MAS Moves to Increase “Time and Space” Killings with Photo Ban

Memphis Animal Services (MAS) is a pet killing facility which has long cited “time and space” as its primary reason for killing dogs and cats.  In order to counter the alleged time and space issues at MAS, a group called Memphis Pets Alive has been photographing pets at the pound weekly, sharing them on Facebook.  In this way, owners looking for lost pets have an opportunity to see clear photos on an easily navigable and popular website – a service the pound does not provide.  In addition, rescuers and potential adopters can see the pets currently at the pound and begin making arrangements to get the pets out alive once the holding period expires, a date which Memphis Pets Alive notes on its posts.

The marketing of pets immediately upon impound is an important tool used by shelters wishing to increase their return-to-owner and overall live release rates as well as reducing their average length of stay.  MAS does not market pets upon impound, selectively choosing to photograph only some pets, using seemingly arbitrary criteria, and list them on a user-unfriendly website not designed for the public to navigate.  But Memphis Pets Alive has helped bridge the gap by photographing pets every week and sharing them on Facebook.

This week however, Memphis Pets Alive was informed by pound director James Rogers that they would no longer be allowed to photograph pets who are still within their mandatory holding period.  The “review date”, as MAS terms it on its cage cards, must be met before anyone is allowed to photograph the pets.

The Tiny Problem with That:  MAS typically kills pets the day of, or the morning after, their so-called review date.  Review is MAS-speak for Kill.  Some examples of pets who have been killed by MAS on, or within hours of, their review date:

  • Beauty and Rocko – two young, healthy dogs whose owner wanted them back.
  • Two owned dogs who were supposed to be quarantined at MAS for 10 days but who were killed after 72 hours because “review date”.
  • 3 year old mixed breed dog who was impounded after the owner fell behind on utility bills and killed by MAS on her review date.

In addition, the following pets listed on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page are just some who were recently listed as having been killed on their review date:

Dog #265867 at the Memphis pound, listed as killed on his review date.

Dog #265867 at the Memphis pound, listed as killed on his review date.  [Photo by Memphis Pets Alive]

Tragically, these dead pets are the “lucky” ones, in terms of MAS killing, since they were allowed to live until their review date.  MAS also kills pets before their review date.  Nola, a lost dog whose owner went to MAS trying to find her, was killed before her review date.  And pets who are owner surrendered do not get the “benefit” of a review date at all.  MAS often kills them upon impound.

Needless to say, shelter pet advocates raised hell about the photo ban.  After all, MAS is still killing pets for “time and space” but now actively blocking efforts by advocates to reduce the supposed time and space burdens placed upon the $7 million pet killing facility.  The city posted a response on its website which explains that the reason for the dick move ban is because MAS doesn’t want a potential adopter to see a pet’s photograph on Facebook and mistakenly believe the animal is immediately available for adoption.  Because MAS cares, really, so much:

MAS views the emotional trauma of such an unfortunate misunderstanding too great a risk[…]

I wonder how much of an emotional trauma it is to have your pet killed by MAS because of “time and space”, such as has happened to so many Memphis pet owners.  But I guess Memphis is all full up on caring.  The city can’t possibly care one iota more.  It’s too great a risk to consider more caring.  So please everyone, stop bothering MAS about its enormous level of caring.  Just leave it alone and quit bringing up how hugely much MAS cares.  Because the caring, it’s bulging and gigantic.  And space is an issue.

(Thanks Arlene for sending me info on this story.)

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33 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  May 15, 2014

    Then I propose the public be permitted to take photos of EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL on their review date – living or dead and post them.

    That way they’ll be no confusion about shelter procedures. It will all be very clear.

