Even the Chosen Few are Not Immune at MAS

The Memphis pound, like many others, mislabels dogs as Pitbulls/mixes regularly.  A couple of examples from PetHarbor (click to enlarge):

At MAS, a dog who is labeled a Pitbull type stands a greatly diminished chance of being adopted.  For starters, the city targets Pitbull types for killing and very few ever get offered to the public.  For the lucky few who make it to the adoption floor, their chances are limited by the fact that the pound requires a background check and a fence inspection for Pitbull adopters.  The person wanting to adopt must have a 6 foot fence of a type deemed appropriate by a Memphis ACO, provided the ACO can get out to the person’s home to inspect.  If not, the adopter is out of luck – and so is the dog.

The fence we have would not qualify and I know the same is true for many pet owners.  Even if it did, I’m not particularly keen on giving my personal info to a place with multiple animal cruelty charges pending against staff members so they can check my background.  I’m all for checking adoption applicants for previous animal cruelty charges but beyond that, what business is it of anyone there and what relevance does it have to one’s ability to take care of a dog?

The adoption requirements should be the same for every pet at MAS – a state issued ID, a completed adoption application and a check for animal cruelty convictions.  Placing special restrictions on a certain type of dog is breed bias and when the “breed” is as loosely defined as Pitbull/mix, it seems to be applied haphazardly, to the detriment of the dogs at the pound.

All of which brings me to a beautiful puppy named Moonbeam at MAS.  She was mislabeled a Pitbull mix but still lucky enough to make it to the adoption floor.  The only form of marketing that was done for her to my knowledge was a post on the Facebook page belonging to the “Friends” group on July 13, 2012.  She was not taken to any offsite adoption events (since MAS very rarely participates in any) nor was she included in any pleas to rescue groups (since MAS very rarely sends any).  This post, since deleted, was her only chance to be seen by someone who might have a 6 foot fence and be willing to submit to a background check and have an ACO come to their property for an inspection:

Screengrab of a now deleted post from the “Friends” of MAS Facebook page (click to enlarge)

For comparison purposes, I include this dog on the MAS PetHarbor site this morning, who is labeled a Border Collie/Lab (ignore the “chocolate point” coloring description):

Screengrab from PetHarbor.com (click to enlarge)

I don’t know if anyone wanted to adopt Moonbeam and was discouraged by the Pitbull mix label and/or the special hoops they were required to jump through in order to give her a home. But I do know that she is dead – killed by the very people who should have protected her. Killed on July 23, just 10 days after the FB posting above, due to “time/space”. In an effort to cover up the needless killing of this beautiful puppy, the cowards who call themselves the “Friends of MAS” deleted her post from their FB page, as they do with all the pets who end up in the dumpster at MAS.  They refuse to acknowledge the mass slaughter of pets at the pound and they certainly aren’t going to answer questions about it.  Better to just delete-delete-delete.

But I won’t let Moonbeam be deleted.  She was real.  She was alive.  She was just a baby.

The “Friends” put a flower collar on Moonbeam and took her picture, then posted her with the mislabled “Pitbull mix”, saying the special requirements for adopters were “for her protection”.  The “Friends” failed to challenge that the puppy was not a Pitbull mix.  Even worse, they failed to challenge the breed discrimination that was limiting her chances of adoption, and instead promoted it as some sort of benefit to the puppy.  And finally, when she was killed a week and a half later, the “Friends” attempted to cover up the killing by deleting Moonbeam’s post.  With “Friends” like these, it’s no wonder MAS continues to flail in the ditch year after year.

I’m sorry you were so completely and utterly failed at every level Moonbeam.  You were a pretty little girl who deserved so much better than what you got from MAS and its “Friends”.  You had a right to grow up and to be loved and to live and tragically, no one at the pound was advocating for your rights.  Rest in peace, sweet pup.

How many more, Memphis?

