Memphis News RoundUp and Commentary

The Memphis Flyer repeats the city’s claim of a 52% kill rate, which I debunked here, for January and February.  The article also notes that interim director James Rogers plans to have a dog agility course built at MAS so the dogs can be made more adoptable.  In reviewing the security camera footage, I found that on February 7, only 10 dogs were taken outside individually for a few minutes of off leash time.  This is great for those 10 dogs but completely unacceptable that the remainder of the canine population must stay in their cages 24/7.  Daily walks are essential for shelter dogs.  There are numerous physical and psychological benefits which all lead to healthier, more adoptable dogs.  This is why the item has been on my bullet point list for so long.

Since Mr. Rogers is not a pet owner and does not have any job experience with animals, it’s possible he does not realize that agility training is one of those things that takes time (a phrase I know he is familiar with).  It’s not uncommon for pet dogs to start out feeling hesitant or even scared of the agility equipment, let alone dogs already under severe stress such as at a shelter.  The fun part of agility comes from the bond between the handler and the dog as the training progresses over time.  I don’t see how this would be applicable to dogs at MAS, who mostly get held for 5 days and then put into the dumpster.  If Mr. Rogers is truly interested in making the dogs more adoptable, I hope he considers having the dogs walked every day.  Every dog – not just the lucky few.  If he is willing to announce that meaningful reform is in the works at MAS, I feel confident that people in the community would be willing to volunteer to walk the dogs.

From the piece in the Flyer:

Rogers admitted that supervision in the shelter isn’t as tight as he’d like it to be: “I’m looking to make sure our supervisors are trained. I want them to communicate up and down the corporate ladder.”

Please allow me to bypass your corporate ladder and communicate clearly right here and now:  You have animal abusers on your staff who have been caught on video hurting animals.


WREG looked at the personnel files of the 3 workers recently indicted on cruelty charges at MAS.  A surprise to no one with a brain, all 3 have a documented history of oops-kills and other violations.  There were suspensions in some cases, but none were ever fired.  Memphis animal advocate Cindy Sanders makes a good point:

Sanders also questions a lapse in write-ups.  The employees’ infractions all date from 2007-2009.  They were arrested in 2012, leaving a three-year gap.

“The employees went from being very bad, to absolutely nothing, and then to jail.  I think there’s a big part of this puzzle that’s left out,” Sanders said.


Reader Gwen Smith forwarded to city leaders my post which included a basic plan outline for reform at MAS along with an offer to Mr. Rogers to raise money to pay for a trip to the No Kill Conference in August.  She did not present the post as her own words but rather clearly sent it as being written by me, even my ugly mug on my Gravatar icon is included.  Mr. Rogers replied to her and since many of you have been asking about his level of interest in attending the conference, I wanted to share his response:

From: <>
Date: March 16, 2012 4:55:58 PM CDT
To:  Gwen Smith, <>, <>, <>
Cc: <>, <>
Subject: RE: [New post] These Things Take Time

Ms. Smith,


Thank you for the offer of paying for my travel and training to Washington DC for the No Kill Conference, however I must decline.

I have much to do here and can probably attend in the future.  I do believe there is much to learn and this conference can broaden my horizon.


Best Regards

James M. Rogers

Administrator, MAS

Clearly, Ms. Smith was not offering to pay for anyone’s travel to D.C.  That aside, I notice that Mr. Rogers is not including the word “interim” in his job title here and makes reference to attending the conference in future.  Since this is an annual conference, the next one will presumably be held in summer 2013.  Will Mr. Rogers still be running the pound then?

I want to reiterate that I don’t believe the animals can wait for meaningful reform at MAS.  If Mr. Rogers changes his mind and decides to attend the No Kill Conference, I’m still willing to help.  But the conference is likely to sell out soon and so the offer can’t stand indefinitely.  I hope he will reconsider.  It’s only one weekend but the information available to be learned at the conference could be put to use for many years of lifesaving at MAS.

