Allegations of Dog Killings and Fraud at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co

After posting yesterday about Truffles, I heard from some additional animal advocates who are concerned about killings at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, a private shelter in TN.  Apparently the planned killing of Truffles is not an isolated incident.

Toffee, a dog at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, slated for killing.  (Photo submitted by a reader)
Toffee, a dog at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, slated for killing. (Photo submitted by a reader.)

Toffee, a littermate to Truffles, is also reportedly slated for killing by the HS.  Her Petango listing has been removed but she can be seen in a recent local news segment as “Pet of the Week”.

Joy, a dog at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, slated for killing. (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Joy, a dog at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, slated for killing. (Photo submitted by a reader.)

Joy is another dog who is reportedly going to be killed by the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co.  I don’t know why the HS would kill either Toffee or Joy.  I still haven’t received any response from the HS so I haven’t been able to ask them for their side of the story.

In addition to these alleged planned killings, there have reportedly been dozens of other dogs killed in the past year or so at the HS.  They were all apparently longtime residents of the shelter and many of them were part of a HS program called Anakin’s Buddies:

[T]he Humane Society launched the Anakin’s Buddies program, which allows volunteer dog walkers to sponsor the adoption fee for a rescued animal at the humane society.


Many of the Anakin’s Buddies dogs have called the humane society home for several years, and volunteers cannot understand why no one has adopted them. As a result, many of them sponsor more than one dog. “When a volunteer sponsors a dog, they are basically vouching for that dog,” said Kelly Jo Graves, executive manager. “Every Anakin’s Buddy is sponsored by a dog walker who knows them well and has bonded strongly with them.”

Animal advocates allege that after accepting the funds to cover the adoption fees for the dogs in the program, the HS kills some of them and pockets the cash.  Four dogs allegedly killed under these circumstances:

Graham, a dog in the Anakin's Buddies program, who was killed last week by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co.  (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Graham, a dog in the Anakin’s Buddies program, who was killed last week by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co. (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Graham, a dog in the Anakin's Buddies program, who was killed this month by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co.  Milton swam in flood waters for 2 days to stay alive before being "rescued" by the HS.  (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Milton, a dog in the Anakin’s Buddies program, who was killed this month by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co. Milton swam in flood waters for 2 days to stay alive before being “rescued” by the HS. (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Hollywood, a dog in the Anakin's Buddies program, who was killed by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co.  (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Hollywood, a dog in the Anakin’s Buddies program, who was killed by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co. (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Shelby Angel, a dog in the Anakin's Buddies program, who was killed on Valentine's Day by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co.  (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Shelby Angel, a dog in the Anakin’s Buddies program, who was killed on Valentine’s Day by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co. (Photo submitted by a reader.)

Again, I have been unable to ask the HS about these allegations since they have not responded to my queries. I am not an attorney but if the accusations of pocketing cash paid by volunteers, purportedly to help dogs get adopted who are instead killed, are accurate, it sounds like fraud to me.  It reminds me of Boggs Mountain, the place in GA that was scamming financial sponsorships from the public for dogs they were taking over to the pound to be killed.  This is the first time I have heard of a shelter allegedly scamming money from its own volunteers.  I think they call this Rock Bottom.

Is there anyone willing to advocate for Toffee, Joy and Truffles?  Tell the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co, in polite terms, that all dogs have a right to live and that killing healthy/treatable pets is inconsistent with their mission as a so-called humane society.  Remember to keep your comments respectful.  We can condemn the allegations of wrongdoing in the strongest possible terms while maintaining civility.

“No animal is here because of bad things it’s done.” – Sue Putnam, HS volunteer credited with starting the Anakin’s Buddies program

66 thoughts on “Allegations of Dog Killings and Fraud at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby Co

  1. I can’t think of anything nice to say about killing these precious pets, so I can’t make a comment at this time.
    It never ends with this so called “shelter”.

  2. Oh my! I was Shelby Angel’s rescuer. I loved her so much, and she was a wonderful dog. I was heart broken to walk in there on Valentines day to volunteer, only to find she was put down. I have been very, very, very upset at what has been going on there. I think as of Feb, there may have been at least 14 PTS. in 2 months!!!! Gwendolyn and Pirate are two others. I haven’t had the heart to update Shelby’s blog, but I will do it now.

      1. I posted earlier about 2 weeks ago that I would be willing to do an interview. HSMSC regularly euthanizes dogs and cats, particulary those dumped in Shelby Farms. At one time they had a sign on the door if anyone tied their pets to the doors after hours, that the dogs or cats would be taken to MAS. If pets are injured badly and they cannot heal it for whatever reason, then those pets are killed.

    1. Hoss apparently suffered that same fate. Where is the oversight? They ask for money for a mission that they don’t even support.

