The pet killing facility operated by the city of Memphis is one of the most notorious in the country, primarily known for stuffed shirts mouthing platitudes about success and excellence while city employees torture and starve animals to death. Lest anyone think Memphis Animal Services has been falling down on the job lately, Exhibit A:
A pit bull was wrongfully euthanized by Memphis Animal Services after being adopted.
Oops. The dog, Josie, was rescued by a local group who completed her paperwork after the next day’s kill list had already been made up and Josie had apparently already been moved to the holding area for the kill room. Her status was changed from KILL to RESCUED in the computer and a cage card of a different color, which apparently indicates DO NOT KILL, was placed on her cage. But when the kill techs came in the next morning, they went straight to work killing every animal on the previous day’s list, including Josie.
Chief Excuses Officer James Rogers issued the following statement in response. This would be a good time to grab a barf bag and have it handy:
I regret to inform you that “Josie” Female Pit Bull, ID # 263120 was accidentally euthanized due to human error. This unfortunate accident provided an opportunity for us to review our processes and take immediate steps to lessen the likelihood of this happening again.
While MSA has made tremendous progress, our processes and procedures continue to evolve as we strive for excellence in our efforts to care for and preserve for adoptions as many pets as we can.
Our research into this incident shows that the ER list was created and duly signed by MAS management personnel on Tuesday, 2/11 at approximately 3:00 p.m. for Wednesday morning ER. The dog was in ER Holding. The pet was adopted at 4:38 PM on Tuesday evening by Bailey’s Arm rescue. Notes were put in the system that the pet was adopted and a green card generated to indicate adoption with all appropriate information and documentation placed in cage card holder.
The dog remained in ER Holding overnight with updated card. On Wednesday morning ER began using the approved ER list created at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, 2/11. Unfortunately, CAETS failed to inquire about the pet, which had obviously been adopted according to chameleon data and the highly visible green card on the cage.
I have addressed the issue with management and staff and instituted the following changes:
1) The ER list will be created the “morning of” the ER process with appropriate signatures from management.
2) All pets will be moved from ER to another holding when adopted.
3) Because CAETs are the last chance to ensure animals are not euthanized in error. All notes should be read, cards matched and the two (CAETs serving as the injector and holder) agree on the facts.
MAS has made tremendous strides in every aspect of the operation and we remain steadfast in our effort to make adjustments in our processes, and we will continue to work with rescue organizations such as Bailey’s Arms to find new homes for pets in our care.
– James Rogers, Administrator, Memphis Animal Services
I note there is no mention of disciplinary action against the kill techs who ignored the DO NOT KILL colored card on Josie’s cage and killed her anyway.
The most astonishing revelation to my mind though is that MAS kill techs have been killing animals without reading the notes made on the animals. So if those notes say something like, “Seven people are trying to adopt this dog” or the slightly more direct, “Step away from this adopted pet you sadist”, the kill techs have never known it because MAS kill techs haven’t been reading the notes. Nobody WANTS to kill animals, and MAS is totally awesome and they kill most every animal in their facility year after year but they have never bothered to read the notes on the animals they kill. Because strive for excellence.
Josie was not killed due to human error. Josie was killed because there is a long standing culture of abuse at MAS where killing is the standard. The pound has always functioned primarily as a pet killing facility and any pets who make it out alive do so despite the efforts of staff to kill them. The kill techs at MAS get paid extra to kill animals. Their incentive is to kill Josie, not to look at her card indicating she’s been rescued and certainly not to read her notes that in effect say “Do not get your bonus pay on this one”. Until a group of advocates is willing to publicly stand up and demand reform, for as long as it takes to get it, the culture of killing will remain at MAS. And there will continue to be mountains of Josies sent to the landfill daily by MAS.
(Thanks No Kill Brevard and Clarice for sending me this story.)