Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co Committed to Killing Truffles

Truffles is a 2 1/2 year old spayed female mixed breed dog at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, a private shelter in TN. There is a video of her posted on YouTube which promotes her as an adoptable dog. I am neither a behaviorist nor an expert but in my layman’s opinion, Truffles looks uncomfortable in this video, especially when she has her personal face-space invaded, which is often. It’s obvious the people doing the invading love her and are trying to help her get adopted but don’t seem to read her in the same way I am. The thing that most impressed me about Truffles was the continued restraint she exhibited every time she felt uncomfortable. She never bares her teeth, nips or bites. And certainly a dog with less restraint would have done so in my opinion. Watch the video for yourself and see what you think:

Truffles was reportedly adopted and returned recently after a child kissed her on the head while the dog was asleep. Truffles apparently bit the child in the face. Based upon what I saw in the video, this does not surprise me. Awake Truffles will choose again and again to exercise restraint when someone gets in her face-space. Sleeping Truffles does not have that luxury. When she was startled awake by a kid in her face, she reacted with a bite. I am sorry for the child who was bitten and for the family who adopted Truffles. I do not know what sort of counseling they were given by the HS when they adopted Truffles. Nor do I know whether the child was given appropriate instructions on interacting with the dog. Sometimes children don’t follow directions. That happens.  The results of which account for many dog bites involving children unfortunately.

At any rate, I have been contacted by several individuals who are concerned because the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co is reportedly going to kill Truffles on Tuesday. The HS has apparently refused all offers to save Truffles’ life, including signing any waiver of their choosing and placing her with a rescue group or sanctuary. I have reached out to the HS several times but have not received a response. There may be more to Truffles’ story but if there is, the HS is not telling it.

The bottom line is this: Truffles has a right to live. There is no court order requiring the HS to kill Truffles. She has not been given any chance at long term behavioral modification by a qualified behaviorist or group. She reportedly failed to exercise restraint once out of countless opportunities.  She made a mistake.  People around her may have made mistakes too.  She should not be killed for it.  As I said, I am just a layman but it seems obvious to me from the video that this dog could be safely placed in an appropriate environment and represent no threat to the public. Why is the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co refusing to advocate for Truffles’ right to live? Worse still, why is the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co determined to kill Truffles in the face of reasonable alternatives?

On the FAQ page of the HS website, it says:

I would like to report animal cruelty. How do I do that?
Please call our cruelty investigator at 901-937-3910 with the address of the animal, as well as the potential violations.

But who do citizens call if the cruelty is happening at the HS?   Killing a healthy/treatable pet, which is what Truffles appears to be, is the ultimate form of cruelty.  Is there anyone who will advocate for Truffles?

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28 Comments

  1. This is super sad. It makes me extremely grateful that when my foster dog’s adoption fell through and he was surrendered to the Nebraska Humane Society that they found me and were very willing to let me have him back – even though he showed aggression toward shelter workers. They clearly understood that the dog would be fine in the right environment (i.e. not a shelter and, apparently, not the home he was adopted into).
    Based the video, Truffles actually seems more well-adjusted than my foster dog, which makes her case even more of a shame.

    Reply
  2. lisbeth

     /  March 24, 2013

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this dog. The only thing that is wrong is well-mening volunteers setting a really bad example for potential adopters in the way they are handling her. Letting an unknown person lift her up and hold her to his face??? Sharing a hamburger?? As you say, on several occasions its obvious that she is uncomfortable, but she is “putting up” with it. Once again, a dog is facing death, due to “being rescued”…

    Reply
    • Grace Esperillo

       /  March 24, 2013

      I work at the AutoZone and the dog wasn’t picked up. The man was on his knees and she jumped up to greet him and lick away! I think that dog welcomed everyone that day to our store!

      Reply
    • Thomas Biffle

       /  March 25, 2013

      The video wasn’t shown to adopters or anyone else until the dog was sentenced to be euthanized and friends of the foster family shared it. This was just a “home movie” made by the foster family during an overnight visit with the dog and a Saturday out having some fun. Regardless, the dog was friendly, excited , and obviously loved this family .

      Reply
  3. jen

     /  March 24, 2013

    I really don’t like it when people refer to a dog as a “biter” just because they’ve bitten once, even a minor nip, as evidence that they could maul someone or something. ANY dog could bite, so ANY dog could be a “biter.” The difference between a “biter” and a “non-biter” seems to be luck half the time, as the “non-biter” just hasn’t been pushed to defending itself yet.

