Memphis Pound in Violation of Everything

The MAS Policies and Procedures manual provided by the city of Memphis via FOIA request this month is expired.  But it is apparently still in use.  It contains details of exceptions to the legally mandated stray holding period for animals who are suffering:

On September 5, 2012, a 2 year old female Pitbull (ID #245865) was impounded as a stray by an ACO.  That same day, a notation was made in the dog’s record that she needed treatment for a skin condition.  On September 6, the MAS veterinarian made a differential diagnosis of “mange” (type not specified) and noted a treatment plan consisting of antibiotics and medicated baths.

There appears to be an error somewhere in the dates of this dog’s records because on September 5 – the date of impound and the day prior to the exam – she was killed.  The MAS vet signed her kill record indicating “generalized pyoderma”.  I can’t say which date is incorrect but clearly the dog could not have been killed on September 5 and examined on September 6.  (Right?)

Regardless of whether the killing took place on the 5th, as indicated in the records, or possibly the 6th, it does not comply with local and state laws regarding the mandatory holding period for stray pets.  Further, it appears to be a violation of MAS policy as suspected mange is not one of the killing exceptions outlined in the manual regarding strays, particularly given that there were plenty of empty cages to house the dog alone, as required.

This young dog with a treatable skin condition had a right to live.  She also had the right to be held for the legally required period so that her owner, if she had one, could find her.  But she had no “Friends” advocating for her.  The MAS vet was apparently not advocating for her and neither was anyone else at the pound.

At MAS, they kill pets while disregarding local and state laws.  They even defy their own internal policies and procedures.  They kill indiscriminately because they can.  How many more, Memphis?

26 thoughts on “Memphis Pound in Violation of Everything

  1. This was in our Commical Appeal (Commercial Appeal) today. According to this writer our Pound has NEVER used sedatives when euthanizing.
    As the Community Action for Animals Court Watch, Jackie Johns and I attended the Sept. 5 hearing for the three former employees of the Memphis Animal Shelter most recently charged with aggravated cruelty to animals. The prosecutor read in detail the charges and dates associated with each count of cruelty. It was horrendous listening to the sadistic methods of killing Archie Elliott III and Frank Lightfoot Jr. inflicted on the animals placed in their care. Even more disturbing was that the prosecutor’s statement indicated the defendants derived pleasure in their methods.

    The prosecutor also stated that on two different dates this sadistic abuse was witnessed by two workers who are still employed at the shelter.

    This newspaper reported that sedation drugs are available and are used at the shelter. This is incorrect. The shelter does not and has never used sedation drugs prior to euthanasia except in extreme cases of animal agitation. We are both former MAS Advisory Board members. During our tenure, the members of the advisory board discussed with and requested of the city division directors the institution of pre-sedation. The board was told that cost was the issue, so we offered to pay for the simple and inexpensive shot of Valium, including the syringe and needles. We were turned down.

    Two of the three indicted former employees admitted to choking and hanging dogs before injecting the fatal drug into their hearts while the dogs were conscious. Heart-sticking is an extremely painful way to die and has been illegal in Tennessee since 1980.

    A solution to end this cruelty is to place cameras and a full-time staff veterinarian in the euthanasia room at all times while in use.

    We trust the court will not grant diversion in the Elliott and Lightfoot cases. By doing so, this case will send a clear message that our justice system will not tolerate such abhorrent behavior and will use its power to protect the animals and citizens of this community.

    Cindy Sanders


    1. Cindy, I know they did a demo euth for Mr. Rogers – how much do you want to bet that what he got to see involved sedatives? I wonder if he even realizes that he’s been given a little “show” for his benefit and it’s not really like that on “regular” days?

      If I were Mr Rogers, I’d stand in the kill room and just watch people now and then. Does being observed make them start searching around for where the sedatives are? Does it make them have to take time to wonder about dosages of sedatives because they don’t use them regularly? Does it make them do one animal at a time, rather than having multiple pets in there watching each other die?

      And if so, why does being observed change how things are done? Because they’re doing it wrong and they know it?

      I’d love to hear that Rogers has developed a habit of walking into the kill room unannounced…and that he’s put a camera in there, finally.

    2. I hope that the judge formally prosecutes those scumbags to the fullest extent of the law but I doubt that will happen due to the pernicious nature of the corruption of Memphis city government as a whole.