26 thoughts on “Even the Chosen Few are Not Immune at MAS

  1. All of the “friends of” various kill shelters feel they must cowtow to their fascist animal shelter regime or be banned. If the shelter feels slightly offended (ie the truth is being told) ( and make no mistake it’s all about them and their “feelings” and not the pets welfare as a priority) they will eliminate the source of their angst – the volunteers and any of their life saving efforts.The shelters attack the place it hurts the most – marketing of the pets on FB. It isn’t the shelter taking those beautiful photos with the inviting descriptions, it’s the “friends”. I read about this almost every single day. Two immediate cases come to mind, one was in Gwinnett County GA where the volunteers spoke up and were estopped from taking pictures, having the friends page for them on FB and assisting with petfinder etc and the recent incident in Roanoke (which in a rare course of events backfired on the shelter) http://fixnc.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/roanoke-valley-spca-may-regret-banning-volunteer-over-photos The volunteers whose priorities are in the right order, know that this marketing on FB is in most instances the only chance these pets have to get out alive at all. They throw up in their mouths just a little – but they swallow it in order to not get suspended and worse have the only chance these babies have to survive eliminated. They are in a conundrum for sure. In life the one that cares the most will usually lose to the one that doesn’t care and is in authority. It doesn’t matter that there is a Federal law prohibiting these vindictive actions (Section 1983) because most volunteers exist in the here and now and can’t wait for the slow grind of the legal system, because every minute is another pet wrongfully killed, can’t afford an attorney, and are not political, and shy away from the legal adversity. Sure some have cognitive dissonance and drink the shelter kool aid but most are just trying to walk on eggshells for the privilege of doing these bastards jobs for them at no pay and in fact spending much of their own money to insure every pet possible gets saved. http://www.facebook.com/petadvocatesnetwork

    1. I am an attorney that has done pro bono for No Kill organizations and some of these volunteers and know first hand all sides of the equation. In addition I authored GARA – Georgia Animal Rescue Act that was introduced to the GA legislature this past session. I am the last person to make excuses for enablers however these volunteers are not usually enablers and working within the system the only way they can at the moment to save more lives. I thank the lord for these brave rescuers/volunteers and what they put up with to continue their work. Was Sophie to blame for making “Sophie’s Choice?” I guess she could have let both her kids die by standing on principle. However given her constraints at the moment she did the only thing she could -which was at least save one. If they all act belligerent or insistent on changing even something minor the shelters disallow them to continue with their efforts on FB, at offsites, on petfinders, and then kill pets they know have rescue out of spite. So would you prefer this ?Keep in mind it does result in many more animals being killed. That is not the answer. The only answer it to act politically.The system has to change via political routes. No amount of grandstanding other than this will result in shelter reform. Shelter reform advocates, no kill advocates must confront the current administration the only way they fear. Pacs and 501 c 4’s have to be formed and candidates supported that will embrace and enact No Kill solutions. We can talk about the shelter horrors everyday and blame the volunteers ( the only current hope the shelter animals have) but that raising of public awareness will not be what turns the tide. It never has it never will. The only way the entrenched dysfunctional shelter regime will be altered is when meaningful legislation gets passed, new blood with power gets voted in or the current politicans feel the real threat of being voted out unless the they cater to and implement what their constituents demand. Or more specifically what the PAC which can be comprised of a small amount of people politically forces them to do through electioneering and sometimes lobbying. Only a few votes are needed to sway small elections and the PACS can handle that. Then and only then will you see real change. This is what we need to focus our efforts on for real effect.

      1. The “Friends” group at MAS bullies and runs off anyone who advocates for the pets. They have a long and sordid history of enabling there. They are hardly making a “Sophie’s Choice” – rather, they are letting both of Sophie’s children be killed then sweeping up the blood on the floor and using fake internet personas to spam social media with comments about how wonderful those doing the killing are.

  2. Ok Shirley then that is a different story and they are part of the regime. I have not found that to be the case in most of the shelters I deal with. So we need to specify it is intrinsic to that shelter and not generalize. Trust me I am plagued with mentally ill or cultist sock puppets too and it is annoying and distracting. However, my points about making change in the political avenues I specified would be even more relevant there not less as the regime is just that much more corrupt.

