Memphis Pound Cites Local Rescuer, Seizes Dogs by Court Order

In August 2012, the city of Memphis sent representatives from every conceivable division to the home of a dog rescuer who had a couple dozen dogs on her property. These are the initial notes with some personal info redacted (click to enlarge image):

Follow up visits were conducted and ultimately the rescuer went to court on the citation. The judge apparently ordered her to surrender several dogs to MAS. While I don’t know what happened in this specific court case, it generally happens that rescuers who get in over their heads and wind up in court are ordered to reduce their numbers, ostensibly for the welfare of the animals. It seems a reasonable guess that may have happened in this case. It’s hard to imagine any other reason a judge would order the surrender of dogs who were obviously being cared for, even if the circumstances were less than ideal.

The following dogs were surrendered to MAS by court order on October 11, 2012:  Blade, Sweet Pea, Lady Bug, Piper, Lillie and Smudge.  If you look at the notes on their cage cards, several of them were already neutered and there are notations that include “sweet dog”, “housebroken” and “leash trained”.  Though one of the dogs was 10 years old, the rest were all 1 – 2 years of age.  I look at these dogs and I see highly adoptable pets.  MAS interim director James M. Rogers looked at them (on paper, at least) and ordered every single one of them be immediately killed.

MAS killed all 6 dogs on October 12, 2012. They were never offered for adoption to my knowledge and no pleas were issued to the public or to rescue groups or fosters. Is this what the judge had in mind when the order to surrender dogs was issued to the rescuer? Does this represent an improvement in the quality of life for these dogs? Is this the best the city of Memphis can manage when called upon to help 6 pets in their $7.2 million facility?

How many more, Memphis?

39 thoughts on “Memphis Pound Cites Local Rescuer, Seizes Dogs by Court Order

  1. I was as the shelter on October 11th near closing time and asked Terry Gibson for the ID numbers to these dogs so that they could be networked. He refused to give them to me.

  2. Spayed, sweet, trained – refuses to release id to get her networked – killed without giving her or the others who all look in good condition and highly adoptable a chance! Call me crazy but seems to me somebody just might WANT to kill pets.

  3. I think at this point the evidence is in: MAS is intended as a city-run slaughterhouse – that’s their conception of ‘animal control,’ kill any who might be even remotely inconvenient. Any who make it out alive do so incidentally, not by design.

    1. I am sometimes privy to the efforts of rescuers to get pets out of MAS. The extremes to which MAS is willing to go in order to prevent rescuers from getting pets out alive is astonishing. These are people trying to do your job for you, for free, and will ultimately improve your image w/the public who pays your salary. All they would have to do is sit back and allow the pets to leave alive and yet the spend time and energy trying to block these lifesaving efforts. I don’t understand why someone isn’t chaining themselves to the front doors of this place every day and demanding an end to the abuse.

      On Sun, Nov 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM, YesBiscuit!

    2. Eucritta, I agree. They do not believe that it is their job to save lives, they believe that it is their job to catch and kill. So, from that point of view, anyone intent on saving lives is actually “getting in their way” of them “doing their job”.

      And I think this is the heart of the problem in Memphis. Until there is leadership that thinks that a shelter should function as a shelter rather than as a slaughterhouse, the killing will go on and on unabated.

  4. OK, so living with a “strong odor” and with a large number of animals, but with food and water and a CLEAN play yard (with no feces in it) is worse than being dead? I’m not at all clear this lady was “over her head.” it is an easy thing to say but even the notes don’t indicate the animals were in any sort of distress,and that’s with people looking to find things wrong. We need to STICK BY these rescuers instead of throwing the “hoarding” bat at them.
    Do you think this lady will ever rescue another animal after having these 6 dogs ripped away from her and killed after she had rescued them, loved them and cared for them? Would you? Do you think that is on balance good for animals in Memphis, even if the shelter was making a genuine attempt to be no kill? (Because they would need, you know, RESCUERS to become no kill)?
    This needs to stop.
    These judges are under public pressure to stop “animal abuse” even though it seems clear to me that no animal abuse was occurring except on the part of the shelter. This judge needs to be taken to task for ever doing this. Even if the shelter was no kill, there seems to have been no reason to send these dogs there. So yes, bad shelter, but bad judge too. My empathy is with the rescuer. The dogs are dead but I bet she suffers every day.

    1. To reiterate, I don’t know the specific details of this court case. I speculated it was a case where the judge perceived the rescuer had taken on too many dogs and it would mean an increase in the quality of life if numbers were reduced. My reason for this line of thinking is that it’s something we see so often in similar type cases and it would be hard to imagine any other scenarios in this case where the dogs appeared to be cared for.

