Memphis ACO Leaves Starving Dogs to Suffer

ABC 24 in Memphis reports that a cruelty complaint prompted ACO David Johnson to visit a home last week where he found starving dogs, including a mama with pups.  The dogs were reportedly chained without food or water and were clearly emaciated.  ACO Johnson had the authority to seize the dogs and get them the food, water and care they needed at the pound.  Instead, he left a notice to comply on the owner’s door and drove away.  Three days later, the starving mama dog ate one of her pups.

There is no mention in the piece regarding the current whereabouts of the dogs.  If anyone knows, please share.

As I’ve said numerous times, there is a culture of neglect at the Memphis pound.  The staff allows pets to suffer and the volunteers keep quiet.  Is everyone there so immersed in this culture of apathy that they truly can’t recognize animal cruelty when they see it?  Or is it just laziness that keeps them from doing their jobs?  Instead of addressing the real problems, the city chooses to provide compassion fatigue counseling for employees due to the astonishing number of pets they kill at work.

Fire.  Them.  All.

42 thoughts on “Memphis ACO Leaves Starving Dogs to Suffer

  1. Just when you think they have hit rock bottom, they keep getting worse and worse. Are they idiots or just uncaring, unfeeling, unconscionable, soulless drones that lack the capacity to feel for any other living being? When is Memphis going to get a clue and stand up against these people? Is EVERYBODY in the city filled with apathy? Why is there not an uprising?

    1. Debbie — I agree with you. I ask myself every single day – “Where are the dog lovers in Memphis? Why aren’t they doing something to STOP the monsters who are running MAS?”
      I just don’t understand it…..

  2. There is no end to the suffering in Memphis is there? I was just on facebook and am friends with Tia Torres who runs Villalobos Rescue center (the rescue featured on Pitbulls & Parolees tv show on animal planet). I volunteered with them every Saturday in California before they moved to New Orleans on 12/31/11. I also adopted my dog Panda from them. Anyhow she just posted that she was on her way today–driving from Nola to MAS to rescue a dog tomorrow. I sincerely hope this rescue does not portray MAS in a good light on the TV show. She like alot of rescuers is, although a great person she champions shelter employees for doing the tough work and completely believes the BS of pet overpopulation and it being the irresponsible public’s fault. Crossing fingers….

  3. I don’t even see how Rogers can sit there with a straight face claiming his employees are properly trained…

    1. I was shocked at his comment myself. To say that in the beginning they lacked training and that they are all trained now….well, that just means that if they are all trained and THAT is how they respond in a situation like this then I do hope their “investigation” results in Sir Cuss-A-Lot’s termination papers being handed to him. Anything less, at this point, would make Roger’s look like a fool.

  4. I would be even more impressed with Tia Torres if she would take ALL of the pit bulls away from the danger that is MAS. I know she does good work and cares about the dogs she has. I hope that she can extend that caring to the death row dogs that are numerous.

    There really is no excuse for the things that go on in Memphis. I have to ask……WHERE ARE THE CARING PEOPLE? STEP UP NOW.

  5. It is a culture that is Memphis – and also Tennessee. Emmaciated or sick animals should be seized. The owners should be cited. However – in many many counties in Tennessee the ADAs will not allow for seizure of these animals unless you post 3 consecutive days – a warning to comply with Food, Water, Shelter. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told point blank by the ADAs “It’s just too hard to prove cruelty.” REALLY??? The animals have no food an water and are emmaciated. Done deal. But the DAs office HAS to take the ACOs cases . And in most cases they do not want to. This then falls on the Director’s shoulders to build a bridge or stand alone on pursuing this. I did – and most times it was NOT favorable. I have several years of cases that were thrown out when the judge asked “Do the dogs have food now?” “Yes your honor.” “Dismissed.” NEVER even asking to see the photos. ALSO – my ACOs took pictures at every call. I looked at the photos and made the determination with them. It IS a sick culture here in Tennessee…and it’s pervasive throughtout the state. And let us not forget that Law Enforcement does not want to ever address animal calls. They are beneath them – and only tie them up in court AND bring down their call result averages.