    1. Ali Hector – thank you for your posts. I’ve been Director of 2 Animal Control Departments in Tennessee – and I have seen what volunteers have had to do to save ANY animals at these facilities. It has been horribly difficult to make changes even with staff members…even when saving is easier…these mindsets to euthanize are so mentality ingrained. Animals are classified as personal property like a shoe or a chair and are considered disposable. I absolutely agree that Legislation is the answer. Nothing long term or lasting will change unless the laws do.

      1. Thank you Karen. I don’t often hear a director of AC make those types of admissions. Are you still in AC somewhere?

  3. And yes I have combated those sociopaths giving perverse accolades to the Memphis shelter ( not knowing they are the nefarious “friends”) and in fact posted some of their lunatic incredulous ravings on your blog if you recall as well as my rational answers to them.

      1. Hi Dot. I am in Atlanta, GA but would be happy to share pertinent information with any group that wanted to address this. I also recommend my good friend Julie Lewin, President of http://www.nifaa.org and author of “Get Political For Animals And Win The Laws They Need” She also holds online seminars and does in depth consulting for animal advocate groups.

      2. Thank you so much for your reply. I live in NC, so I’m not much help either, but I’ll be watching for any news on what I can do to help.. Please keep your in-put coming.. We need all the help we can get to help the animals in every State.

        I also have some things going on at my local shelter and I could use some advice.

  4. RIP Moonbeam – you were a beautiful puppy and never had a chance to grow up.
    I cannot print the hateful things I am thinking about the people who allow this, who cause this to happen. They are despicable and evil and surely will someday be asked to pay for their actions. I’m just sorry that so many precious animals have to die because of them.

    1. AFAIK any of the dogs that the Friends post on their pages that aren’t adopted disappear never to be seen again. Friends should be required to keep those dogs they pull listed on the PH adoptable list and also keep an album of photos of dogs adopted out and a RIP album for those who are killed. It would make them more accountable to the people. The way things stand they have no accountability.

      1. I agree with Arlene. The Urgent Part 2 FB page out of NYC keeps albums of Safe, GBNF, and TBD dogs from New York Animal Care & Control. This practice allows people to find out what happened to dogs they tried to help.

        Pets on Death Row FB does the same for the cats of NYACC.

        The difference is that these pages are run by people who are openly on the side of the NYACC pets. They don’t have laptops given to them by the shelter administration, as FOMAS does. They are not beholden in any way . . . in fact, they defy NYACC and routinely make public demands of the shelter director. They are a godsend to the pets there. Because so many people follow these pages, the shelter director now cannot shut them down — in fact, because of their longstanding, aggressive partisanship on behalf of the shelter’s animals, NYACC was forced into making the kill lists (at least the portions that are non-rescue-only) available to the public. This shows what being on the side of the animals really means.

        Would that FOMAS would do the same, but they never will. They are friends not of the pets, but of the shelter. Thank you, Shirley, for challenging their practices.

  5. So basically Wharton put ANOTHER puppet in place as “director” – painted the broad brush strokes of how things are changing and getting better, but in reality it’s onto business as usual. Granted I have noted that the kill rate has gone down SOME…but we still have a wide base of cruelty/abuse and “friends” continue to do the same old-same old crap of acting like they give a shit. Then turn around and delete the evidence of their “caring”…..

    It’s past time to get some fresh blood in there and shake MAS to it’s core. Seriously – how much pull does Wharton have within MAS? If someone came along and told him “Look I can take this shelter over AND get the ‘irresponsible’ public off your back (while saving more than 90% of the animals lives) IF you just let me at it and give me free range.” What would he do? Would he give the person a chance, or would he expect the new director to just polish the turd that is MAS, while limiting the directors ability to turn things around? And would the “friends” try to fight a director that steps up to actually run the shelter as it was intended, or would they jump ship amid the wild ride and run to hide?

