Animal Abuser on Trial is the Same Darling Beloved by the City of Memphis

Remember when former MAS employees Archie Elliott and Billy Stewart were caught beating two Pitbulls with steel poles after the dogs had been allowed – negligently or intentionally – to get into a fight? Remember how the city of Memphis was so excited to defend the cruelty that they issued a press release and invited the press in to watch the security camera footage? Good times.

I can’t help but reflect on this now that Archie Elliott has pleaded guilty to torturing animals at MAS and Billy Stewart is on trial this week for aggravated animal cruelty:

[Undercover Memphis police officer Daniel] Arrington testified he saw defendant Billy Stewart choke dogs into unconsciousness on five occasions by tightening the rope on a metal catch pole when more humane methods of control were available as the dogs were led into the euthanasia room.

“His words to me were ‘This is how you do it,’” Arrington testified, showing the Criminal Court jurors a five-foot metal catch pole with an adjustable noose on one end. “He said sometimes you have to choke them out.”

Arrington described how the animals dropped to the floor, some yelping and gasping for air for several minutes until another technician injected them with a lethal solution called Fatal Plus without first administering sedation.

“He’d say ‘Come on, hit this one. Nobody needs to see this,” Arrington told prosecutor Katie Ratton. “He just pulled the rope tighter. Billy Stewart said it was the quickest, easiest way.”

There is a certain sense of entitlement and empowerment evident here.  An animal abuser who knows the city of Memphis has his back.  Come on, hit this one.  I get away with this all the time.  Nobody will say anything.  And even if I get caught, the city will defend my actions, just like always.

In fact, Billy Stewart’s attorney emphasized the city’s failure of leadership in his client’s defense while denying that the hanging of dogs on chokepoles qualifies as cruelty:

Stewart’s lawyer says the former worker didn’t commit animal cruelty. Instead, he pointed fingers at the city, saying the shelter has been troubled for years.

It’s true MAS is an epic fail. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Billy Stewart tortured dogs and cats there.

Billy Stewart, a former worker at MAS, hangs a cat in tongs prior to killing while a co-worker looks on.
Billy Stewart, a former worker at MAS, hangs a cat in tongs prior to killing while a co-worker looks on.

The city of Memphis defended Billy Stewart’s animal cruelty at the time it was happening.  Over and over.  The city dismissed animal advocates who raised valid concerns over his documented abuse of animals.  Some of those who worked with him and witnessed the suffering he inflicted upon dogs and cats still work at the pound.  And the city still defends the killing of healthy/treatable animals.  In fact, they’d like some sort of award please:

“We provide excellent services,” said [interim director James] Rogers.  “I would like for that to be recognized.”

MAS killed 62% of the pets in its care in the first four months of 2013.  James Rogers, you may pick up your golden Fatal Plus trophy at the landfill, amidst the mountain of dead animals you’ve sent there.

I will post additional developments in the trial of Billy Stewart as warranted.

34 thoughts on “Animal Abuser on Trial is the Same Darling Beloved by the City of Memphis

  1. Sick sick sick bastards. My question is why dud the undercover officer have to stand by and witness him choke FIVE dogs???!!! Was one not enough to convict him for animal abuse?? WTF?!

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. IDK the answer to that but having a guess, perhaps the district attorney was directing how many animals he had to witness being tortured before she believed she had a rock solid case. DAs are known for only pursuing easily winnable cases. If it had been me in there, I couldn’t have witnessed the abuse of one animal without intervening. But then, I couldn’t work in the kill room at MAS since I will not hurt shelter pets nor will I stand idly by while someone else does it and killing is the ultimate form of violence.

  2. Funny how everyone at the shelter knew this was going on regularly, but it took an undercover police officer to bring any sort of action. And the question stands, “Why are the people who knew and did nothing STILL working there today?”

  3. Thank you for keeping this story alive. I, along with so many other people captured thousands of screen grabs of abuse by these two men. Why aren’t they both in jail? Why hasn’t the torture been stopped? I want the cameras put back on live feed! I want the torture/killing to stop…

    1. Dot, you’re right. The lack of live feed is very concerning. Does abuse continue? Well, the same people are there, the leadership is lacking, and life saving is still not a priority. So…yeah.

  4. I think I have heard it all and then that cesspool that is MAS shows up again. Surely there are some good people of Memphis, but why does this go on and on? How can anyone watch that happening and not stop it? I just don’t understand that. And my heart breaks at the pain and suffering of those animals ~ both in the past and present, for I’m sure that this kind of thing continues to happen on a daily basis.
    What will it take to stop this? MEMPHIS! Wharton? Is this what you want people to think of when they think of your city? I wouldn’t visit Memphis if someone gave me an all expense paid trip there.

  5. I have sent numerous emails to the mayor of Memphis, only to be ignored. In my opinion they all need to be in jail. Those for the actions and those for condoning it. This includes current employees of the shelter. This place is a concentration Camp for animals.