    I wish I had a way to tell dogs that even their inhibited warning bite (or hell, a warning growl) could be a death sentence. I wish they knew they had to be completely unable to defend themselves.

    Reply
  4. db

     /  March 24, 2013

    Anything we can do to help Truffles live?

    Reply
    • Maybe try contacting the HS with polite, respectful requests not to kill Truffles. Remember, we can strongly disagree with and condemn a shelter’s decision to needlessly kill pets while maintaining a civil tone. http://www.memphishumane.org/about-us-122/contact-us

      On Sun, Mar 24, 2013 at 12:10 PM, YesBiscuit!

      Reply
      • db

         /  March 24, 2013

        Done! Hope others join me in contacting them.

      • Thank you db. I too hope others will contact them with respectful comments. File it under “Can’t hurt, might help”. Truffles is still alive today AFAIK and where there’s life, there’s hope.

  5. Time and time again has shown us that an escalation path doesn’t really amount to much in the animal welfare world. For example, if there was someone to report it to, other the news, what would they do? Likely nothing or defend the actions of the so-call experts who made the decision, when even a reasonable person would question the decision.

    Reply
  6. Grace Esperillo

     /  March 24, 2013

    Contact the Board of Directors and demand that the execution be halted and the dog be allowed a proper behavior analysis and release to a qualified rescue group. BTW, the man in the video isn’t picking her up, he is on his knees and she is jumping up on him to lick his face. She is a very affectionate dog.

    Reply
  7. That’s a tolerant dog.

    I’d definitely have bitten whomever kept slathering on the babytalk.

    I agree with lisbeth.

    This video encourages a kind of thoughtless intrusiveness that amounts to a setup for catastrophic failure. I was waiting for the clip of the kid sticking a pencil in the dog’s ear, with the title “See, she loves kids! They can do *anything* to her!”

    I’ve done adoption promo videos for a few of my fosters. My choice is always to show the dog *doing* things, such as obedience or being tested on stock, with some information about how much effort it took to achieve those skills. Other than sit for a cookie, this dog doesn’t seem to have been taught to do anything. (No, sit for a cookie is not a training accomplishment.)

    But training is harder than eating from the same burger. When you train, you have to listen to the dog.

    Reply
  8. I recognize that not every dog is a safe dog in every home and everyone’s hands, but this is pretty much a no-brainer to me. This is the kind of dog the “no kids” caution on Petfinder was invented for. This is a dog that even my dog-savvy but not-professional-trainer’s eye can see was doing everything she could to avoid biting.

    And regardless, dogs who are aggressive, even dogs who bite, deserve to live if they can do so safely and without suffering. This dog, unlike so many others, has a large number of people advocating for her and willing to get her to a safe place — safe for her, and safe for other people. It’s absurd and cruel for a place that calls itself a “humane society” would not exhaust every one of these alternatives before taking her life.

    There are dogs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary right now who cannot ever leave, but who live good, happy lives with people who know dogs and believe they have a right to live.

    There are so many dogs who die unnoticed, unremarked. This is not one of those dogs. This is a dog who has many eyes on her, and many caring hearts pulling for her. To ignore that, to pretend you have “no choice,” is immoral and inhumane.

    Reply
  9. mikken

     /  March 24, 2013

    It is appalling to me that the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County is going to kill this dog. The very people who should be ADVOCATING for this dog’s right to live are going to kill her? That is offensive on every level.

    In their mission statement they say, “An important part of our work is giving these animals the emotional support, training and socialization abilities that will allow them to be adopted into new and loving homes and long-lasting relationships.”

    Ok, how about giving Truffles some emotional support, training, and socialization abilities that will allow her to survive in your care past Tuesday? Or how about educating adopters about correct behavior around a dog? If you can’t do that, then give her to someone who can so she can live and you get a waiver or whatever you need to salve your conscience.

    Because what you’re planning now is mindless slaughter and it’s reprehensible.

    Reply
  10. Compounding this is the fact that animal rescuers throughout the country can attest that such incidents are tragically common; that there are, in fact, thousands upon thousands of animals killed by animal shelters throughout the country every year, despite the offers of No Kill shelters, sanctuaries, and rescue groups willing to give these animals the second chance they so richly deserve, and which is the animals’ birthright, but are prevented from doing so by shelter directors who simply decide to say “No.”

    It is time to take away their power to do so, a discretion they abuse time and time again to the detriment of the animals and to the detriment of those who want and have the ability to save them. We need strong shelter reform legislation in every state that forces shelter leadership to operate in a progressive, life-affirming way.