    1. As a resident of TN, I would agree with your assessment. There was a recent case in my area of a dog on death’s doorstep. It was a local SPCA that responded to call of a neglected german shepard. Upon arrival, it was determined that with out immediate intervention, this animal would die. Long story short, a case was made and punishment dealt, but not severe enough in my opinion.
      It is my understanding that the policy of this local volunteer SPCA is to respond to these type calls and at the very least provide food and water to the neglected animal along with compliance notices. If after 5 days, the animal is still in distress, the animal is seized.
      I believe they do it this way to show proof that they have provided care for the animals and have legal ground to claim possession.
      But having said that, I believe the investigating entity has to be sure of neglect. They must have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. An abuser will simply claim the dog was ill and was going to get the animal vet care when all this intervention took place. And the courts will buy it.

      1. There are times when animals need to just come up missing in the night. I’m surprising myself by having that come out of my mouth…or fingers, as the case may be. But our laws fail animals miserably. Giving people a warning to comply is useless, in my opinion. It will buy the animal time, at best. But once the attention is off of them, they’ll go right back to the way it was. As a life-long resident of Tennessee, I’m ashamed of how animals are treated in our state. I’m ashamed that the people of these Tennessee counties don’t care enough to step up and do something. And I’m ashamed that our judicial system doesn’t see a need to protect those who cannot protect themselves. But our laws lack in many areas. The good ole’ boy mentality is alive and well, unfortunately. And that needs to change.

  6. There are studies showing that the level of violence/violent crime increases in individuals that work in a slaughterhouse as well as the surrounding community where one exists. The silly “compassion” fatigue training can’t ameliorate the effects of this horribly twisted unhealthy environment. If we check into the employees back grounds I feel certain we will find their behavior will substantiate this. I also fear for these individual’s children and their own pets.At a minimum as with the ACO in the story above they become too numb to be effective even if they aren’t actually sadistic psychopaths. In addition, the IQ of those that can work steadily in such an environment is not very high. All of this not only bodes unwell for the pets but the society at large. No Kill communities are not only better for the pets obviously, but also psychologically far more sound for their community.

  7. David Johnson could have helped those dogs by asking the Friends of MAS to donate food to this family through their Pet Retention Program:
    >>Pets provide comfort during tough times, so it is important now more than ever to help people keep their pets so they don’t have to storm the tragedy of losing their home and/or job alone. Friends of the Memphis Animal Shelter has established a Pet Retention Program.

    The Pet Retention Program enables families to keep their pets while spending their limited resources on living expenses for themselves. By offering assistance (pet food, dog houses, etc.), we hope people will rest assured that it will be easier to keep their beloved pet during their hardship and stay together as a family. We also hope to lessen the burden of homeless pets on local animal shelters and rescue groups.<<

    1. It’s great to hear that ‘friends’ have started a pet retention program – but a lot of good it does that no one knows about it! AND if ACO’s aren’t putting the word out…then I am inclined to agree with those that feel Sir Cuss-A-Lot needs to get hammered with some charges himself! Honestly, those who ares struggling to make ends meet many times don’t follow the news…don’t know about programs that can HELP them.

      Just went through that myself with a lady who had taken in multiple dogs over the years (all pit types) because she didn’t want them to end up at our county shelter, which would ultimately kill them due to the dang BSL crap we’re still dealing with in Ohio (state may have overturned it, but still allows municipalities to make their own laws regarding BSL, so it didn’t help much!)…anyways this lady lost her job and couldn’t find another one – unemployment comp. ran out and she took to sell everything she owned to pay bills and feed herself & those dogs. I read a posting on Craigslist where she was begging for food, had her neighbors call ACC on her because the dogs were starting to get thin and you could tell they weren’t being fed enough….ACO’s gave her a warning and told her they’d be back to recheck within a week to see if she complied with their orders….but they did NOTHING to help her find help.