    Reply
  2. How horrible. At least the public can find out which pets are killed by those oh-so-caring-shelter workers. At the New Braunfels Humane Society, which operates the high-kill city shelter in New Braunfels, Texas, the staff WILL NOT RELEASE INFORMATION ABOUT WHICH PETS THEY KILL OR WHY. And yes, they are funded by tax dollars with a sweet 10-YEAR contract, so taxpayers can pay for their brand new animal shelter :(

    But we can’t find out which pets are at the shelter…that’s a secret so that “people can’t try to claim pets that aren’t theirs”. That kind of secrecy works well to shield the shelter from accountability. But it’s NOT in the best interests of citizens or pets at the shelter.

    Reply
  3. Kelli Chisholm

     /  May 15, 2014

    I’ll never understand how blocking MPA from taking pics of pets BEFORE their review date makes any sense. We need DAYS to network these babies. Not 2 hrs. Its outrageous. The truth is they punish the rescue community every time there is a protest. The animals are the ones that suffer so the rescue community fights harder to draw attn to these ridiculous “rules” and then they tighten the policies even moreso. WHY in the hell would a shelter cripple the efforts of people trying to help? Why???

    Reply
  4. Chris Huff

     /  May 15, 2014

    So where is the petition to the Mayor, County Administrators, State Senators and Reps.? Change only happens if it is DEMANDED!! One thing they understand is VOTES!!! Make this an ISSUE and something will be done!!!!

    Reply
    • We just had city elections in New Braunfels, so we have been holding off on that so contact info would be current. The new mayor and 2 new council people are taking office on May 27. As soon as they publish contact info for them, the petition will be started.

      Reply
    • lauren

       /  May 15, 2014

      they will not care if one is started…. i think a lot of the officials here are involved in the “dog-fighting” as well…

      Reply
    • Concerned citizens have been encouraged to send emails to Mayor Wharton and many have – Unfortunately, MAS is not required to adopt out one single animal.

      Reply
  5. Tonka

     /  May 15, 2014

    I went on the Pets Alive facebook page and copied a form letter, added my own comments and emailed to city leaders. They should know that more people than just Memphis citizens are aware of their crappy policies. I told them that I was a frequent visitor to their city and would reconsider where I choose to visit and spend money if they continue with such policies. My one letter might not make a difference, but a few thousand might. Voting with $$ seems to be all that these leaders understand.

    Reply
    • I copied the contact info and sample letter from the Memphis Pets Alive! Facebook page:

      james.rogers@memphistn.gov
      Lasonya.hall@memphistn.gov
      Janet.hooks@memphistn.gov
      Ac.wharton@memphistn.gov

      To whom it may concern:
      I recently learned of Memphis Animal Services’ new policy that disallows Memphis Pets Alive to photograph shelter animals who are not at or past their review dates. I am very unhappy about this policy as it will prevent many animals from being seen or networked in online communities. Social media has become a major way to help more animals to positive outcomes. I am truly confused as to why this “policy” was enacted.

      As a city leader, I would like to think that you are also focused on positive outcomes for the shelter animals. Memphis will not benefit from more negative publicity and the previous shelter history is detriment to our city. I hope you will reconsider this policy and allow Memphis Pets Alive and other groups to continue to make a positive impact upon not only Memphis Animal Services but also the city of Memphis.

      Reply
      • db

         /  May 15, 2014

        This is yet another act by the officials of Memphis and MAS to let you know that they will do as they damn well please. They really don’t care about the animals or the people who work hard to help them. They simply do not care and anything short of a complete change of administration will not be effective. Bless all those unfortunate animals who find themselves in that hell hole. We’ve been following this kill facility from the time they took the cameras down to present . . . things only get worse and worse. And don’t believe that the “friends” of MAS are friendly at all. There seems to be one big power trip going on and the animals end up paying with their lives. I simply do not know, any longer, what will make things happen . . .

