After much public outcry, Memphis Animal Services has announced it will again allow Memphis Pets Alive and other rescuers to photograph pets in the healthy hold area before their review dates expire. Photographs of the cage cards will again be allowed as well. The statement from the city, which can be read in full here, is hardly anything to celebrate. Although MAS staff is again allowing members of the public to do their jobs for them, as they were before, there are new restrictions in place which appear to be at least cruel and at worst, illegal.
MAS now stipulates that rescuers will be allowed just the first two business days of the mandatory three day holding period to save animals from the kill room. Obviously MAS wants to protect its staff from the annoyance of dealing with e-mails and phone calls from rescuers wanting to save animals on their kill day. Once the first two days of the holding period have passed, MAS staff has the green light to kill the animal – no need to even check if there is an owner standing in the lobby holding a leash and collar I guess.
The city’s statement also attempts to restrict the First Amendment rights of anyone using the photos:
Photos taken of animals housed at the facility are not to be used in any negative campaign or propaganda against Memphis Animal Services.
MAS is primarily a pet killing facility. If city officials are worried about American citizens truthfully saying so in public, they need to find jobs outside the U.S. Speech is protected in this country and anyone who wants to express that MAS is wrong to kill animals, that the staff doesn’t do their jobs, or any other “negative” opinion about MAS is free to do so.
Finally, I think it’s important to restate something that has long been true at MAS, even before the current administration began its shenanigans: No member of the public has had access to every animal in the facility, including those in the so-called stray areas, in years. MAS continues to impound pets, hide them in areas deemed off-limits to the public, then take them to the kill room after 3 days with no one ever knowing they were there. The reversal of the photo ban does not change that.
Pardon me if I find little worth celebrating in the draconian measures being employed by MAS to continue its needless dog and cat killing spree. And I’ll be saying so. Still. More.