Memphis Bans the Public from Giving Treats to Shelter Pets

Memphis Animal Services, which functions primarily as a pet killing facility and does not vaccinate all animals upon intake as per standard shelter best practices, is suddenly concerned that treats given to doomed dogs might compromise their health. As such, the public has been banned from giving out treats at the pound. This email is from La Sonya Harris Hall, Deputy Director of the Division of Parks & Neighborhoods in Memphis:

From: Hall, LaSonya
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2014 8:30 AM
To: Boyd, Bill; Brown, Joe; Cain, Pam; Clark, Dynisha; Collins, Harold; Conrad, Kemp; Flinn, Shea; Ford Jr., Edmund; Fullilove, Janis; Garcia, Rebecca; Geater, Lisa; Halbert, Wanda; Harris, Lee; Hedgepeth, Reid; Hooks, Director Janet; Keplinger, Juaness; Little, George; Lowery, Myron; Milam, Judy; Morrison, Bill; Spears, Danielle; Strickland, Jim; Sullivan, Maura; Turner, Ann; Wordlaw, Sophia
Cc: Little, George; Sullivan, Maura; Hooks, Director Janet; Rogers, James; Coleman, Rebecca
Subject: MAS takes precaution with pet treats

Good Morning Councilmembers:

As a precautionary measure and based on observations by Dr. Rebecca Coleman noted below, Memphis Animal Services has temporarily suspended visitors from providing treats to the animals in our care. We will research this matter over the holidays and develop a plan that will be in the best interest of the pets.

Recently MAS encountered a situation involving several dogs that were vomiting and experiencing diarrhea after they had been fed treats.  The partially eaten treats were found in each dog’s cage that became ill. Unfortunately no one was able to identify who gave the treats.  As there are multiple visitors to the shelter each day, some type of control needs to be in place to ensure that the health of the pets is not compromised.  Not knowing what a pet has been fed adds an element of complexity to treating the pet if complications arise.

Rebecca Coleman, DVM

Veterinary Medical Director

Memphis Animal Services


Thank you for your continued support.

Happy Holidays!

La Sonya Harris Hall, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, Division of Parks & Neighborhoods

125 N. Main Street, Suite 200

Memphis, TN 38103


The most basic thing that could be done to protect the health of the animals at MAS is across the board vaccination upon intake.  That’s not being done.

Most of these animals are going into the dumpster, as fast as MAS can legally (?) put them there. But the city says there’s a risk of harm in the dogs receiving a bit of kindness from the public before being snuffed.

The biggest threat to the health of animals at MAS is Fatal Plus.  It’s got dog cookies beat by a mile.  Can we get a ban on that?

No doubt everyone in this email has been researching this issue over the holidays and is developing a plan to protect the best interests of the pets.  Who are going out the back door in garbage bags by the truckload.

Well done as usual, Memphis.

19 thoughts on “Memphis Bans the Public from Giving Treats to Shelter Pets

  1. Does anyone at MAS have even the smallest amount of common sense or compassion? I will never understand how the citizens of Memphis can support this “shelter.” I can’t imagine the dogs are fed a top of the line dog food. Maybe it’s the change in diet from what they were normally fed before they were on death row, or maybe the stress of being in this prison. MAS never fails to horrify me and increase my blood pressure.

  2. If the Deputy Director and the Vererinary Medical Director are so concerned about the health of the animals, I have a revolutionary idea: stop killing them.
    Memphis Animal Slaughterhouse is the most horrifying Government Institution in the US. Nowhere else in this country are companion animals being abused and neglected before finally being killed like they are in Memphis, TN.

  3. As one of the people that hands out treats every week to the dogs at the Memphis shelter, I am extremely upset. We are giving the dogs treats from Three Dog Bakery, Blue Dog Bakery, and Dog for Dog bars donated by Hollywood Feed. All high quality treats. For some of these dogs, it is the first time they have had a treat. For others, it is their last treat. How can Rebecca Coleman, Janet Hooks, LaSonya Hall, and James Rogers be so cruel?

    1. I would bet that this ‘issue’ is really a response to some animals getting sick – although there would not have been any attempt to find out an actual, factual reason as to the cause, which most assuredly would be from something OTHER than high quality treats (uh, toxic cleaning products, although that would imply that cleaning of some sort was done in this dump, being a more likely possibility, among several possibilities). And then the whining and bitching by staff who either had to see/smell the resulting vomit/diarrhea and MAYBE, just MAYBE had to clean some cages. I mean extra work is just too much – hell, any work is too much to ask of the majority of the free-loading, lazy jerks that work there. Plus, a point in the ‘veterinarian’s’ file that she was ‘pro-active’ and the same in Hall’s file so they can claim that they did some ‘work’ that day. Oh, btw, I note that Hall is proud of her PhD and I wonder what it supposedly was awarded for – anyone know? It would seem to me to be a perfect example of the haha meaning of Piled Higher and Deeper – in the bullshit she’s so good at shoveling, but maybe there’s a ‘school’ she managed to somehow get through that gives away degrees for something she’s supposedly competent in…?

  4. It is incredibly disappointing to not have a response from Memphis Animal Services as of yet whether the volunteers of Memphis Pets Alive! will be able to continue its tradition of providing unexpired, unopened & healthy quality treats from local businesses (Three Dog Bakery, Woof Gang Bakery, Hollywood Feed…) in an effort to help increase “live release” rates and “positive outcomes” through adoption and rescue.

    While this may seem like an insignificant topic to the decision makers sitting behind a desk in another office, there should be no doubt that this small gesture of giving treats helps in an incredible variety of ways:

    The most immediate and heartbreaking fact is that this quality treat may be the dog’s first or last nicety before being killed. Since Memphis Pets Alive! has been denied the ability to distribute treats, even after 90 weeks of doing so without any incident, 100s dogs have been killed (most likely without sedation) without even the smallest kindness of a dog treat.

