Dog Suffers for 4 Days at Memphis Pound

Dog #243148 was impounded by a Memphis ACO as a stray on the morning of June 30, 2012.  She was listed as a 2 year old female Pitbull wearing a choke chain.  At the time of impound, she weighed 96.3 pounds which is at least twice the weight of a typical female Pitbull.  The reason she was so heavy was that her belly was full of fluid due to end stage heart failure.  Visitors who saw her at the pound that day described her as looking like a beached whale with half of her total body weight appearing to be in her belly, unable to get up, even when treats were tossed through the cage bars to her.

The impounding ACO recognized that something was wrong and put in a request for the vet to examine the dog on June 30.  That didn’t happen.  The dog sat without treatment all day and all night.  The following day, the records indicate the vet “examined” the dog long enough to note only that she had a “very enlarged abdomen”.  No treatment.  The day after that, July 2, the dog received what appears to be a real exam and the notes include “severe ascites, belly tap positive”.  The vet recommended euthanasia due to “severe cardiac failure”.  That didn’t happen.  The dog received no treatment and was left to sit for another day and night.  She was finally euthanized on July 3.

It’s heart wrenching to think of any dog suffering needlessly like this but it’s even worse when it happens to a dog that made it to a shelter.  Being taken in by the municipal facility taxpayers rely upon to protect pets from harm should mean an immediate end to suffering for any animal – either by way of treatment or, if medically hopeless, euthanasia.  It is unacceptable to allow shelter pets to suffer in a cage for days.

How many more, Memphis?


32 thoughts on “Dog Suffers for 4 Days at Memphis Pound

  1. Wouldn’t this be considered animal cruelty? This poor dog was suffering, the vet recommended euthanasia ,but does nothing for another 2 days . This is incredibly sad!

    1. Presumably if a regular citizen was found to have a dog in this condition, the ACO would issue a citation and either seize the dog or require immediate vet care.

      1. Yes, and then in Memphis the regular citizen would get slapped with fines, fees, etc and possibly banned from owning another pet…all while the same animal is chokepole drug into MAS to continue the suffering that began at its home!

  2. And to note – the ACO noted that the dog needed to see the vet! Someone noticed a problem. This sounds like the recent story about the cat who was degloved…sickening.

  3. Damn them all. George Brown – another MAS story for you? How many animals have to suffer and die before this torture and abuse can be stopped?

    1. I just contacted Mayor Wharton’s office. I will tell you they have NOT been cooperative about releasing information.

      1. But gosh, that’s against the TN Open Records Law, which I know the city upholds rigorously – oh wait, I was having one of those delusions again, wasn’t I?

      2. Thank you for making that contact. This is what many of us who have been advocating for change FOR the animals have run into time and time again. They are not at all interested in changing what’s happening at the facility – and thumb their noses at our attempts to hold them accountable. What do you think the citizens of Memphis would think if they knew this? Or do they know this and not care?

      3. Thank you for sticking with it, George. If you can please ask them – when the shelter vet “recommends” euthanasia, to whom is she recommending it? Why does she not euthanize immediately to end an animal’s suffering?

        Who is deciding how long animals will suffer at MAS?

  4. Bumping up a comment and link from May, 2011. Seems to be applicable here . . . anyone in Memphis willing to make this contact?

    Arlene Says:

    May 3, 2011 at 9:24 am

    This has got to stop. I thought of Animal Legal Defense this morning and looked up their website. There is a section on animal shelters and what to do if inhumane treatment is used on the animals and talking with shelter staff, city government officials, and the mayor does not produce desired results.

    It is a lot of information on one page. It talks about documenting with photos (thanks YesBiscuit) and contact information. Please go to this site and be informed. Then Memphis, do something!

  5. So they can impound otherwise healthy dogs and cats and take them straight to the kill room but an obviously sick and suffering animal is left to languish in pain for days. What are they not seeing in all this? It boggles the mind.

    1. It makes no sense to me, either. And why would coleman (small case intended) not euthanize? She’s a vet, for heaven’s sake.

      1. As is the case with ACO’s, not all Vets love animals. Some of them have a sick disease which requires them to hold what they perceive to be REAL POWER over the powerless. coleman may or may not fall under that category, can’t say since I do not know her. But if these are the kinds of things that consistently happen, either she does belong in that category, she’s grossly overworked and underpaid, or she’s a lousy vet who only does the things that reach her paycheck. And let’s not get into “compassion”, because that’s a wild card at MAS.

  6. What I don’t understand is when Dr. Coleman sees an animal that an animal is suffering and should be euthanised, why can’t she do it immediately? Why does she have to “recommend” it? To whom is she recommending it and why do they take so long to approve (or not) the recommendations?