      She was begging for people to come take the dogs because she figured anything would be better than those ACO’s getting their hands on the dogs – which would ultimately mean death for them anyways. I had to email her and walk her through the process of locating pet pantries that she could use to get help. I grabbed some bags of homemade dog food I had in the freezer, stopped at the store and got a couple cheap bags of kibble and took her the list of pet pantries that she could use.

      Luckily when I got there it was immediately before the ACO showed up for his recheck. He tried to take the dogs and I got in his face & told him that he failed her and those dogs from day one by not informing her of her options beyond – feed them OR turn them over to him. I showed him the food, gave him a copy of the pet pantries (and told him to make copies to distribute to other ACO’s to keep with them when they do these types of visits), politely explained that their goal should being keeping pets in homes and in order to do that the ACO’s need to EDUCATE pet owners about ALL OPTIONS available to them and then shut her door in his face. He was too shocked to do anything else but walk away!

      I then used my cell phone to call the shelter and talk to the director…I explained the situation and was not to nice to him about telling him that HIS ACO’s need to educate pet owners otherwise he was going to continue the vicious cycle…I also told him about the copy of the pet pantries I gave the ACO and that he needed to have each of his ACO’s carry copies to distribute….I was ready for a fight. Instead he THANKED ME! He said that he had NEVER thought to do something like that.

      “Friends” needs to get the word out about the pet retention program – and any other programs they have begun that CAN help keep those pets out of MAS…..the more they keep out the less they kill!

      1. Friends was supposed to have food on every truck so that when an ACO in the field found someone in need, they could be proactive and hand out the food. At the very least David Johnson should have told someone these people needed help. David Johnson should be charged with animal cruelty.

      2. Agreed, Ona! Why the hell could he not even give the dogs water? To walk away and do nothing is criminal.

      3. Good for you, Erica. Bless you for the help to the good lady with the pitties and future folks with potential threats of having their dogs impounded. You have helped more down the road than you realize. Great job, Erica!

  8. No surprise. That happens here, too. I considered being a volunteer at our “shelter”, but I got the distinct feeling of anger from the staff, and unusual quietness from the volunteers. I figured that the volunteers are threatened with secrecy, or they would be “fired”. I have made several visits to out “shelter”, and adopted one hound. I have also voiced my feelings on their Facebook page. I actually got “unfriended”, then complained even more, finally being “refriended” as it “must have been a mistake”.

  9. Does anyone know how to contact Tia Torres and beg her not to do the TV piece at MAS tomorrow? We are in the midst of a horrible scandal. The City and MAS will use her, Animal Planet and people’s love of basketball to further spin the inaccurate PR about MAS. The City is going to use her. Can’t she just get the dog and tank the film shoot as far as any PR is concerned? Perhaps should could ask Rogers why the ACO left a clearly starving dog with a new litter to eat one of her puppies. Ten to one the dogs were pitbulls. Please help. I live in Memphis. Believe me we are trying to change things. We are working our tails off, but the Mayor and City manage to “spin” things every time. Please do not let them spin this one. Believe me, Rogers is beside himself with excitement about the shoot tomorrow, but he couldn’t care less about the dogs.

    I cannot give my name because I am working for change.

    1. Memphis resident above – can you contact the news reporter Jeni who did the story about the ACO leaving the starving dogs at that home? She seemed to be a dog lover and did a good job of getting the word out about that incident. I tried to email her with my thanks, but the email came back because her email box was too full. I live in FL, or I would offer to help you. I agree that MAS will try to use this as a good PR piece. I hope they are not able to accomplish that. Maybe if the news reporter does a piece on this, it will help get the real truth out there again. Good luck…..

  10. Update to the comment I posted earlier. I guess Tia Torres will be there at the request of the Memphis Grizzlies player Zach Randolph who helped out with the pitbull found stuck in a drainage pipe there. It’s a big story so I hope they gloss over the MAS part and none of that is shown on the P & P TV show. Here’s the story:

      1. I want to add that if it were not for Mario Chiozza, the dog from the drainage pipe now known as “Greenline”, would not be alive today. Mario answered the call for help and was in the trenches digging for hours to save Greenline. He is the one that was there from start to finish. He never gave up.

