Ebony’s Owner Requested Euthanasia at MAS, All Ebony Got was a Cage to Suffer In

End of life decisions for pets are painful and difficult.  None of us wants to take a pet in for euthanasia too soon and at the same time we don’t want to wait too long.  On the one hand, there is hope the pet could possibly rally once more and have a little bit more quality time in this life.  On the other hand, when the vet has told you there is no reasonable hope for recovery and you believe your beloved family member has no rallies left in her, you don’t want her to needlessly suffer through to the natural end of life.  Nature can be cruel.  Euthanasia is the final kindness we can offer to our pets.

Speaking for myself, once I’ve made the decision that it’s time, I don’t want to delay.  I want the suffering to end as soon as possible.  My vet has always been very good about moving us to the front of the line in these cases.

This is one of the reasons why, when reviewing the records for the many animals who die in their cages at the Memphis pound each month, I found Ebony’s story so heartbreaking.  Ebony was a 15 year old pitbull whose health was failing.  She had stopped eating, which is one of the ways dogs prepare themselves for death.  She had wasted away to a mere 20 pounds.  Her owner decided it was time.  He brought her to Memphis Animal Services on the afternoon of May 10 and requested euthanasia.  It was a Tuesday, when MAS was open for “all services” from 1pm to 7pm.

ebony cage card
Copy of Ebony’s cage card at MAS, obtained via FOIA request.

Rather than immediately get a vet to look at Ebony and then, assuming the vet agreed that she was medically hopeless and suffering, perform the euthanasia, MAS staff put her on a dolly, wheeled her to a cage in the kill-holding room and left her there.  A staff member entered a note in her records indicating she was a “high priority euthanasia”.  But it was after 4 pm and apparently high priority means something other than HIGH PRIORITY at MAS, at least after 4pm.  Ebony was left alone in a cage to suffer until she finally died at some point before someone on the next morning shift noted she was dead.

I have held my own elderly, frail, weak dogs in my arms at the end of their lives.  I have carried them, sometimes in blankets, as gently as possible, knowing every movement is painful for them.  It makes my stomach turn to think of MAS putting 20 pound Ebony on a dolly and wheeling her to a cage. Leaving her there alone, in pain, surrounded by the smells and sounds of fear from the other dogs awaiting death, makes my heart hurt.  She must have been confused and frightened on top of her physical torment.  I dread to think how long every minute of those dark hours must have seemed before death finally arose from the cold concrete to embrace her.

But as awful as all of that is to imagine, the thing that pissed me off was the solitary vet note entered in Ebony’s records:

ebony med note Passed while sleeping.  Excuse fucking me?  THIS is the vet note?  Not, “none of us here are doing our jobs so we just left this pet to rot” or “appears to have groaned in agony all night long, alone in the dark while we cashed our paychecks” but the ever so peaceful sounding “passed while sleeping”.  So tranquil.  Almost like a service at a spa.  A spa for death.

That is some first class enabling/criminal cover up there.  I guess practice makes perfect.

Fire these outrageous excuses for animal care professionals already.  Every one of them.  Then prosecute them using the same standards as would be used against any citizen who intentionally left a dog to suffer like this.  This is hardly the first time.  And until the citizens of Memphis take a stand, it won’t be the last.

I hope your 15 years on this earth were beautiful and happy, Ebony.  I’m sorry your death at MAS was so needlessly cruel.  There are such things as monsters and you should not have had to find that out at the hour of your greatest need.  How many more, Memphis?

(Thanks Lou Ann.)

23 thoughts on “Ebony’s Owner Requested Euthanasia at MAS, All Ebony Got was a Cage to Suffer In

  1. I can’t find words for the cruelty that takes place at MAS! My heart hurts to know the torture Ebony went through. Stupid me for having thought that a new director would come in and clean house and MAS would become a haven for lost and hurt animals to find their way to a home. Nope! Same old crap, just another day.

    That vet should have been gone long ago. She isn’t in the least bit interested in treating animals. People! Get in her face and do something to stop this insanity.

  2. How is it that they can happily kill healthy animals all day long, but when a suffering animal comes in who clearly needs release, we suddenly have other duties to perform?

    Where is this new director? What is she doing about this?

    And did this clearly non-ambulatory animal urinate on herself at all? Was she able to even reach water? Was there even water in the cages in the kill room? Or do we withhold water from animals we’re going to kill whenever we manage to get around to it?

    Because we KNOW that they left cats and kittens without food or water (or light) for more than 24 hours from the video footage, so why bother watering animals who are going to die, right?


    1. Okay, I’ve calmed down enough to look at the dates – technically, the new director wasn’t in charge when this occurred. MAS had gone without leadership for months, so the inmates were running the asylum, essentially.

      So, this sort of thing will NOT happen again, right? I wonder if she’s aware of what has been going on at MAS? I wonder if she’s going to show this blog post to her people and say, “This happened before I got here. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN. We have lots of people here certified in euthanasia, there is absolutely no excuse to not euthanize an obviously suffering animal immediately upon intake. Anyone who has an issue with that can show themselves out right now.”