    1. It’s like the pets there are widgets.

      Widget needs an exam but the vet didn’t get to that widget today.

      Widget is suffering so we’ll add this widget to the kill queue for whenever she makes it down the assembly line.

      1. I can understand refusing to kill. I cannot understand refusing to euthanize.

    2. In a well-run shelter, the decision to euthanize would not be just one person’s with no review. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen evidence of Memphis having rules that would be good, if applied by people who cared.

  7. this shelter needs to get their shit together and the vet needs to do the job that tax payers are paying for.. this is shameful.. AGAIN! and it needs to stop.

  8. Dr. Coleman NEEDS to and HAS to be reported to the Department of Health of Tennessee, the Board of Veterinary Examiners. She is not abiding by the laws of her own oath.

    When she should be taking care of an animal in distress she lets that animal sit there for days to suffer and die a slow and painful death. She’s perfectly willing to kill healthy animals daily by delegating the killing to others on staff.

    Wake up Memphis! What if it were your own pet she’s “not” taking care of. How would you feel then? The fact that she doesn’t examine or oversee exams at intake, that she allows animals to suffer even when she sees with her own eyes and looks the other way rather than end the suffering herself and instead waits to have someone else take care of them…….it speaks volumes. GET. RID. OF. COLEMAN.

  9. I see this dog’s situation a little differently. The MAS vet did an exam, but a real vet would have made an actual diagnosis (probably after making the dog comfortable by draining the fluid from her abdomen and then running some tests) followed by treatment or euthanasia if she had no hope of recovery. What if all that fluid was due to late-stage (but not end-stage) heartworm disease? That can be treated. It’s risky but doesn’t always mean a death sentence for the dog. So where’s the list of rescues that MAS contacts when they have a dog with a serious medical condition like this? Where’s the emergency vetting fund maintained by volunteers? Where’s the referral to a REAL VET? I get email pleas from other kill shelters saying they have a dog with some horrible condition that needs to get out and get vet care immediately and would someone please do that. MAS doesn’t even try. I don’t know Coleman and don’t want to criticize her personally but have seen similar “vets” at work in other kill shelters and they’re just doing the bare minimum to fulfill a contractual obligation (collect a paycheck). I wouldn’t call it real vetting or even real shelter medicine.

  10. I received an e-mail earlier today that was forwarded and was from the MAS asking help for an 8 year old elderly black male lab who was dumped by his owner. The e-mail did not have his number on it which I thought was odd.

    Here is his info: Samuel, 8 yr. old black male lab. Owner surrender on 7/13/12. Does not like kennels but is wonderful outside the kennel. Heartworm negative.

    Please contact Tracy Dunlap at or call 901-636-1448 if you are able to help!

    1. He is URGENT as I forgot to post this: IF you can please let me know if you can help Samuel by end of business on Friday, July 27, I would really appreciate your responses.

      1. Always panic time! He was surrendered on the 13th and only earlier today you received a plea from Dunlap to help? Just how long did he want to wait? Or was it untill the last minute and then he could say no one responded and the deadline is the 27th; tomorrow?

        If Dunlap were really interested in finding a place for that poor old dog he would have started looking on the 13th and made sure he included his id number. He would not have waited until the day before he would be killed.

      2. I was shocked that the e-mail was written by someone at MAS as this is the first one I have ever received.

      3. Poor old guy – has anyone come forward to take him? He deserves more in his golden years than his POS owner who dumped him there.

  11. They kill perfectly healthy, adoptable animals…even puppies…or handle them in such a way that they die. Then when an animal is in organ failure, they won’t humanely euthanize, but will let it suffer. That says a lot about MAS. It’s torture chamber for animals, that has no regard whatsoever for life. There’s not much other conclusion that can be drawn.

  12. I have a dog who has ascites due to end stage heart failure. He is my hospice dog, and has fluid removed every 2 weeks from his abdomen. In fact he is having a tap as I write this. But the light is still in his eyes and his spirit is strong and we will take every step on the journey with him and keep him comfortable until we sense that the light is dimming. We are blessed to have the financial resources to offer the paliative care and give him more days of splashing in his pool, playing gently, and bossing around our young lab.

    I cannot imagine how this poor animal at MAS suffered without diuretics or removal of the fluid in the abdomen. When the fluid builds up to that extreme, it is a slow process of suffocation as the fluid compresses the lungs and heart. If MAS chose not to remove the fluid and give the dog any relief, then why in the world didn’t they just euthanize the dog immediately?

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