      Just today I read that one of the personal drivers for the superintendent of Memphis City Schools engaged in improper conduct toward a minor. There was no formally follow through on what the gentleman did until one full year later and that was only because the mother of the minor child and the Commercial Appeal demanded it almost to the point of no return.

      Therefore, there is something similar to a cancer within Memphis. It seems to me that if almost anything is affiliated with the city of Memphis in terms of most anything city run, city funded, or partially city funded (like the public school system), then no one cares.

      The sheriff’s raid for the MAS was back in 2009, right? All Ac Wharton did was offer up a panacea there for a bit, change location, and then basically put the place on lock-down from the public. I have written as well as formally conversed with some of the ladies and gentlemen of Memphis city government for quite a while and am always given the run around or the brush off.

      I even asked Mathew Pepper (former MAS head) personally if he filed a police report back when he claimed that he and his family were receiving abusive phone calls from supposed animal activists. He told me that the situation was under control but then he wound up moving in order to accept a job offer out of state a short while after all the same. I doubt he and his family were harassed period. But his “perception versus reality” routine coupled with the fact that one of the spins for the MAS is that anyone who cares for the animals arbitrarily put to death there are “whack job animal activists” is what passes for p.r. for the MAS. It is like the “if you don’t like it, leave” bit the former Mayor of Memphis did.

      Basically all of this with the MAS has to go National. No one here (in Memphis) can crack the code in order for there to be more humane practices at that place at all. No one can do it, but contrary to what some (not all, of course) people think, a great many people do indeed keep on trying to crack that code in various ways.

      1. I believe everything you have said. Perhaps it needs to be a more unified, organized effort by more than a few people. There is a meeting for concerned folks in Memphis on Thursday night. The details are in another post, but maybe Shirley would pop them up to the top so everyone can see them.
        Don’t give up, please. It’s much too important.

  2. Three years ago I attended NACA training (National Animal Control Association) in Nashville – and in attendance was a woman from Memphis. She was with the Humane Society – and she paid for all the expenses herself. She was distraght about the fact that so many of their volunteers and offers to help were ignored and banned from Memphis. And nothing has changed. WHY are the workers unionized? Does this even make sense? WHY does MAS continue to even try to run this facility when they obviously can NOT do so. Is there so much apathy and corruption in Memphis that no group of citizens will stand up and step up to a consistent challenge of this horror shop?

  3. As always, a great post……they do because they can….killing appears to be the easiest thing for them to do…….look at how many pets they have listed on PH….empty kennels= less work – just collect a paycheck….disgusted!!!! RIP sweet pup, had we known about you, we could have helped you!

  4. If the No Kill Memphis group continues to not take political action I believe quite a few more. It may take someone important in Memphis speaking out that has a personal experience. For example that has their beloved pet become lost, find their way to the shelter and be unfairly killed. Not that I wish that on anyone but my point is when bad things happen to powerful people they try to institute change.

  5. Dear YesBiscut, I know of a shelter in Texas.. I will give you the name, but on Facebook they post their animals and if they don’t already have a URI and are heartworm positive, they get that way in a short while.. I have tried to talk to this shelter but to no avail. Possibly YOU can have a go at them. I’m tired of talking but I share and make people aware that every animal at this shelter either has or will get a URI! It’s the Irving Animal Shelter, in Irving, Texas. How do they expect to place a sick animal?? I would imagine they have this disease running rampant at the facility and it CAN be dealt with!! WHY don’t they do something about it!!! I’m so angry I could just SPIT!!! Thanks Ms. Biscuit .. for listening… “Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened” Kathie


  6. The culture of abuse, cruelty and corruption will continue at MAS until citizens will stand up and demand changes. Every time I read this blog with the horrendous stories from Memphis, I ask myself how much more needs to happen to this animals until somebody finally takes a stand. Where is No Kill Memphis? Is there any other local group that can take a stand? How much more, Memphis? Do something.

    1. Thank you for expressing the frustration I feel every time I read something or even think about what’s happening at MAS. Why is no one stepping up to do something? What is it going to take to wake up the people of Memphis? I know that Denise has tried, but she can’t do it herself. And the No Kill Memphis website is basically outdated and non-functional. Is there no one who is willing to take this on?
      How many innocent animals will have to be tortured, abused and die before someone will do something?

