MAS: A House of Cards

You can not send out a memo or announce at a staff meeting, “I simply will not tolerate a lack of compassion from anyone any longer.”  It doesn’t work that way.  For people to feel empathy and sympathy for other living beings, they have to actually have those feelings within themselves.  It’s not a hard hat you can begrudgingly don to meet a safety standard.  It’s not a test you can fail and retake over and over until you score the desired grade.  It’s not a oh-shoot-the-boss-is-coming-everybody-feel-empathy type of thing.  No amount of foot-putting-down will instill this virtue into those who lack it.

Sure, you might be able to force someone into giving the appearance of humane treatment to pets when they know they are being watched.  But that is not compassion.  That is merely a sham, a show for the cameras, if you will.  A person who does that will have no commitment to lifesaving nor will they show mercy any time they believe they can get away with it.  Still, it may be good enough for some.  It’s not where I would set the bar if I was running an animal shelter but perhaps meaningless facades are your thing.

But here is where we come to a fork in the road.  There are some animal shelter workers who lack compassion but can possibly be forced into treating pets humanely when directly supervised in order to keep their jobs.  And then there are animal abusers.

Animal abusers prey upon voiceless victims and get a thrill out of hurting them.  They will do more work than is necessary in order to hurt animals.  They will go out of their way for the opportunity to inflict pain and suffering upon them.  They are evil incarnate and to knowingly keep them on staff at a shelter is unethical. Moreover, putting forth the notion that animal abusers can be retrained to show kindness to sentient beings – whom they view as potential victims – is playing with fire.

There will never be meaningful reform at MAS until every animal abuser is removed.  And until that day, pets will continue to suffer.  Those enabling the abusers share equally in the blame.  No one at MAS can ever say again, “I never saw any abuse” or “I don’t work in that area where the abuse occurs” or “Pet advocates take things out of context and exaggerate”.  It’s public information, available for all to see.  It’s been seen by those with the ability to do something about it but no action has been taken.  There will apparently be no justice for the pets abused on the security camera footage.  And it’s supposed to all be ok because now there’s been a class to teach the professional animal handlers about how to use a goddamn leash.

Sorry, no sale.


19 thoughts on “MAS: A House of Cards

  1. Heck, I’d be fine at this point if they would just teach them the proper way to use a catch pole — which doesn’t involve dragging a dog behind you on it.

    1. I hope no one honestly believes they HAVE NEVER BEEN TAUGHT how to properly use a control pole. Obviously they have. They choose to use it as a weapon. They were taught again yesterday. You know, in case they forgot that it’s not actually intended to cause pain and suffering.

    1. I’ll chipin for the March 23 (or subsequent) video. Everyone should be on their best behavior the day after training.

  2. Look up “hell-hole” in the dictionary and there’s a good chance you’ll find Memphis Animal Shelter. At the very least, you’ll see a partial description of them. And it’s only partial because they cannot possibly describe the inhumane treatment that some MAS workers inflict upon the animals, who are living, loving beings created by God. I fear not much will change under the new interim director, no matter how many training classes he holds. I wish I knew how to change that, because I’d be a “witch on wheels” straight to their door!

  3. Well…if Mr. Rogers is watching the cameras and a “lack of compassion will no longer be tolerated”, then the firings should start coming fast and hard because there’s no way some of those ACOs can manage “compassion” even for the cameras with any consistency.

    Cruelty has become a way of life for them. We’ve seen time and again how the workers at MAS walk right past abusive acts without so much as blinking an eye…

    1. We hear a lot about how it’s almost impossible to fire unionized shelter workers, but Wharton himself said that one-third of the employees at MAS had been terminated over the last two years. So, clearly, it’s possible to get rid of them. And maybe this is Rogers’s approach . . . training with documentation (publicity), then detailed follow-up to lay the groundwork for termination. Even if he succeeds, though, it will take a long time.

      And meanwhile, shelter pets are still being killed at MAS, unless Rogers has taken drastic steps to market them. I think we would know if that had happened.

      Again, communication with the right people (the rescue community) is lacking. Unless the numbers for March show a very different story, this incremental approach of only trying to correct employee behavior will not get the job done. Rogers needs to be working actively with the people who can actually help him save animals’ lives, and he just doesn’t seem to be doing that. What an awful waste of such an important opportunity.

      1. I completely agree, Karen F.

        What is the update on the 3 who were arrested? They are still on ‘paid leave’? Are they ever going to be officially gone from the record? I dont even care if the MAS workers get reprimanded at this point (though it would be nice) so long as they are GONE and they start fresh.

      2. Ah, no, maybe about 4 employees have been fired. However, I have been invited to a private tour of the facilityh (or should I say guided tour) by Mr. Rogers himself, because I send these posts to my MAS contacts list. So, I will let you know what the outcome is,and camera and camcorder will be in tow.

  4. Like we’ve always said:


  5. Forwarded the post about the dog with the cough and hole in leg to my MAS contacts and, inquired as to what they think now? NO water, cough, hole in leg. What else, chopped off tails, ears? I am going to forward this one as well. I will keep forwarding until something is done. Retraining ain’t gonna do diddly squat. I wrote in a previous email to them that retraining is not the answer, hire some 5, 7, and 9 year olds since they know better how to properly take care of animals. This is horrendous and uncalled for. Bet that poor dog will be dead by tomorow. So sad.

  6. For some reason this makes me think of when an animal abuser is sentenced to work at an animal shelter for community service. Would you sentence a child abuser to work at a nursery? You can retrain ignorance, but cruelty is something inborn.

  7. Triangle…..Memphis would hire a child abuser to work at a nursery….that’s a prerequisite for hiring at MAS, ie: second chance felons….if there is a nursery that the city government pays for it can hire anyone they want to and then they become part of the city union….UNTOUCHABLE..until the action is so grievous that they are put on paid leave…It will never change until the proper employees are hired and until adoptions become the emphasis…when I stop and think about the number animals abused and killed over all the years that MAS has functioned it is so overwhelming that I get sick at my stomach….How many years has this been discussed and known and how much longer is it going to take and WHAT ON EARTH IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO RID THIS CITY OF THIS BLIGHT?

  8. The workers who abused these poor creatures can’t be changed.
    However, those of us who are humane can do a lot to help stop this craziness. We have to spay or neuter every pet we can. The number one cause of death to companion pets is by euthansia (human hands). There are too many dogs and cats and this opens them up to be unwanted and therefore abused.

    1. Sorry, but that won’t do the animals who are at MAS right now a damn bit of good. Those animals are alive now, need help now and deserve compassion and care now.

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