  3. I’d bet its true. I am not sure who is the director atm but I know after
    Butch and John left everything went down hill. They started hiring personality desk worker. Everytime I would donate something they would act like I am causing them more work. Nobody is every able to help me when I go up there.

  4. It is known here that the HSMSC is not an exclusive no kill shelter. Quite the contrary; dogs left on ropes at the front doors after hours, pets hit by cars at Shelby Farms, close to the shelter, and strays. If they are unhealthy, they will put them down, or they will take them to MAS. Some of the management has changed, so that may be why the killings have increased. It is still a far cry better from MAS, but it is distressing.

      1. Yes, please, someone in that city or nearby….voice those concerns. Sometimes the only thing to get positive change for the animals is to turn the spotlight on these so-called “shelters”. They do NOT want bad publicity because if the media gets hold of it, there WILL be people paying attention and nasty consequences via legal problems could result. Best way I know to get change for the better for those poor babies.

      2. Of course I would not object. I have taken animals to HSMSC before and that is how I learned what they do; however, it has become more of a concern since reading the allegations.

  5. What the hell is going on there? They are killing their own dogs and tricking the volunteers into giving them money to “save” dogs that they kill?

  6. Is there no end to the evil that is done to innocent animals? How low does a person have to go to reach the pits of hell? Taking money from volunteers to save the dogs that they kill? WTH is wrong with these people? All I have is questions. I am sickened by this. Couldn’t they be reported to the authorities of the county for fraud?

    Whatever is going on there needs to stop immediately. Those in charge need to be arrested and charged. Rescues need to go get the remaining dogs out of there or they may not be there to save.

  7. I know HSMSC to be one of the most dedicated and “do everything we can to help animals”-type organizations in Memphis. I am simply choosing to believe that this is not true, and that there is a logical explanation. I would encourage everyone to wait on their response, which I’m also choosing to believe is coming, and not begin spreading this as a definite “truth” among your friends and on Facebook, etc. HSMSC has done a lot of work to try and help our horrific city shelter, MAS. I cannot and will not believe that they’ve sent an animal there.

    1. Grace, I am so sorry you feel that way, but it is true, as I was told this by an employee. There have been so many dogs and pets dumped at Shelby Farms, and HSMSC takes those dogs and cats to MAS. Also, if an animal is deemed not fit to cure, those animals are put to sleep. Also, animals left at the front doors are also either taken to MAS or put down, because there is no way to get accurate paperwork. It is a fact, and the US Humane SOciety is guilty of this as well. They just are not the same since some employees left. It is a I don’t care attitude, and one of you are interrupting my time. It is not what is used to be. I am sorry, but it is the truth. They are NOT a 100% no kill shelter.

    2. Grace—open your eyes and ears. This is not made up. Someone close to me (on the inside) has been very upset over what has been happening there since they brought in ‘Whitney’ to manage it. She is the worst possible thing to happen to these dogs. If they are not puppies, which everyone knows are easier to place, she really has no concern, time or humanity for. To say it is ‘better than’ is worth just as much as it sounds like. You could have said, ‘not as bad as’ and come out sounding exactly the same way. Volunteers were made to sign a paper that they would not speak to the press, media, etc…a gag order. If they were truly on the up and up why would they need that. Pressure needs to be put upon the board of directors and manager. Either live up to your name or change it.

      1. Teresa, I am saddened that you’ve asked THREE times for people to get back to you for a reporter to interview them, and the resounding silence is pretty pathetic. I am sorry that asking people who have direct experience with this ‘shelter’ and what it has and is doing to talk to a reporter gets you nowhere.

      2. Please please PLEASE someone in that area — have the courage to speak up and help these animals!! NOTHING will change EVER if this does not happen. I would do it in a heartbeat if I lived in that area and knew something first-hand. Change begins with those who are there and are willing to step up. Those afraid of a backlash should not be. It is illegal to ban taxpayers from a government building . Good grief!! FIGHT BACK for the animals!!

    3. Grace, I KNOW this is true because I lived that nightmare. They are dedicated to high profile saves and many of the programs are wonderful. However, Alexis is choosing euthanasia over rescue/adoption/sanctuary. Whitney Jones does the “assessments” on Monday morning while the shelter is closed and those dogs who don’t pass are put to sleep. There is apparently no accountability for who is chosen. I have been threatened and bullied to be quiet, even while I was telling the news “no comment, because I believe in the programs at the shelter”. Alexis ordered me to remove ALL pictures from my FB because they violate the media policy. (EVERY volunteer and staff member have pics of dogs on their pages- but mine were of the soon to be dead dog.) Believe me when I tell you that Alexis is not the same once her authority is questioned. Dogs just disappear from the ready kennels and volunteers have been told not to ask why! My question is WHY NOT? I was living in a fairy tale with the shelter, but the true colors were all too clear when we tried to save Truffles.