      On Sun, Nov 11, 2012 at 11:16 AM, YesBiscuit!

      1. That’s the point it doesn’t occur that often. There were only 146 hoarding type cases as reported by for the entire country for 2010 and most were not even self proclaimed rescuers, let alone formal ones. I will be posting the exact break down soon. The 146 includes all those alleged, convicted and not charged!

      2. @Yesbiscuit. Judges will almost always “perceive” that rescuers have taken on “too many” dogs because people do not understand rescue. The average person watches hoarders on tv, decides that they could never care for xx amount of dogs or cats adequately because they can only care for 1 or 2 or 3 animals, and that anyone who has more than 1 or 2 or 3 animals must be a “hoarder.” It certainly appears from looking at the report you published that no animals were in distress at any time. It is really scary out here for small, independent, home based rescue, and I hear from more and more good people every day who decide that doing rescue is just not worth the risk of something like this (or even Goddess forbid worse) happening.
        @Pet Advocates – is not a reliable site. They post newspaper reports and as you mentioned they post things that are alleged and not charged. They ruin people’s lives and do not care. Also, if the case does not hit the newspaper they do not report it. So what they are is an aggregate of published news reports which are often inaccurate to begin with. I know MANY rescuers who are on It doesn’t mean they are animal abusers. A published allegation is enough, in fact they do not remove people who are tried and found not guilty.

      3. Kelley – It seems to me everyone is on the same side here. I’m not sure why you are attempting to change that. Can’t we all just agree to agree?

  5. As I found out previously, Memphis gets $30 for killing EVERY dog. That means, Memphis got $180.00 for killing these six dogs in one day! Theat is more than most people earn by WORKING in one week! Close this place down!!!

  6. Yes – we all would like the source for the information! How can I find out the Judge over this case? I really want to contact the Judge…

    1. In a portion of the records not shown in this post, the notes say “Judge Potter”. I’ll go double check now to see if there is any add’l info and if there is, I will add it here.

  7. Liz, please tell us….WHO pays $30 to MAS for each dog killed? Why would anyone do that? Looking at the killing every day that goes on there it appears that they would be making money but how? Please explain.

    1. I’m also from Michigan. Anything I can do (from a bit of a distance) to help? MHS needs to be fixed – and fast. (Shirley has my permission to give you my email if you want it)

  8. We had a confiscation here in Sonoma County in August too. The woman was a rescuer and also got in over her head. She is a sweet older lady. The dogs were healthy and fine. The Director of Health even said the dogs were fine. What did the County Shelter do? Killed some. And killed ones that were not signed away by the owner, which is against the law. Yep! They just kill here, doesn’t matter about things like laws. But they should here the train heading down the tracks coming at them for what they did! Those dogs are not being killed without a voice! We don’t want this kind of injustice happening to anyone else.

    Sonoma County fired Amy Cooper once for very good reasons and because someone in the Supervisor’s Office liked her, not because of any skill set she had. This County rehired this incompetent woman. She does not have the skills to run the Shelter and breaks laws. Nor is she a compassionate Director. She didn’t even call this woman when they killed her dogs, I told her. It’s madness in Sonoma County. Do not move here if you love your animals!

    If you live in Sonoma County, please help us…join No Kill Sonoma County

    1. Vickie, I’d love to join NKSC, but it appears to only be on Facebook. I’m not on Facebook – I was, and left because of their cavalier attitude towards personal privacy, which is a big issue for me as I’ve had trouble with harassment in the past. I’m sorry, but I’m not going back.

      Are there any plans to expand to a blog, or to meetings in person?

      1. Sigh. Damn it. Every time this comes up here, I ask basically the same question, and all I get is crickets.

    2. If the dogs were “healthy and fine” how exactly was she “in over her head?” It sounds to me as if she was NOT in fact “in over her head” but that someone ELSE decided that she was. And how are animals benefiting from whoever’s decision this was?

  9. It seems to me that judges don’t just decide by themselves to have dogs picked up for whatever reason. Someone had to go to his court and present a compelling reason to the judge sign the warrant to pick up those dogs. Who was that? That is the person who is responsible for the dogs being taken away from the lady. They apparently lied to the judge to have that happen since the dogs were good body weight.

    Then here comes Rogers and MAS and conveniently kills those poor dogs! It makes me sick to see the depravity that occurs there daily. Where are the citizens of Memphis? Why aren’t they standing up and doing something?