  6. I’m sure a lot of people has written Mayor Wharton about the continual abuse at MAS, but he is just as much of the problem as MAS employees. He has known of the incompetent employees torturing animals since taking office, but do you think he cares? Obviously not. We are just a tiny thorn in his butt with our complaining, but not enough of a problem for him to actually make positive changes at MAS.

    I believe with the first mention of MAS in his emails, they probably get immediately deleted. We are not his voting fans as compared to the majority of Memphians who don’t give a damn about dogs & cats like him.

    1. Agreed – I’ve sent emails, letters by snail mail and made phone calls to Wharton and many others.
      No response tells me they simply do not care.
      Where are the good citizens of Memphis who will stand up for these precious animals?
      Anyone who knows what is going on, chooses to look the other way, and/or excuse it (not really animal cruelty? really?) deserves to be punished as much as those actually doing the abusing.
      What kind of sick being gets off on treating another living being like this?

  7. On some days billy was charged for n they say seen him do it he wasn’t even present… U can’t go by what the press release n what the webcam pic capture. If a agressive dog is pulling away choking there self putting there weight down then the pole want release off the animal. Ain’t nobody bout to risk there Health with the sickness off the animal by reaching down to try to help the aggressive animal. Pics can look another way but can b a whole another story with it. So don’t judge him. N if they had a video on the so call dog fights then where is the 5 diff videos at of him choking the dogs…

    1. We can’t go by what we see with our own eyes? How’d that work out as a defense in court? At any rate, no video of Stewart torturing dogs in the kill room b/c MAS refuses to put a camera there – since obviously.

  8. It’s a rabies pole, and it is a great way to walk aggressive or hard to control dogs, but it is not supposed to be used to kill, harm or do anything else malicious.

  9. I have been in this same type of scenerio with 2 family dogs. Both pits that went after each other. 3 of us could not seperate them, including one person who had about 50 stitichs to the arm and a few to her hand. We had to no way t seperate the dogs short of killing them, we had to hit the dog that was the aggressor in order to keep him from killing the other dog. Ad believe me, 1 or 2 hits did nothing, we had to do more. We did not want to do it, but this dog would have killed one of us. Sadly, the owners had him put down, but after the attack, he became worse. I am not saying it is the right thing to do, but in some cases, beating a dog is better then losing a life.

    1. This situation I have seen more than once. This is why I recommend anyone dealing with Pitts to have a Taser on hand as it is the only thing that will bring a dog fight to an immediate halt like nothing else will. But only if it is never used on dogs for any other reason but to break up a fight.

      1. One should understand the nature of dogs before recommending handling methods or punishment. If those two dogs had known aggression issues, then why take them out together? Like my husband often says, “You’ve got to be smarter than the dog.”

        ezbuddy, you said “This is why I recommend anyone dealing with Pitts [sic] to have a Taser on hand…” WTF?? Pit Bulls are NOT by nature dangerous dogs! Years ago it was Dobermans and German Shepherds that were considered “dangerous.” Now it’s Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. ANY dog, from the tiniest Chihuahua to a big, slobbery St. Bernard, if not properly trained and if mistreated MAY lash out/attack. But even the worst cases of abuse, a good number of those dogs STILL do not lash out/attack. Of those that do attack “unprovoked,” I would bet my last dollar that they were in some way provoked. Dogs attack to protect themselves and their family. Hit a dog with a pole, and it may lunge at you to protect itself. Attack the owner, and the dog may bite you. Abuse a dog long enough and it will become fearful and act inappropriately in seemingly unthreatening situations.

        How do I know this? Besides other breeds, I have had Dobermans, a German Shepherd and a St. Bernard growing up. Even so, I used to believe all the media hype about pit bulls, too. It wasn’t until I unknowingly adopted a pit bull that I learned about their true nature. (I say unknowingly because his info said he was an American Staffordshire, and I didn’t know that was a pit.) It would have been his last day on Earth, because he had been at the pound too long and they needed room. Of all the dogs at the adoption fair that day, he was the only one not barking – he was just calm and friendly. We didn’t exactly commit to taking him right at that moment, but instead said we’d be back at the end and if no one adopted him, we’d take him. We didn’t think we were a good option because we already had two small dogs, three\cats and a very small yard. Immediately the staff removed his card and no one else had the opportunity to adopt him.

        For the next few hours, one of the staff members at the pet store where the adoption fair was being held had Bo (a name we threw out on a whim, but it stuck) on a leash with her and she let him socialize with people and dogs coming into the store. Once home, he was aggressive around food. I was scared, because I had two little girls, and I feared we had made a bad decision. We responded poorly to his aggression. (Punished him, used a spray bottle, isolated him, and even used a broom to try to “teach” him.) Once we realized we were doing it all wrong and changed our methods, he became a great dog. He learned to trust us and we learned to trust him. The trust grew and his aggression subsided. It was really that simple. He was still very strong, and we were smart about keeping him under control until he was comfortable in new environments. He never showed any aggression toward our other two dogs-a Silky Terrier and a Lhasa Apso, and my girls were very safe in his presence. In fact, our Silky ended up being the alpha of the household, even though she was the smallest, oldest, and most mellow of the three!

