekday.

6.  Open up the entire shelter to the public.  Save for obvious rare exceptions such as rabies quarantine or sick pets under treatment who can not tolerate visitors in their present condition, all pets at the shelter should be available for people to see and touch.  Petting and holding animals is how people fall in love.  Let them.

7.  Put the security camera feeds from the areas which show animals online for the public to view.  This will reassure potential donors, volunteers, foster homes and others that they are contributing to a transparent and positive effort to reform MAS.  And it offers a measure of protection for the animals who have been abused at MAS in the past.

8.  Attend the No Kill Conference on August 11-12 in Washington D.C.  I have offered privately to help raise funds for the new interim director to attend if he has an interest but he did not reply.  The offer stands.  Attending the conference provides an opportunity to hear from open admission shelter directors and rescuers who save more than 90% of their pets.  In addition, there are many other workshops which would provide valuable and useful information for MAS.

These things take time.  We get it.  But some things take no time at all (such as utilizing the PetHarbor upload capability from Chameleon) and other things can not wait (such as animals being abused and killed).  Pet advocates would be eager and very willing to support MAS in the long haul if we were given a reason to believe that meaningful reform was happening.  Removing the animal abusers and stopping the killing at MAS would give me a reason to believe.

I would love to offer my support to Memphis as the city transforms the shelter.  Give me some hard-to-place pets to post.  Give me some public security camera feeds to watch so I can see that the pets at MAS aren’t being hurt anymore.  Give me something to believe in.

I’m available to believe in you now, Memphis.  I don’t need time.  I’m ready to help you this hour – this minute.  What is the city of Memphis prepared to do right now?



16 thoughts on “These Things Take Time

  1. I completely agree with everything you have said. I work for a large manufacturing company in the HR Department. As I do all of the recruiting, discliplinary actions and terminations, I am very familiar with the hiring and firing. Granted, we are not union. However, I believe that there is clear cut – black and white – evidence of abuse by the shelter workers at MAS. This is an obvious violation of policy and what I would think of as gross misconduct. Any company, private or public, would terminate their employee immediately if what they were doing is illegal. So, why hasn’t MAS terminated their abusive employees? Are they afraid of taking on the Union Reps? Honestly, I don’t think that is the reason.

    I still feel that the corruption in Memphis starts with the Mayor or even higher up with his boss. Something is going on in that city that they do not want the general public to find out about and it involves MAS. Dog fighting ring? Selling animals to research labs? I hope the truth comes out and soon.

    In the mean time, any hiring manager and that includes the hiring manager for the employees at MAS, can bring in temporary workers to fill in the gaps at MAS while the bad ones are routed out. The jobs at MAS do not involve a high skill level. At the most they would require a high school education. What the jobs most require is a sense of compassion, a concern for animals if not a love for animals and a strong work ethic. How many people in Memphis would fit these requirements and would love to work at MAS? I am certain there are many. The pay is high for an entry-level position and probably the benefits would be icing on the cake.

    Creating a new policy, handbook, etc. does take time, but not that much time. All they need to us adjust the one they already have. That would take what, two weeks at the most? The delay is in the red tape involved in getting the policies approved. Put the fire under their butts and let them know there is a deadline. That’s where the Mayor comes into play, right? Well, you would think.

    Finally, like you said, get the message out to the public, the rescues, fosters and adopters that MAS is cleaning house. Open up and let the people in to help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help (unless you are hiding something). How more plainly can we on this blog and advocates in Memphis shout that we WILL help. We will do everything in our power to help MAS reach the No Kill Equaition even if it takes a few years.

    I just have to keep shaking my head in wonder at what it is exactly that is preventing the governing authorities in Memphis from doing what they know is ethical and moral.

  2. would anyone be interested a rally on May 12 at MAS? The more people that can attend the better?

  3. Does anyone know if Mr. Rogers has met with/talked to the local rescue groups, yet? These people are his allies, so I would think that it would be important to align with them as soon as possible.

    And they can help him not only with what they do every day, but also with linking him to breed specific rescues, transports, etc. with which they have contacts.

