MAS Oops-Kills Rescued Dog

Josie, oops-killed by Memphis pound
Josie, oops-killed by Memphis pound

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.)

19 thoughts on “MAS Oops-Kills Rescued Dog

  1. Don’t know what’s worse – poor Josie and the people who were adopting her or the bullshit that came out of Roger’s mouth. Pure PR – oh, Josie and all the others are not EUTHANIZED – they are KILLED. Maybe that would be a good place to start. Let’s call it what it is. MAS does not euthanize animals, it’s a killing facility and, I’m afraid, there will continue to be more Josies.

    RIP Josie, you deserved so much better. You will never again know the cruelty of humans.

  2. Maybe they don’t read the notes because they can’t read or have very limited reading comprehension. Is the ability to read a job requirement? Is Mr. Rogers still interim director or was he made permanent? The mayor needs to go and take Rogers with him. I hope those involved will be fired, but I won’t hold my breath.

  3. WHAT is WRONG with these people . . . perhaps missing a heart, or a brain or basic humanity? KEEP THESE PEOPLE AWAY FROM INNOCENT HELPLESS ANIMALS!!!!

  4. Don’t you think it is about time the MAS be closed, permanently? Why should they be given more money to kill than adopt. Should be the other way around, for sure.

  5. Yep, the serial killing of animals then extends to euthanasia of citizens as it did in Germany in the ’30’s, and into the ’40’s even though it was supposed to have stopped:

    Also another interesting post on another blog at

    regarding the illegal taking of peoples animals that are than “flipped” after they are taken by private citizens posing as “rescues”:

  6. OK…they can’t even spot the color coding on the cards because they don’t even glance at the paper work, so we have to remove all of the don’t-kill-today animals from the room to further simplify it for the assembly-line style of killing that MAS does…which will, of course, continue to encourage the workers to not even look at the paper work since every animal in the room is FUR SHUR a “kill-today” animal, right?

    MAS, working towards the lowest common denominator and showing it.

  7. Josie provided an opportunity? Josie? Like she’s the only animal OOPS KILLED by MAS? MAS has MANY MANY “opportunities” to make changes. But as Shirley said “killing” is their default setting, not saving. And I have the same question as Clarice – is Rogers still the interim or is he now the full fledged kill master at MAS?

  8. Just as with horse slaughter and the low paid workers in slaughterhouses who often are not very educated, and some are sociopaths that enjoy killing “things” (whether animals or people), many that work in “shelters” are also sociopaths who can not get away with torturing and killing other people (yet) so they get paid to kill animals instead under the guise of “humane” euthanasia.
    THAT is a reason why they don’t read cards on kennels, look at color coding, read instructions, etc; because they don’t care, they are apathetic, disassociated, de-sensitized to killing, or some/many(?) actually look forward to killing because they are sick, but pose as “normal” people who are amongst us in society.

  9. How many times do these idiots get to “review our processes and take immediate steps to lessen the likelihood of this happening again”? How many times has something like this “happened again?” – let me count the ways. Apparently the killing techs are not only illiterate, but color blind as well. The situation at MAS continues to be reprehensible!!!

  10. Are the techs given reading tests before hired for the job? I am the one who adopted the two pits on Wednesday. I paid the fees myself for a local rescue group. I was devastated when a friend gave me the news of Josie’s untimely death on Thursday morning. But to be honest, I can’t say that I was shocked. This is a very common occurrence at Memphis Animal Services. Rest in peace, sweet Josie. We came oh so close to getting you to a safe place. I’m so sorry that you never will have the chance to feel the warm sun on your back or run freely and experience the love of a real forever family. We will work harder and with even more determination to save those who come after you. One day I pray that the needless killings will stop, and that all adoptable dogs will be given enough time to find good homes so we don’t have to ship them all up North where we know they will be loved and treated with respect.

    1. Oh, if only “up North” were a safe haven for animals, you could ship them ALL here with my blessing. Sadly, dogs and cats in shelters are not safe here, either.

  11. I am so beyond sick of this place. I’m so infuriated, but what else can we do???

    We protest, we send emails, we call, write letters. And when that doesn’t work, we play nice. Then when that doesn’t work, we protest and get angry again. NOTHING EVER CHANGES.

    It is so frustrating. Until we get a new mayor, a new director, new employees, nothing will change, I’m afraid.

    1. Probably won’t until people organize locally. Letters, emails and phone calls are easy to ignore, especially when they come from non-locals. My understanding is that the culture of corruption runs very deep in Memphis. Too bad, I’m sure there are a lot of great people there.

  12. Thank you for keeping on this, as hard as it is. I applaud all the people still fighting this shelter. Change is needed.

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