  3. Maybe at least they should have told the owner they were going to leave Ebony in a cage overnight. Perhaps the owner would have wanted to take her home and hold her while she passed away naturally. Not immediately euthanizing a dog that is obviously terminal is unconscionable. If they don’t want to provide owner requested euthanasia they should have turned the person away. That is unconscionable

  4. And can I ask – why are there even cages in a euth room? Are animals killed in full view of each other?

  5. Reblogged this on Top Cats Roar… and commented:
    High priority to euthanize, does not mean left alone to suffer. By all means when an animal is near death owners usually chose a safe and swift euthanization or to die naturally in their arms. Ebony was not so fortunate and her story is heartbreaking.

    from YesBiscuit:

    “Ebony was left alone in a cage to suffer until she finally died at some point before someone on the next morning shift noted she was dead.”

    “I hope your 15 years on this earth were beautiful and happy, Ebony. I’m sorry your death at MAS was so needlessly cruel. There are such things as monsters and you should not have had to find that out at the hour of your greatest need. How many more, Memphis?”
    follow the link for the full story…

    Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinions of others…Stay tuned -B

  6. This is horrible beyond any comprehension. My heart breaks for poor Ebony. When we had to euthanize our 14-year-old pittie, Darla, the vet and a tech came to the house. I wish Ebony had been my old girl. RIP, sweetheart.

  7. The new director did not start her job until June 13. Do NOT blame this on the new director.

  8. Whoever pulled those records and gave them to Yesbiscuit should have taken those records and scheduled a meeting with the new director to show the new director the records and discuss it, so that the new director is informed and can review policies and make changes to prevent something like this from happening instead.

    That person should STILL do that. This happened before the new director started. That new director WILL want to be told about this. How about giving that a try?

  9. This is DISGRACEFUL. First off, I would have never let my furbaby alone and let them wheel him/her away. I would have stayed until the procedure was done, which is what I have done in the past. But even still, for them to just leave her in pain is horrible. I hope the new Director makes significant changes in this facility. For all the furbabies sakes.

    1. Having been a vet tech and involved in sheltering for thirtyish years, I know some owners can’t bear to see the final breath of their pet. I’m not that way myself. I want to be the one they feel hugging them as they go. But I won’t condemn those who can’t. Everyone is different. The only people that deserve our wrath is the ones who left her alone in a cage overnight to die when clearly her owner wanted her suffering to be much more brief. Her owner did what they expected would be in her best interest; they tried to have her death be easier. The ones that failed her were likely even paid to do the job. How any group can tell the public they’re ‘there for the animals’ then let Ebony’s life end so miserably is beyond my comprehension.

  10. Was it the new mayor who fired the shithead Rogers several months ago? If so, who was, ostensibly put in charge since then and before the new director came on board? Whoever it was, they need to be punched in the head and fired (in that order). Who is the new director, and what, if anything, is changing at MAS?

  11. Since the new director – Alexis Pugh – started, fewer animals are being euthanized for time and/or space. That is because one of the new director’s goals is to not euthanize for space as long as there is space available, and thus to hold healthy adoptable dogs as long as space is available. MAS is NOT a ‘no-kill’ facility, but she has started on and is working on lowering the euthanasia rate toward a ‘low-kill’ level.

    The new director has been there only 1 week. Decades of problems cannot be fixed ‘overnight’, but given time there will be more positive changes. She has the support of the Mayor to improve the shelter and to hold employees accountable. The accountability will take some time because of the employee union, because the previous director and administration didn’t document anything regarding employee performance or issues.

  12. And to think that the poor girl’s owners were likely charged a hefty “euthanasia fee” to have their dog left to die unaided further infuriates me. What is WRONG with these people?!?! I used to be kennel manager of an open admission shelter, as well as having run a rescue in my time. I’ve been involved with rescue and sheltering for about 30 years. THIS is NOT what it was ever meant to be about. In my time, if a family needed us to help them ease their pet’s passing, we did it right then and there. We offered to let them attend, if they wanted to. We certainly didn’t toss their pet on a bag wagon and wheel it away, then leave it to die on its own in an unfamiliar, lonely cage. This is disgusting.

    1. They are an open intake facility. They don’t charge. They should absolutely allow pet owners to be with their pets at the end. And they need to sedate the animals prior to euthanasia.

      1. Open intake doesn’t mean a thing to me any longer. There are open admission shelters who do very well and save more than 90% of the pets they take in. Not all people are able to be with their pet at the end, but someone should have been with that precious dog and comforted her at the end of her life. Absolutely they should be sedated, too. What happened to this dog is reprehensible and uncalled for.

  13. Our elderly cat had a stroke on Memorial Day, she had been healthy and happy up to then, twenty one years. The thought of her suffering alone in a cage is heartbreaking. We managed to get her into an emergency vet and hold her as she went.
    It’s beyond cruel what the shelter did, it’s sadistic and I hope there is accountability.
    I don’t expect any but I have to hope.

    1. As it should be, vida. And if the owner is unable to be with a pet, someone should be there to comfort an animal as they pass. I cannot even begin to imagine how that owner feels knowing how their precious dog died.

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