      1. It is sad that anyone is threatened on the job, especially a volunteer. These people have the power to decide what animals live and which ones do not. This is so wrong on so many levels. No, HSMSC is not what it once was. Yes, they have some very good programs, but the killings overshadow the programs and do not shed a positive light on the HSMSC. Their dealings with MAS is also another dark spot on their record of saving animals. It’s the power that these people want, and the result is not caring for the animals’ welfare.

  8. you can’t possibly wonder “if it’s true” when the rescuer of one of the dogs is posting that this happened to her. Just like it was said before – HS giving no response is response in itself.


  9. I want to clarify some information about the Anakin’s Buddies program. There have apparently been changes made to the program over time. At the outset, the adoption fee was not paid by the sponsor until *after* the pet was adopted. That policy reportedly changed and started to *sometimes* be collected in advance which then morphed into *regularly* collected in advance. The information I received is about dogs being killed under the current incarnation of the program – with their adoption fees having been paid in advance and then the dogs ended up being killed.

    1. As an aside…how reliable is The Examiner? In my experience it is more of a blog masquerading as a news source. Articles I’ve read on that site have been just plain inaccurate. I’m not sure what sort of fact checking goes on there, but I always take it with a grain of salt.

      98% of the material might be accurate, and those articles you just linked us to might be as well, but I’ve come away very cynical about the site.

    1. GREAT NEWS!! The public cannot demand change if they don’t know what’s happening. I hope someone here posts the link for those of us out of state.

  10. The people I’ve spoken with are afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation by the shelter management. This is not a municipal shelter but a private one. I posted the following as my status on the blog’s Facebook page today, not only for those involved with this shelter but for all those – and there are many, all over the country – who keep silent out of fear:

    One of the worst forms of cruelty inflicted on compassionate shelter volunteers and staff who are committed to saving the lives of pets is fear of retaliation by the management if they tell the truth publicly. This fear comes in many forms – fear of being sued, fear of losing one’s job or volunteer position, fear of having foster pets taken away, fear of favorite shelter pets being killed, etc. It’s a difficult situation and I truly feel for those who are bullied in this manner.

    My hope is that someone in this awful situation will empower themselves to stand up and say, “I will no longer be bullied into remaining silent about the needless killing of pets at this shelter.” Take the power of fear away from the management and put that power to use for the benefit of the pets at the shelter. Someone, be a hero today. Let me know if you need support. There are more of us than there are of them. I’ll stand by you.

    1. yup.. I was chatting with a woman on FB that volunteered at Mas but was terrified that her own personal animals would be taken if she spoke up..

    1. Just watched the story, It was only about one dog – Truffles. The reporter tried to find out, multiple times, what the deal was from the HS and if Truffles was still alive. The HS wouldn’t speak to her. Thank you to animal activist Elizabeth Bower for speaking on camera to advocate for Truffles’ right to live.

      1. The only person interviewed was an animal activist – Elizabeth Bower. The reporter said the director would not speak with her.

  11. This is all true! They put them all down. I’ve personally taken every single one of those dogs out to play several times and not once did any of them sow any type of aggression. Whitney and Alexis are anit-pitbull. They are looking for any and all reasons to put down every pitbull in the shelter. They alre also trying to put down any dog that has been there too long because Alexis wants better adoption numbers. It’s horrible.

    1. I had heard both Truffles and Joy were killed on Tuesday but since I didn’t have confirmation, I didn’t post. I’m sorry to learn it’s true. The only things the HS is posting on FB is a bunch of yay-adoption pix, as if that’s what’s going on there, not killing dogs left and right.

  12. Denise, I’m glad you stepped forward, but please note the dates on the other messages. Mine were written days before your response, hence my urgent plea for someone to become involved.

    1. That’s okay. I’m not on every day. I did go ahead and email George Brown from Channel 3 and let him know what I know. If he wants further information, I gave it to him. He may contact me and he may not, but I did go ahead and let him know how they operate under “secrecy”. We will see what happens.

      1. Thank you again for doing this! I know many here feel the same. I’m not in the state, but I’m in a state which needs definite change in shelter laws also…..and I hope to work with some others in rescue to get some laws passed. Seems that’s the only other thing which will force shelter directors to work their hardest to get animals adopted and turn the killing back into true euthanasia for those terminally suffering and in pain without hope of recovery. We have a long way to go to get there. Bless you again!

      2. I did hear back from Mr. Brown at Channel 3. He is going to take it to the newsroom and maybe report again. I will let you know.

  13. I realized after I red some of the other imbedded links that these 2013 comments originated from the first article — seems Memphis just can’t get it right!

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