    I just have such a hard time (still after years of this) of understanding the mind-set of the “friends” & various directors at MAS. Seems to me that Wharton would WANT someone to take over that would get everyone off his back. But instead I feel like he continues to just gives us the middle finger by acting like he gives a shit, when in all reality he’s playing a game. Is his seat up for election this November? If it is then I think it’s time for the citizens of Memphis to step up and let him know that his way isn’t working and it’s time to find someone who CAN fix things!

  6. This is so sad.

    And by mislabeling pretty much every dog a ‘pitbull mix’, that just gives them the excuse to kill (because of BSL or whatever) and not just because they are idiots now, right?

  7. Don’t forget the adorable beagle-mix brothers, Huey and Louie, that were cuddled up together in their pic on the FMAS Facebook page. Someone wanted to foster them and got the run-around by the shelter. Turns out MAS suspects they had distemper (do they test them? monitor their symptoms? what do you think?) so, bye bye Huey and Louie! And farewell to your Facebook post, too. Just like that, they’re killed, dumped, and totally forgotten, the only trace of their existence is wiped off the face of the earth. There was a foster waiting for these boys, and the shelter turned her down. I won’t forget you, Huey and Louie.

  8. Shirley I think your points make sense and the main point is being missed .The friends page is set up by volunteers who can do nothing but discreetly disagree with what’s going on at M.A.S. They could not Have enough political clout to change things be transparent about it and keep their position in those walls. I know that volunteers are working very hard to do what they can to save who they can. I follow your post and theirs, I can say that after one detailed and researched post your job is done for the day they do not share that same privilege. 1000 animals are brought in to that building a month, what’s an appropriate number for one person to pull off? I am under the impression that one person works on that page exclusively
    Background check yard check, you have my vote M.A.S Irresponsible people are the reason that dungeon is open! I would think that cruelty charges could only be obtained during a background check. Aren’t all wood fences 6ft + Also if they don’t have a tall enough fence I’m sure they can do something to get the dog especially when you know that if you don’t get the dog it will die!
    Euthanasia rates can’t be down .Shirley is that true? I read where it was like 2000 killed in two months and pet harbor pets disappear all the time which I think is a automatic response to an update in the system files (volunteers do not have access to this) unless M.A.S is different than everywhere else
    Anybody know why the mayor didn’t just hire someone with shelter background? And is it true that the new guy and the mayor are buddies?
    Keep up the good work Shirley, Justice for Nola !!!

    1. “I can say that after one detailed and researched post your job is done for the day they do not share that same privilege.”

      This entire comment gave me passive-aggressive whiplash but I had to pull out that one sentence and respond. If you think I just do a bit of light typing in the a.m. and then kick back with a tropical drink for the rest of the day, you are mistaken. If you don’t actually think that but just wanted to make martyrs out of the “Friends”, you are cruel. I’m not big on self-promotion but there are many days when I work on blog related issues – including trying to save pets from the MAS kill room – until my eyes can literally no longer see the words on the monitor. So please don’t come on here – anonymously no less – and tell me about what I do.

      In any case, suffice to say that “discreet disagreement” on the part of the “Friends” seems to be resulting in mountains of dead pets at MAS. It’s not a reasonable action plan and needs to be abandoned immediately in order to pursue meaningful reform.

