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:
Date: March 16, 2012 4:55:58 PM CDT
To: Gwen Smith, <Myron.Lowery@memphistn.gov>, <Edmund.Fordjr@memphistn.gov>, <Shea.Flinn@memphistn.gov>
Cc: <Janet.Hooks@memphistn.gov>, <LaSonya.Hall@memphistn.gov>
Subject: RE: [New post] These Things Take Time
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.
James M. Rogers
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.