  6. I am also contacting Memphis officials regarding their horrible, uncaring policy!

    Reply
    • Please email Mayor Wharton with your concerns – ac.wharton@memphistn.gov

      Reply
      • db

         /  May 15, 2014

        In the past, he has deleted my emails and has not replied. The only responses I’ve gotten were to a real letter and a phone call to his office. In case of the phone call, he had his secretary talk with me. Good luck! Wharton knows what’s going on and seems to be okay with it.

  7. Willie

     /  May 15, 2014

    WHY WHY WHY is it that the places/organizations that are supposed to help animals are the ones most anxious to kill them?????? WHAT IS WRONG HERE?? Obviously, a LOT!!!!!!

    Reply
  8. Toni Mabry

     /  May 15, 2014

    When something doesn’t make sense it is usually about money. How can money be involved in this situation? Simple, pit bulls have a history of disappearing at MAS. We know that they are very valuable and can be sold for illegal purposes. If a rescue group is taking photos then there is a record that the dog was at the shelter and has disappeared. No pictures, no proof of what is happening. BTW, if I recall my history class, photography wasn’t allowed at Auschwitz either.

    Reply
  9. lauren

     /  May 15, 2014

    sent the email.. i live in memphis, tn and they don’t care… i will be the first to say.. even if a petition was started they wouldn’t care or change….

    Reply
  10. Lou Ann

     /  May 15, 2014

    Sent emails. City of Memphis officials could care less – that’s been proven over and over and over again. As long as a pawn (Rogers) deals with the shelter, Wharton and his knuckleheads can easily turn their heads. Only time Wharton is interested is during election/re-election time when he makes false promises to help the shelter.

    Reply
  11. Pammy

     /  May 15, 2014

    Memphis Animal Services has a long standing history of being KILL happy. They do nothing in the community to reduce the pet population by enforcing mandatory spay/neuter laws but seem to be more content to reduce by KILLING. The cost of running a high-kill shelter would be minimized greatly and the death rate would be curbed if in the community they enforced the spay/neuter of all animals belonging to people without a registered kennel license.

    Reply
    • If they enforced the MSN law more, as you suggest, there would be even more killing. Pet owners don’t need punitive legislation, they need access to no and low cost spay-neuter services. MSN is a proven failure, everywhere it’s been tried, including Memphis.

      Reply
  12. mikken

     /  May 15, 2014

    Sounds like a petty, vindictive move to “punish” MPA and anyone else who speaks out against them.

    Memphis won’t change until someone decides to put some grownups in charge, there.

    Reply
  13. Karen B

     /  May 15, 2014

    I live in Memphis and they always give canned answers. They are not held accountable for any of their actions. I heard there are empty cages but that doesn’t stop them from killing. I wish this issue would get local media coverage and a news station would ask some very hard questions. Unfortunately every time a news station picks up a story about MAS and covers it on the news, within a day or two it’s all forgotten. That’s what our city officials hopes will happen here.

    Reply
  14. vida

     /  May 15, 2014

    Heaven forbid someone has a chance to ransom their beloved pet from the slaughterhouse, or adopt one in need of a home. It interrupts the staff in their busy killing schedule, probably throws their quota off as well.
    I am beyond sick and tired of public servants who won’t.
    I am sick of the idea that no one in charge has any accountability to the lowly peasants who put them in office.
    I’m off to take a lot of deep breaths, hug my dogs and try to get my blood pressure back down.

    Reply
  15. Ona

     /  May 15, 2014

    This is so sad. Memphis Pets Alive gave hundreds of animals a chance to leave the shelter alive by providing a community service at no cost to the city. With the help of Memphis Pets Alive, owners were better able to find their pets and adoption rates were increasing. Memphis Pets Alive was able to photograph up to 90 dogs every week (over 60 weeks in a row) and that is only about 1/2 the dogs in the building. They were not allowed to photograph any dogs in the Stray area. The dogs in the Stray area are deemed “not adoptable candidates” even though there is no real basis for that death sentence. Now the number of dogs Memphis Pets Alive is able to photograph will be much less.