  9. I don’t know the details of exactly how the ‘friends” of Memphis aid and abet. I can tell you that volunteers in kill shelters are always between a rock and a hard place. In every instance I know of – which is quite a few – every time the volunteer did something verboten by the shelter they got banned. This has included but is not limited to taking their own photos, creating a memorial album of the dead pets, telling the truth about the shelter to others and/or on their own Facebook pages, supporting no kill initiatives. I’m not saying they should stop trying. In fact I applaud the brave ones that do. Sometimes when they get banned – it gets into the press or goes virile and may bring positive change. I am saying those are the consequences that not all volunteers are willing to take. It is not on the volunteer level that we can look for meaningful reform to impact the shelter. They are the lowest people on the totem pole and most shelters see them as adversaries/annoying from the git regardless. They usually have to walk on eggshells to be allowed to remain. Just yesterday a friend of mine and a long time volunteer that is definitely an animal and no kill advocate and I were discussing some strategies to improve adoptions. She is clearly knows how to get things done but she has to dance an intricate subtle exasperating dance to accomplish anything meaningful. She after many many years was trusted enough to create a “friends” page for them and she works about 16 hours a day keeping that updating, and vying for their lives. She is not allowed to keep a memorial album. This friends page has resulted in untold numbers of adoptions and rescues and without it many more would be in the dumpster. Interestingly this same shelter tried to fire one of it’s own paid employees because she had the nerve to try to find rescue for death row pets on her own time. She had been written up several times for doing (this) shelter work on her time off. There was legal action as a result by her and she was not fired. I can speak from personal experience. I got the permission to start a Petfinders account and both myself and another volunteer diligently placed in all the animals. Doing this accurately takes many many hours. Once again doing the shelters work for them at no pay. When they saw that we had the nerve to give them names, and also place in the comments that they were extremely urgent or on death row – they deleted the account. Then they blamed the fact that they had no Petfinders on the incompetent volunteers (us) that couldn’t keep it “updated”. This is what a kill shelter does. The changes have to be made at the authority level and be done via political modes. P.S. It is theoretically illegal for the shelters to ban or “fire” volunteers for retribution under aFed Law Section 1983. (I say theoretically because filing this type of lawsuit takes a lot of time and money and lots of proof – and most are not willing to or prohibited financially from attempting it. Rescuers/ volunteers would just rather usually move on and keep saving pets somewhere else or in another way)

    1. Indeed it is on the volunteer level that we should look for reform, as many volunteers have shown us, including a dedicated group in Austin, TX. It’s not the ONLY level we should expect action from but it is a legitimate avenue to change.

    2. Wow.. thanks for sharing that story about your friend and that shelter. I myself feel like I could have written that about what my shelter did to me when I volunteered to advocate for the animals in need..

      Just this past Monday I had a friend take a “Found” flier of a dog to post on the shelter wall… somehow they found out it was me that had the dog and took it off the wall. An hour later the owner of the dog went there looking for their dog.. the shelter kept their mouths shut. Did not share the found flier. Luckily.. someone happen to see my post on FB and the dog is now home.

      Retaliation… is so wrong.. why is it they think they can get away with this behavior? Just because I disagree with their killing of adoptable pets is no reason to harm a “FOUND” dog. If this dog had ended up at the shelter on Saturday it would have been dead Tuesday morning at 11:00 am… Tuesday afternoon 6:00 pm this dog was home with his owner! :)

      1. The shelter pets are their hostages and because they don’t give a crap about their lives use them as things. They are also not very nice people for the most part. That is in part what CAPA laws attempt to redress. It is shelter reform that even in it’s basic mode would not allow pets to be used as pawns and prohibit the shelters from killing pets that have rescue. It would mandate that that shelter must release pets to rescues and inform rescues with adequate notice of pets on deathrow. In Austin the volunteers acted politically and that is how they became a No Kill community. One of those volunteers was Ryan Clinton an attorney that spearheaded this effort ( and it took some time). It was accomplished through political means with efforts including supporting candidates on No Kill platforms to finally having a mandate passed by the city council to abolish the kill shelter and create a No Kill community instead.

  10. Shirley I assure you that the comment was not meant to take away all that you do .So I apologize if it seemed that way. I firmly believe that their where some misconceptions during this string and figured that all detail should be given to draw a fair and accurate conclusion of what’s going on there, also I just thought that I’d mention that the overall question that I asked was not answered which was, what’s an appropriate number of pictures for one person to pull off? The question is a general one and was not directed towards anyone .This is a question I asked because I wanted to know what everyone or anyone thought.

    1. Your question was not answered because it is based upon a false premise – that there is only one person able/willing to photograph animals at MAS. If MAS would start accepting help from vols, including photographers, instead of turning them away, the photos would not be an issue.

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