  7. Does the “new” director show up to work? If he does, does he go into his office and shut the door? Apparently, it’s business as usual since he stepped in and made promises of big changes. Where the fuck is he? And why is he letting this continue under his watch and where the hell is the Mayor and why is he doing nothing even though he’s completely aware of the horrors at the MAS? MAS is as bad as the NY ACC! I didn’t think that could be possible.

  8. Looks like a meeting for advocates has been set for Thursday, September 13, at 6:30 pm. at the Junior League of Memphis, in their Community Resource Center, 3475 Central Avenue (Southwest corner of Central and Highland). Saw this on the No-Kill Memphis facebook page.

    1. Hopefully this will be the beginning of the changes that need to happen. Anything I can do from a distance, let me know.
      I’m not on facebook so haven’t been able to see what they’re doing there – hope that is more active and current than their website.

    2. Sorry, Jamie – didn’t see your post before I entered mine. I hope others will show and that we get somewhere.

  9. I hope to be there – I’ve pretty much spammed everyone I know with the meeting details. I hope more show.


    Thursday, September 13, at 6:30 pm. at the Junior League of Memphis, in their Community Resource Center, 3475 Central Avenue (Southwest corner of Central and Highland).

    NOTE: Community Action for Animals (CAA) will report on the court proceedings for the three MAS employees charged with Felony Animal Cruelty (CAA attended the September 5 hearing).

    1. Hey, Linda–I don’t know who’s actually running this meeting, but if anyone is on Google+ they can possibly set up a Google hangout, so that those of us who can’t be there can attend online.

      It’s very easy to do, and it might generate even more interest and participation….

      If you or anyone can speak to the organizers and get them to agree, that would be awesome!

  10. Do the folks with Community Action for Animals not know a lawyer willing to get involved? Doesn’t Memphis have a Ryan Clinton that will not stand for the cruelty and killing at MAS?

      1. This question has been raised several times over the last year or so. As an attorney just south of Memphis (only licensed in Mississippi), I’d like to respond and explain the dilemma the advocates are faced with. I have contacted MANY attorneys who are licensed in Tennessee to see if they will help and the consensus seems to be that no one wants to take on the City. The economy has affected attorneys just like everyone else and most attorneys that would normally take on this kind of work are also practicing in City Court. In order to keep up a successful repertoire with the city (and, therefore, continue to obtain favorable rulings in city court), each of the attorneys I have talked to have turned me down. They simply don’t want to ruffle any feathers. With that said, I really hope that someone with some guts WILL step up. We all may need to do more searching to find them, though. The bar website has a listing of all active Tenn. attorneys with their email addresses. Maybe if we all email a few of them, SOMEONE will want to help.

      2. Thank you, Jamie, for confirming what many of us have suspected. The long arm of wharton et al reaches into the courts, too. So the culture of cruelty and corruption continues in Memphis and Tennessee. What a shame!

      3. I shouldn’t have used the phrase “favorable rulings” as I was not tying to imply that the judges are corrupt. What I was referring to is better described “a good working relationship” with the city prosecutors, judges and court staff, i.e. scheduling accommodations, procedural leniency, reasonable continuances, etc.

  11. Jamie – thank you for your compassion and your work. I have experienced this in spades as Director of two Animal Control Departments here in Tennessee. The lack of respect for animals and the lack of care to enforce even the basic Animal Law here runs deep. It is a multigenerational culture of abuse and neglect and the feeling that it is OK to do it. Over and Over cases are thrown out by ADAs and never even get to court! And when they do – well they are mostly thrown out. It’s pervasive. The public has grown and demands change – but the Good Ole Boys and Girls simply will not allow anything to shake up their control of the money and the processes. We MUST continue the fight and shedding bright lights on the deep dark horrors that are an everyday occurence.

  12. It’s a little discouraging to know that some attorneys wont bother to help, but it’s also good to know that some people have emailed them to ask them in the first place (thanks Jamie!!). That is progress and a step in the right direction. We really need someone who can do this without worrying about “ruffling any feathers” though. Does the lawyer HAVE to be from Tennessee? I honestly don’t know how that works, never had to use a lawyer. This is a bit worrisome but I will remain optimistic for the animals’ sake. Keep up the good fight, people!

Leave a Reply