13 thoughts on “Memphis News RoundUp and Commentary

  1. You are so right about agility. Who, I wonder, will work the agility course and will dogs be killed faster because they resist something so strange?
    For two years, I had weekly dog walker volunteers here at Silverwalk. Even though these dogs are out in an acre field and yards daily and in my home other times, the difference these walkers made in the lives of these dogs was incredible. Simply walking with different people on a regular basis….one of the best uses of volunteers for us and certainly for MAS.

  2. Oh Shirley, I wish I could attach the lovely Agility/DogPark/ whatever the heck they are calling it this week they have at Sonoma County’s Animal Shelter. Up until recently the only living being I ever saw in it…was a human smoking. While in the building attached to it you could here the dogs barking with crazed desperation of “Get me the Hell out of here”.

    I justly recently complained about it again and begged at least let some of the dogs play in this area with other dogs. One it gives the dogs some much needed socialization both with dogs and humans. Two it makes your Shelter look much friendlier, not the depressing heartless place, I personally think it is.

    Whether this Director took my advice or someone else’s, I have now witnesses on two visits, dogs out there with volunteers playing and socializing. Finally after years of that whatever you want to call a waste of money, is being utilized. Hooray for the dogs in this County facility!

  3. I’ve worked in groups where things were being changed. People who are changing things communicate, early and often, with all the stakeholders. The difference is dramatic and so are the results.

    What Rogers is doing is not real communication. It’s avoidance. In most groups, the stakes are not so high. But here, the stakes are life and death . . . literally, every day Rogers refuses to list the pets online and do the other things in the “These Things Take Time” post, he’s choosing to kill animals that are in his care. It’s incomprehensible that someone with the power to make these changes would, instead, be so passive.

    He knows what to do. He just won’t do it.

  4. I think a good place to start would be to have compassionate employees,it would be a win-win,for the animals,workerS and management.It also helps not have employees who behave worse than the animals! This place needs to let a little light in- These little monsters in the guise of shelter helpers manage to keep this place in the dark ages-and bring attention from all over the world for all the wrong reasons-Clear the air-fire their asses,and let that place breathe!

  5. I am in wait and see mode but a bit more optimistic after talking to Mr. Rogers Thursday evening at the shelter. I think he understands what Chameleon can do to manage the animals at the shelter. He has upgraded to the current version and everything is being barcoded and data is being looked at. I am hopeful we will see animals on Pet Harbor in the next few weeks.

    If he cannot go to the conference, maybe we can bring a few people from other cities here?

      1. More than they had at the Adversary Board meeting last week. How absurd was that. The board has got to squelch the voices of those people that want to save animals lives now, don’t they? Because after all, this board except for one lone member has been trying to protect the shelter, not the animals.

  6. There is no defense of cruelty in any situation and most especially not in an animal shelter. This advisory board is useless. Instead of working for what is best for the animals they are determined to leave the animals out of the equation and defend employees who clearly do not belong working with those innocent creatures. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

  7. How can so few dogs be walked in a day? Were these dogs being walked by employees or volunteers? Are there not enough employees and/or volunteers so the dogs can be walked? Would anyone know if potential adopters are allowed to walk the dogs?

    1. I should clarify my statement to say that all the footage has not been reviewed yet so it’s possible more dogs may have been walked (although I don’t expect that the remaining footage contains evidence of dog walking due to locations). If that turns out to be the case, I will update the blog. The dogs I saw were walked by vols. IDK the answer to your question about potential adopters being allowed to walk dogs but I would offer that every dog at MAS appears to be DANGEROUS in the eyes of the employees so if the public is allowed to walk them, are they provided with chokepoles and abusive handling method training first? Or is the public just allowed to take their chances with the beasts and given an ordinary leash? I’d hate to think that all poor Joe Public has to defend himself from these rabid canines is a kennel lead, some kind words, and normal human decency. It must be a bloodbath there every day.

  8. Id LIKE to think that Rogers is trying to do the right thing by the Pet Harbor, the agility course and saying that he has a lot to do at the shelter (rather than saying something like “oh I cant, Im just not interested in their welfare”). Im trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. So far hes doing more than Pepper did, he wouldnt even get back to you LOL I swear if Rogers does what hes supposed to do and the shelter is running smooth I will buy him a nice dinner (lol. Im laughing but Im serious)

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