    1. I also think this is a key indicator, mikken. The Memphis-area rescue community is a major stakeholder, yet unless I am missing something, Rogers has not reached out to them. Why not? Rogers doesn’t have shelter experience and rescuers could help him understand what is important from their perspective — not just stopping the abuse and killing, but operationally, what would best help them move pets through the shelter and into homes in the community.

      Have rescuers requested a meeting with Rogers? I hope so. In fact, I hope they request a series of meetings, one meeting every two weeks for six months, with lots of action items that will move the shelter forward. A public meeting every three months isn’t going to get the job done. This will take a ton of in-person communication.

      Unfortunately, though, communication has been a problem with the new interim director from the start. I was concerned about this because his prior experience didn’t seem to have a component of communicating with the public. He will need to fix that, and forging strong ties with the rescue community is a way to start. Does he even know that the rescue community is far bigger than Jeanne Chancellor?

  4. A rally is being planned for May 12, 2012, nationwide, to shine the light of transparency on the abuses in animal shelters. If someone would consider being the rep for MAS it would be appreciated. Time is of the essence for planning purposes. It would need to be someone who actually lives in Memphis and, even better, NEAR this shelter. Please consider becoming a rep so this shelter can get the notoriety nationally it so richly deserves. I am on facebook as JT SAVE LENNOX Waldie or

    1. I would participate, and could probably get a few other folks from Clarksville to attend as well.

      1. thank you Lorraine…this is exactly what I was hoping to see!!! Would you care to be the rep for MAS rally…can you contact me at This rally is going to be nationwide on May 12!

  5. I read your posts daily and wondered if anyone knows the new Memphis Shelter’s e mail? Seems like he should see the suggestions your making. The MAS is in a mess and the citizens of Memphis seem to be outraged as I am yet it continues and continues. How do we contact him?

  6. For the life of me I just cannot figure out why the upload to Pet Harbor isn’t happening. From what I’ve read, it would be SO easy to do. Talk about your low-hanging fruit on the way to making some positive changes!

    I am a big fan of Petfinders. For a high volume shelter with LOTS of available pets, using PF’s easy app to add a “pet scroller” to the FoMAS FB page is another no-brainer to me. Benefits include:

    1. More potential adopters; not everyone does FB. There are thousands of people who browse PF looking for their next pet.

    2. Increased exposure for ALL available pets; pets that aren’t cute enough or young enough to merit a special feature on the FoMas FB wall would still be visible to someone looking for an older, scruffier, less photogenic pet (I like old and scruffy)

    3. Reduction in time it takes to administer the FB page; update your PF listing and your FB page is automatically updated. That has potential to free up valuable volunteer time (even tho’ I suspect the current FoMAS FB page has only one administrator who isn’t so keen on finding extra time to, you know, take care of the pets).

    1. If the animals were posted on a website, they could be networked and many more could be saved! Is MAS not familiar with networking shelter animals?

      Are the dogs posted on Petfinder current dogs, meaning still available? There is a PB Akita and I wondered if anyone contacted an Akita rescue.

      What about the Friends of the Memphis Shelter Facebook page- they need to have an album page with just the photos of the animals that are available for adoption! All that they have is the Wall Photos. It takes too long to determine which dogs are still available and which ones have been adopted!

      1. Pet advocates have told MAS contacts approximately 500,000 times about networking pets online and how it saves pets’ lives. They don’t seem to care. No idea if the few dogs posted on Petfinder are available/adopted/dead. The “Friends” page is apparently admin’d by a single person who blocks anyone who isn’t down with hanging puppies so there is little info about how that page is run.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with this whole post. I feel like they say ‘it takes time’ so they can drag their feet on this. But everything you said doesn’t take time at all. In fact, it will save them time in the long-run and it’s what’s in the best interest of the animal. They just don’t care. Same ole catch and kill philosophy.

    On a sidenote, I’d be willing to chip-in too if Rogers is willing to go to the NK conference. He seems- SEEMS- like he is more open to change than Pepper was so I would be chipping in on good faith for Rogers. In the meantime, maybe someone can donate a Redemption book to give to him in case he doesn’t/can’t go? Does he go to the shelter often? Just a thought.

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