        Over time, we lost the Silky and two of the cats. We adopted a Yorkie puppy, who would jump on Old Bo and annoy him. He simply nudged her away. Or, if she couldn’t take a hint, he would bark at her. He never hurt her. A year later, we adopted a Chihuahua, and shortly thereafter, a kitten. Same thing. Even though Bo was old and had arthritis, the worst he would do was to grumble at the puppies if they became too playful. When the day finally came that he could no longer walk without extreme pain, we took him to our vet. The staff there cried along with us, knowing the long road we had been on with Bo-that we had saved his life and that Bo had taught us so much about dogs. My husband *still* tears up when we talk about Bo.

        NEVER in a million years would I have considered using a taser! OMG! How is that not cruel? I can see the meme now, a dog cowering back with the thought bubble above that reads, “Don’t taze me, bro!”

      2. Congratulations, DoggyMomma, you saved a good dog. But you obviously haven’t seen Pitts grab hold of something and not let go. You obviously haven’t seen perfectly treated and good behavior Pitts suddenly attach themselves to housemates or other animals – attached to their jaws. I have seen this, time & time again and the only thing that immediately breaks the attachment & aggression is a Taser.

        I also said in my comment, Tasers are not to be used for ANY other reason. It is much more cruel for people to have to beat the Pitt to death with a stick, that doesn’t always make them turn loose, than an electrical shock that only straightens out that aggression without any brusing or broken bones from beating… which I don’t recommend, which will also continue bad behavior.

        As your Pitt aged, as with most older dogs, they naturally become docile. Don’t think for a moment Pitts won’t attach themselves, unlike other dogs, to anything they become inclined to do so. And I do love them as you do and as much as any other dog, but I only suggest Tasers for the dogs own good. (and the responsible party)

  10. What I said was a picture can tell so many stories every body might look at the picture diff. Just like everybody thought he was dog fighting til u hear the true story to it.there Spose to b cameras everywhere. All suddenly they have one in the killa room. That’s a lie. Then there was no training with the control pole. A manual is not enough. Reading form the manual is go b a whole another ball ge when action is took place.all this was an inside job. Racism was also took place.

    1. He DID allow two dogs to fight. Whether he did it intentionally or negligently can be debated. But he allowed it, plain as day. And I never cared for how sneaky he looks on the video before he takes the dogs out, peeking around corners, as if he is making sure no one is watching. The testimony of the undercover cop confirms that was his MO – make sure no one was watching and then unleash the cruelty.

      If you comment again, you need to use your real name.

    2. Bullshit. He was abusing animals because he enjoyed it. He liked the power, he liked instilling fear and pain. He is a monster.

  11. Sorry, but there is no excuse for what this man did to those animals. There was no misunderstanding, no racism, nothing but the torture and killing and abuse. This person has no compassion for the animals he was supposed to care for. He belongs in prison! Until we stop making excuses, or crying “racism” these acts of violence and cruelty will continue.

  12. This is nothing but racism if it was a white person in the video then y’all will be streaming mistake happens but there is a black man in it so y’all streaming it don’t matter it was a mistake or not. Y’all need to release every thing on here… Y’all just trying to make the outsiders looking in think dif… Them two dogs come form the same home so dats y they was tookin out together… Release every thing… Lets talk about the five dates not this dog Spose to b fight… Now is it true that the undercover said he seen the him choke a dog out on a date that the undercover was not on the log or at work… Unless its cameras n the killa room how can he c such thing

    1. MrsKnoit, The man is was convicted because he is guilty. Makes no difference if he is black, white or purple. There is no racism. Oh and use spell check next time because its clear you cannot form a proper sentence.

    2. Mrsknoit: Can you point out what was racist thing done to anyone involved? What is racist about anything done or said there or here.

      Are you defending his actions towards dogs/cats in his care?

      If it’s anything, it’s species-ist, for the mistreatment & torture he did to another species, as if he has some grudge against beings of a different species.

  13. He needs to be locked up and the key thrown away. There is no racism involved, just plain cruelty. Make him pay.

  14. Of course they’re going to defend them until the time they’re prosecuted! Just like a police chief is going to defend his officers until the court of law proves them guilty as all partment heads know they’re guilty from the git-go. (Even Wal-Mart, and others, they all defend themselves until it’s proved in court otherwise…admission on their own is guilt…have to wait to prove that to them in court and then what do they say? Some lame-a** exuse tossing bla
    me wherever they can and however they can find to do so…)

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