      2. Mario is a good man with a good heart – his actions prove it. This ACO’s actions prove something quite different, though…

    1. Now if I lived in Memphis, I would take advantage of that TV crew being there and GET EVERYONE I KNOW TO PROTEST in front of MAS with HUGE SIGNS, and to stick to them like glue anytime they came anywhere near MAS! Either they would have to deal with the protesters (let’s see if Animal Planet can put it’s programming where it’s mouth is) or tank any part of the show that deals with MAS.

      That’s what I would do…just sayin’…..

      1. Y’know, if this opportunity could be used to get AP’s attention to what’s going on at MAS, maybe they would be willing to do a piece on MAS and/or “shelters” in TN, or in general–at least they might bring some of this out into the open, instead of allowing MAS and that asshat duo, Rogers and Wharton, to garner as much publicity as they can for MAS and against the “irresponsible public”.

        C’mon folks! This is the first I’ve heard of this TV thing, so not much time to get people from out of town, but there have to be SOME people in Memphis who are willing to OCCUPY ANIMAL PLANET and MAS!!!

      2. I have finally found someone that used to volunteer at MAS.. she has been telling me some stories about what happens to anyone who tries to go up against the shelter.. she is terrified because of what they have done to other that rocked the boat.. She’s afraid to even come on here even using another name.. she says that what ever she says.. the spies here would be able to figure out who she is.. I can’t share a time frame .. but there is a person that had to move out of the State to protect them self and family.. She claims this is very real.. she warned me just how dangerous the mayor is.

      3. @Ona…..I so agree. The real hero in this story is Mario. There would have been no Greenline dog rescue without his working hours to free that little dog. Someone there should make sure that Animal Planet knows the truth. Nothing is worse than letting disappointing people take credit for the work of others.

        I also agree with Lorraine Martinez….people who care should make themselves known and protest in front of MAS. That is no glory hole….it is a hell hole and everyone should know it.

  11. The two starving dogs went to MAS and the owner has been arrested for animal cruelty. Now they need to arrest David Johnson.

      1. I hope volunteers can watch out for those 2 dogs because MAS has a history of letting cruelty case dogs die in their “care” and any dog who’s already starving is really at risk there. They probably won’t be put down right away because they’re evidence in a cruelty case, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in real danger of dying of starvation and neglect.
        This is the ongoing legacy of Wharton and his cronies who replaced Herenton and his cronies–same old same old.

  12. David Johnson needs his head examined. And defenantly needs more training, if it would do any good. It’s people like him who give MAS a bad name.

    Why are these kind of “people” working at MAS? Why did it take 3 days to return? Why didn’t Mr Johnson leave food & water?

    Several years ago, I called MAS, and Memphis Humane Society, reporting my next door neighbor that wouldn’t feed their puppy, even after I gave them bags of premium puppy food. They wouldn’t supply water or a dog house.

    Only MAS came out but MAS said there was no problem. They refused to see there was no food, no water & no dog house because of racial descrepancies. MAS again failed the citizens of Memphis & that puppy.

    I already had enough dogs but ended up buying the dog from them as the only alternative to stop the neglect & abuse.

  13. Ate one of her pups?! Oh good Lord!!

    As for the authority, you’re right, if he had it, he should’ve taken them in. At the VERY least, he could’ve kept them in the house with some food and water until he had the legal authority to do so. When I used to watch ‘Animal Cops’, that’s how it went. If they came across a situation like this, then they would usually have to keep the animals there for a few days until the ‘owners complied’ and then if they didn’t after a few days, then they’d have the legal authority to take them. But in the meantime, they’d usually spill some food out into the backyard or house or whatever and a little bowl of water. But if this guy couldn’t even do that AND had the legal authority to take the dogs, then shame on him!!!

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