    With rigorous and comprehensive mandates codified in law comes accountability. And with accountability comes an end to the tragic killing of millions of animals each and every year. When shelter directors no longer have discretion to kill animals, the era of the status quo will be over.

    Reply
  11. And once again a dog pays for human failure. It is the parents’ fault as much as the shelter’s – they should have kept the child from doing such things with a new pet. Truffles, and any other new pet – especially one adopted from a shelter – need time to adjust to the new home, the new people, the new sounds, etc. To not give them that time can bring trouble.

    And obviously the shelter staff ignored – or truly is ignorant about – dog behavior and warning signs. While pet owners can be unknowledgable, and often are with a first pet, shelter staff never should be.

    Reply
  12. Arlene

     /  March 25, 2013

    Truffles does not deserve to be killed. This dog was sleeping and was accosted by a child that had not been taught to respect him. The fault lies entirely on the adults in that child’s life. I have many times had to reprimand children when interacting with dogs that were eating, sleeping, and walking on leash down the street with others on how to behave properly.

    Truffles is a dog who all day long tolerated people in his face. Clearly awake and given a choice he chose to refrain from any behavior that would be deemed improper. He was simply startled out of a sleep, a time when he should have been left alone and not surprised with any child in his personal space.

    The shelter is far to quick to say that he should die for that. He deserves to live and he should be given a chance to do that.

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  March 25, 2013

      And the very shelter who SHOULD be advocating for Truffles is intent on killing her even though they have options not to! There is NO justification for that choice. None.

      Reply
  13. Truffles deserves a chance at life. She deserves to be in the care of people who understand that each animal has her limits with regards to how she will allow people to treat her. She deserves training from someone who understands dogs and will teach her what she needs to know in order to succeed in life. It appears that she has not been given these basic things. I hope that the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County will realize that it is a perversion of the word ‘humane’ to kill a dog rather than provide basic consideration and training.

    Reply
  14. Erica

     /  March 25, 2013

    They made the video private & it can no longer be viewed……trying to do a little CYA?!?!?

    Reply
    • That’s a shame. The video is, to my mind, solid evidence that Truffles is a very tolerant dog. Without it, anyone can mischaracterize her as a bloodthirsty Pitbull who ate a kid’s face. On the plus side, many people saw it before it was made private. The truth is out there. Can’t put that back in the bag.

      Reply
    • Aaargh. Did no one download/capture it?

      Reply
  15. Arlene

     /  March 25, 2013

    “The video wasn’t shown to adopters or anyone else until the dog was sentenced to be euthanized and friends of the foster family shared it. This was just a “home movie” made by the foster family during an overnight visit with the dog and a Saturday out having some fun. Regardless, the dog was friendly, excited , and obviously loved this family .”

    The purpose must have been to bring attention to the fact that this dog was sentenced to be euthanized. Otherwise what was the purpose of releasing this tape?

    This was a tolerant and friendly dog. The mistake was not the fault of the dog but the fault of the adults not correcting a child. I’m sorry for the child, but no way should Truffles pay with his very life.

    Reply
  16. Bill

     /  March 28, 2013

    FOR ME THIS IS THE END OF THE LINE FOR. THE DIRECTOR AND HS.SEEMS TO ME THEY JUST COLLECT MONEY FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE CONCERNED FOR ANIMALS. AND DO AS THEY PLEASE

    Reply
  17. Lara

     /  March 28, 2013

    That Humane Society staff is anit-pitbull now. They are trying to put down every one they have. They already put down tons of them for no reason- some even do not have any bite history!! Alexis and Whitney are horrible people. They use the bluff of “public safety” to put down dogs that are completely non-aggressive just because they’re pitbull types.

    Reply
  18. Debbie

     /  March 30, 2013

    I live in Tennessee and I am appalled at the conditions and practices at too many of our shelters. This one can be added to the list! I have seen this week where Big Fluffy Dog is getting involved in Warren County, I believe it is. I wish they, or equally large national groups, would take on each of these shelters one-by-one. It probably wouldn’t help any more than each of us individually does, but at least it might bring more heat on to them…if the pressure can be kept on these death camps.

    Reply
  19. I have reached out to Memphis Humane Society on many numerous occasions for help in every kind of way for all kinds of circumstances, yet NOT ONCE have they done anything for helping any animal that needed it. They only wanted to kill the animals in need or brushed me off for everything else they could. I believe they are in business strictly for personal gain, not providing help in any way to anyone I’ve ever heard of needing assistance with an animal.

    The chief honcho there sure does live well for all the lack of help they offer animals.

    Reply

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