    Reply
  16. I suspect they are trying to hide from more possible “oops” killing of owned pets. After all, if the owner doesn’t see them online (and many of them do), there may be less of them making an issue of it.

    But they can’t come out and *say* that, because it makes them look a**holes who rather kill and cover their butts than the caring shelters workers that “don’t want to kill animals”. After all, they promoted that one guy who was part of the animal cruelty investigation and had some very unsavory allegations.

    It’s too bad. Living in low kill communities has taught me that nothing creates a positive community image and support like striving for No-Kill.

    Reply
  17. Memphis is in violation of the law, so why can’t we force them to adhere? No one is that powerful!

    Reply
  18. Linda Daugherty

     /  May 17, 2014

    This is the letter I sent to the governor.
    Mr. Wharton,

    I recently learned of Memphis Animal Services’ new policy that disallows Memphis Pets Alive to photograph shelter animals who are not at or past their review dates. I am very unhappy about this policy as it will prevent many animals from being seen or networked in online communities. Social media has become a major way to help more animals to positive outcomes. I am truly confused as to why this “policy” was enacted.

    As a city leader, I would like to think that you are also focused on positive outcomes for the shelter animals. Memphis will not benefit from more negative publicity and the previous shelter history is detriment to your city. I hope you will reconsider this policy and allow Memphis Pets Alive and other groups to continue to make a positive impact upon not only Memphis Animal Services but also the city of Memphis.

    I and friends, all who are animal rights advocates, visit your city and consider where we spend our money when traveling so will need to reconsider staying in Memphis if this “lack of mindfullness” for animal welfare is going to be the prevailing climate for your city.

    Social media is a powerful tool for doing many things. Exposure of animals in need help is one along with allowing concerned individuals to gather together in support of causes which they feel is wrong. MAC’s decision to not allow Memphis Pets Alive to take timely photos is wrong. In fact, MAC should be moving in the opposite direction; that of becoming a No Kill Shelter and advocating themselves for your animals. This is just the beginning of a tidal wave that could develop if no positive action is taken. We have seen the result of social media action before and it is very powerful not only in addressing the pertinent issue but subsequently exposing many more things that might be going on behind closed doors. What is going on behind the closed doors of MAS? Positive and timely response to this situation is of utmost importance.

    Regards,

    Reply
  19. Ona

     /  May 19, 2014

    The local Memphis paper is taking a poll about being able to photograph the animals before their review date:
    http://www.commercialappeal.com/polls/2014/may/shelter_poll/results/

    Reply
  20. Kittypurr

     /  May 19, 2014

    What Memphis is full of is shit. They shovel some of that out they will have time and space.

    Reply
    • No one at the pound would talk to the reporter. Typical. So proud of what they do that when someone comes knocking – uh, hide.

      Reply
  21. Arlene

     /  May 21, 2014

    It gets worse! They are not allowed to photo the kennel card either! There is no way to tell anyone at MAS what ID number the animal has so they can be identified nor a name if there is one.

    James Rogers has now made it impossible to affectively save any animals there. SHAME ON HIM!

    Reply
  22. Tonka

     /  May 23, 2014

    I received the “canned” response from two of the persons that I emailed. I sent back this response.

    “My response to this policy then is that MAS should NEVER kill an animal until they have been exposed to RESCUE groups for a 72 hour period. If the city of Memphis is concerned about the welfare of animals, they should be making EVERY effort to get these animals to safety, either back to original owners or out to adoption or rescue. There is NO excuse for anything less. The overwhelming negative response to this policy should tell City Officials that the public expects better from you.”

    Reply
    • I am not a lawyer but AFAIK, there is no legal precedent for the banning of photography of certain animals and their cage cards at a public facility. I am not at all clear on what legal standing James Rogers might have to order such a ban. A Memphis attorney is needed to challenge this ban. I expect it would fall apart under judicial scrutiny very quickly.

      Reply

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