  10. Everything I read makes me believe that Memphis is one of the lowest, most corrupt places on earth. Rogers is acting as the head of a charnel house and any animal going into MAS stands a snowball’s chance in hell of being allowed to live. This is a huge stain on the reputation of the City of Memphis, and interestingly the Mayor, Councillors and others don’t seem to give a damm.

  11. I was in court for this and heard the proceedings and saw all the evidence. The inside of the house was pretty bad and the dogs would have been better in other homes, but NOT at MAS. This case did not go to court once, the Judge gave the defendant several reset dates to allow her to reduce her numbers. Ona and I tried to work with her, as did the Humane Society who offered to s/n and vaccinate all the dogs at no charge, she brought her own dogs to them, not those that needed placement. Ona and I offered to hold an adoption event for the dogs, refused by the owner. We offered to have the dogs groomed, refused. Ona offered to photograph the dogs, refused. The owner’s FB page was full of pleas from the public to post photos, to return calls about the dogs, etc. The Judge gave the owner chances to reduce the number of dogs through outside fostering and adoption, NOT at MAS. At one point the Judge ordered the owner to work WITH the local rescues offering their help to her. Again, she refused and when she came to court she signed over the dogs to MAS though she was told by me in front of her attorney that they would be immediately killed because she was surrendering them. Still she signed.

    The Judge, local rescues and rescuers, Ona and I tried to help her and her dogs.

    MAS killed these dogs because that is all they seem to care about.
    MAS is, once again, the culprit here.

    1. Thank you for doing what you could. I don’t know how anyone could have done more. MAS is one of the culprits, but the owner bears some serious responsibility here, too. She refused offers of help for the dogs, over and over again.
      RIP pups – I’m sorry that you ended up dead through no fault of your own. You deserved so much better. There were so many trying to help you.

    2. Thank you, Cindy and the others that tried to help these dogs.

      People should know that it is possible to reform their pound to make them put life-saving policies in place, like so many other places are doing.

      These changes could help save taxpayers money at the same time! If MAS is currently being paid extra to kill animals, there is no incentive to save lives.

      If you live in Memphis, this is YOUR tax money!

      Most people believe shelter pets deserve the chance to get adopted. Most people don’t like government corruption or animal neglect either.

      If Memphis residents agree, they need to click on the “Memphis Animal Services – Take Action” link near the top of this page for this link:

      Shelter pets can’t do this. They NEED you to do this for them!


  12. Thank you Cindy. Clearly she was offered help by many. This breaks my heart! Those puppies deserved more.

  13. Absolutely disgusting. James M. should lose his job immediately. Are our shelters there to help animals find homes & benefit the public or are they just killing factories? The city of Memphis needs to demand accountability.

    1. This is standard operating procedure for MAS. It is a killing factory and they make it incredibly hard for adopters and rescues to take the animals out of there. And, quite frankly, those in charge have supported the abuse and killing through several directors. It starts at the top and goes all the way to many of the animal care personnel. The strays of Memphis, in my opinion, have a much better chance of survival on the streets.
      The mayor and his staff are very aware of their reputation, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.
      Until the animal people in the area can organize and take action, we will continue to read of such tragedies.

  14. I’m thinking the lady with all the dogs was doing what she could to save what chosen dogs she could, even if it meant sacrificing the six. I don’t understand why she would refuse help with all of them on more than one occasion. But I do understand MAS & Mr. Rogers’culture of killing first as adoptions take a back seat. When MAS is involved, dogs & cats will die.

    I know first hand how MAS, the police & heath department can desend on your home because of someone’s misconceptions & hatred. Thankfully, after a clean bill of health, everyone but my dogs, cats & myself left empty handed. But I can imagine the loss this lady felt over knowing the fate of the six she once cared enough for to take in to her home. She, as well as the dogs, are the victims. Mr. Rogers has the blood on his hands.

    1. They told her they would kill the dogs and she left them there anyway. There is plenty of blame to go around.

  15. I moved to Memphis two years ago, MAS is a hell hole. I rescued the most wonderful dog from there. Her time was up and they were going to kill her. I refuse to use the term euthanasia, that is for pets that are terminally ill and need to be put to rest for comfort only.

  16. This was a very unfortunate situation. I agree with everything Cindy wrote. Several people tried to help and Catie refused to allow it. On the day she was supposed to take 8 dogs to be S/N for free to the Humane Society, she only showed up with 5 dogs. Pictures: She wouldnt allow me (or several others) to even do something as simple as take better pictures but circulated a Facebook album of unappealing pictures of her dogs. The Judge was fair to her but it is Memphis Animal Services that is a complete failure. They killed these dogs without a chance for adoption.

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