    Most importantly, giving a treat draws the pet’s attention for an optimal photo opportunity in an effort for MPA! to help showcase the pet and encourage public adoptions or rescue interest — dogs (and cats) have unquestionably been adopted with increasing frequency over the last 18 months due to the photographs taken in this manner.

    And not in the least, it allows the MPA! volunteers to gain some small measure of personality from the pet in an incredibly stressful environment – will a timid dog come forward for a treat, does the goofy high energy one calm down for a treat, does a dog already know the “sit” command? These are huge factors when the public/rescue is looking to save a life. One little gesture, attribute or tilt of the head for a “cookie” is all it takes to steal someone’s heart and move them to save a life.

    Given the extensive and uneventful track record of MPA! distributing treats – it’s unlikely that the snacks provided by MPA! volunteers are the culprit of the alleged illness identified by the veterinarian staff (one of which has – as one might recall –officially been written up in the past for being “cruel” and “inhumane” to a dog). Instead, the facility ought to consider the bags of expired treats sitting on their tables that their own staff/volunteers/visitors may have been distributing… or the fossilized dog waste that sat in a room for weeks unnoticed by anyone but the public, or… other unsanitary measures that continue.

    While I understand that the rule-makers want to establish a particular protocol to ensure that the general public is not randomly distributing questionable treats to make a dog ill, I am confused as to why it is taking WEEKS to resolve this issue.

    Further, rescue/advocacy groups ought to be the very last groups restricted from providing treats given the quality of product and the added offer to allow escort staff to inspect the treats taken in each week; not to mention the huge benefit gained from the gesture and that their very mission is to SAVE pets.

    Yet again Memphis Animal Services and the command that directs them have found another way to make the task of saving a life even more of a challenge for the public that so desperately wants to save EVERY life possible… or at least give them a last treat.

  5. Well, I can understand the concern – especially if it led to dogs vomiting.

    The resulting action they should take is easy – check any treats that the public may be giving to dogs. “You want to see dogs? Sure! Did you bring any treats for them? Can I see them, please? We know that there have been recalls and health concerns with certain types of jerky treats from China and we want to stay on top of it to make sure that the dogs aren’t getting something that could make them sick. Oh, these are cookies from a top dog bakery? No problem, thanks so much for treating our dogs! Right this way…”

    Conversely, “You came to see dogs? Great! Did you bring any treats for them? No? Well here, these are some lovely biscuits donated by a local business just for visitors to hand out! Here’s a whole bunch! Now let’s go see dogs!”

    There. Bases covered. Next up, mass slaughter of pets…

    1. You’d think it would be that simple!

      One of the things I love about the Austin Pets Alive! SHELTER… every kennel/run has a bucket FULL of milkbones just waiting for you to give their dogs a treat.

  6. Isn’t Rebecca Coleman the same monster who would deliberately put a sick puppy in with healthy puppies so she could sign off on the whole litter?

    1. For all we know, she’s still doing that. She wants to be a “forensic” veterinarian – she’s much more interested in pets after they’re dead than when they’re living.

    2. I have heard that before.

      The write up I was referencing has to do with knowingly leaving a dog unattended for multiple days after seeing the embedded collar and rotting flesh that could actually be smelled by others. Still practicing.

      1. Or the cat with horrible degloving injuries she derbrided without pain meds and left to suffer for days before being euthanized…

  7. To Whom This May Concern,
    I am begging you to once again let these animals have their treats. If your worried about what people are giving these dying souls, then please have empathy and understanding that this is something these dogs live for before they die. My suggestion would be to make a rule that they must show you what they are bringing and are going to give to the dogs. If it looks strange or unusual then deny them. Or demand only store boughten treats in sealed bags. I know people also use businesses that make dog treats which is fantastic and they are awesome. I would ask that they being them with a logo bag or some proof that they came from a business. This method would stop any home made treats that may not be made correctly or have something in them that would make the dogs sick. If you think about it, with the amount of animals you put to sleep every day, these treats are like what prisoners in jail and prisons get the week before they are executed. Just one last bit of happiness through a treat can make a huge difference to dogs and cats especially. Please I beg you to allow treats again with something like the rule I posted above. Thank you for listening and considering my ideas. May God bless all these poor souls who didn’t ask to be there or to even be born only to die a untimely death. Also May God Bless the people at work at this place who have love and empathy and do what they can to find homes and spoil these animals if the have to die.💔

  8. The one last joy these poor dogs have you want to take it away??!! God help these poor animals!!! They need to be sent to a shelter that will actually CARE for them, not deprive them further.

  9. Oh dear, only Memphis Animal Slaughterhouse can think of yet another way to mistreat animals. How do they do it? Our local hs provides appropriate treats in buckets that hang on the door of each dog’s kennel. The kind and amount are placed with each dog’s needs in mind. This is not rocket science. But, hey, that would mean work, that would give the dogs some pleasure and that’s not how they fly there. Besides, MPA folks make the others look like they are the “bad guys” and we can’t have that, can we?

    Oh, there are appropriate treats also left out for the cats so volunteers and visitors can, you know, “treat” them to something nice.

    Probably would be banned if I could say what I would like to say about MAS and the sadistic morons who run it (apologies to morons)!

  10. It’s all about CONTROL! Rogers and his minions have an insatiable need to control. Rebecca Coleman isn’t a vet any normal person would permit to take care of their pet. She just doesn’t care about the health of the dogs. If she did she would make sure that they were medically taken care of when they enter MAS with injuries. She has shown that she doesn’t do that.

  11. As much as I hate the Memphis killing factory. Taken at face value, I agree with their position.

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