Who Should Be Fighting for the Animals at MAS?

If the staff members are abusing and killing animals at the Memphis pound, who should be advocating for them?  While members of the public can and should contact city leaders in Memphis demanding meaningful reform and an end to the abuse and killing of pets at MAS, most citizens are unaware of the day to day needs of shelter pets, never mind having knowledge that these needs aren’t being met.

But there is a group of people who are at the pound regularly, who see the conditions the animals are kept in and how the staff treats them, and who could use their influence to fight for improvements:  the volunteers.  One of those volunteers is even on the Advisory Board, making that person’s obligation to advocate for the animals at MAS even greater.

The volunteers at MAS should at least be fighting for the basic daily needs of the animals to be met.  These include:

  • Vaccination upon intake
  • Appropriate amount and frequency of food and clean water
  • Clean cages
  • Soft bedding and toys (dogs)
  • Walks (dogs)
  • Life – that is, fighting to get healthy pets adopted/rescued/fostered, fighting to get veterinary care for pets who need it, and resisting all excuses made for the killing of healthy/treatable pets by continually challenging those excuses and offering proven alternatives.

As far as I know, none of the dogs at MAS have soft bedding.  Old dogs with sore joints, mama dogs with nursing pups, dogs with skin conditions, injured dogs, scared dogs – all dogs are forced to lie on the floor or on those awful steel grates with unsanitary holes in them.

A mere 10 dogs got walked on the February 7 security camera footage that was obtained.  I have no idea if 10 dogs get walked every day but it seems a reasonable assumption that most dogs at MAS do not get walked.  Make no mistake – this is the hallmark of a lousy shelter.  Daily walks for all dogs is not optional.  It provides exercise, companionship, and stimulation necessary for emotional well being.  It also helps relieve stress, which increases immune response, making the population more resistant to disease.

Another hallmark of rotten shelters is failure to vaccinate all animals upon intake.  MAS says they “have to” kill animals due to sickness yet they don’t take the most basic step to prevent it: vaccination.  This is not optional for shelter pets – they absolutely must be vaccinated immediately upon impound, if not sooner (such as in the field or in advance of an owner surrendering a pet).

The volunteers are at the shelter, seeing what goes on every day.  They have considerable influence to wield, as has been demonstrated repeatedly.  They should be fighting for at least these most basic needs and rights of the animals at MAS.  Why aren’t they?

A nursing dam and litter on the floor at the Memphis pound. Photo by Angie White.

25 thoughts on “Who Should Be Fighting for the Animals at MAS?

  1. You specifically mention that the dogs need soft beding and toys. Does that mean that the cats have those things? Are the cats being treated better then the dogs?

    1. I can’t say with any certainty Daniela but based upon the security camera footage I saw, the cats seemed to be in much better shape than the dogs. The staff did not interact with them at all on February 7. All the cleaning, petting, playing and companionship was provided by one caring volunteer.

      1. The cats have it made. Unless things have changed in the 2+ months I’ve been gone, MAS employees had absolutely nothing to do with the cats. That area was solely maintained by volunteers. Again, I quit some time ago, so this may have changed.

      2. It is really really sad when animals are considered to be treated well because the people who are supposed to take care of them completely neglect them. Until MAS has some reform I hope they keep up with the neglect and if any volunteers are reading – THANK YOU FOR CARING!

      3. When the people supposed to be taking care of them can be seen on video abusing them and the director does NOTHING in response, it’s better that the staff has nothing to do with them. But you did remind me of those poor surgery cats who were neglected all day long – no food, no water, no cleaning, no attention – not even a light turned on in their dark room all day.

  2. I have signed the petitions, and will sitting down this week to write letters every little bit helps. This is not right these animals are treated like they are a piece of meat. These employees have no compassions for life. They need to be treated the same way they treat these animals. :(

  3. Something else the volunteers should be doing – photographing all animals. Not just the “lucky 30” or whatever that ends up on PetFinder, ALL OF THE ANIMALS. Decent photos that can actually identify an animal and help people find lost pets, help people say, “Hey, that is a good looking dog!” or “That cat looks just like my Pookie from when I was a kid! I think I’ll go down there tomorrow and see him!”

    Mr. Rogers wants to increase positive outcomes? Get the volunteers photographing EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL that comes through there and tie that photo to a bit of information about that animal (where it was found, friendly, shy, medical issues, came in with kittens, etc.)

    Clearly the paid staff are having difficulty with the concept of decent photos, so get some volunteers in there to help.

      1. I’m having difficulty with the concept that the “paid staff” even gets paid for what they do…

    1. There is only one volunteer who updates the Facebook page and the PetFinder account. She will not let anyone help her with pictures. Countless offers have been made. Her reply every single time is, “I’ve got it.” Extremely frustrating. She loves posting pictures of dogs and cats getting adopted, but what good does that do? They’ve already found homes. There is no excuse for not taking pictures of every single dog and cat in the building when said volunteer is at the shelter every minute it’s open to the public.

      1. That facebook page and the Petfinder site do not belong to the city. MAS should have their own facebook page.

      2. Now with the “Timeline” on FB she has a new reason not to post pictures. She has to “figure it out.” There have been hardly any photos posted and it’s even more difficult to weed through them to figure out if a dog is still there, or not.

  4. ‘Her reply every single time is, “I’ve got it.”’

    No, you don’t, Jeanne. And you’re actively blocking people who want to help.

  5. What about other volunteers take photos and posting these to: A NEW Facebook page just for these shelter animals, to craigslist, to Adopt-A-Pet, on fliers posted about this city, in email messages, and on posters in local businesses?

  6. Most kill shelters that I know about only have a tiny amount of people that volunteer, as many people do not want or can deal with the idea of a shelter that kills most of its animals. This tiny group of people can not handle doing all that you say should be done to help the shelter pets. And the ones that speak up are usually asked to not come back.

    1. Well I guess they’ll have to let in the unwashed masses to volunteer then! No more “firing” volunteers who advocate for the animals’ right to live.

    2. I volunteered 10-15 hours a week at MAS on top of my full-time job and other commitments. I did marketing work/donation solicitation (all donations I got are sitting in a storage room at the new shelter, there were never used for anything) at home for FMAS, in addition to the 10-15 hours physically at the shelter. Once I realized I would never be able to, you know, actually make a difference there, I quit. I’m starting with two local rescue groups in the coming weeks.

      Oh, and a volunteer started her own Facebook page around this time last year, “Memphis Animal Services Volunteers.” It was great. She posted pics and videos of adotable dogs and cats, and pics of those in healthy hold with cage card info included. The volunteer who runs FMAS had this page shut down with a quickness by getting the city attorney involved.

      1. I feel embarrassed for Mr. Morris, the city attorney. I bet when he was taking the bar exam he had dreams and aspirations of doing big things. Now he has to chase after bloggers and get FB pages shut down at the mayor’s whim. That’s gotta suck. I mean, my job isn’t glamorous but I don’t have to do THAT.

      2. What happened to Freedom of Speech? FMAS doesn’t have any patent do they? Anyone should be able to advocate for animals.

        Since FMAS has a section of their fb for recommendations, maybe people should be making recommendations there.

  7. This is still so sad and unbelievable to me that after years of this going on (maybe even longer) that they would rather do things the wrong way instead of the right way, even if it takes the same amount of time, if not less. Are they that prideful?

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