New MAS Director Writes “I approve humane euthanasia for this pet” an Awful Lot

Below are some of the many pets killed at the Memphis pound on July 12, 2016.  The complete records, as provided by the city via FOIA request, can be found here (part 1) and here (part two).

This is one of four kittens who lived at MAS for a week. Records indicate the kittens were housed in FERAL 01, were eating cat food well and would sleep together in a pile. There are no notes indicating any of the kittens were sick, malnourished, or losing weight. All four were killed on July 12 when MAS suddenly determined, after they’d been apparently thriving for a week, they were too young to survive.  Oops?:

mas kitten too young

This cat’s intake condition was listed as “injured” on July 7 but there are no notes that any veterinary care – even an examination – was ever provided. It’s unclear if he truly was injured.  Romeo was killed for “time/space” on July 12.  Oops?:

mas cat time

Kitten ID 288617 was part of a litter surrendered to MAS.  The family was housed in cage number ER 04:

mas 288617 card

All the kittens’ medical notes are identical and were presumably copied and pasted into each individual record on July 9:

mas 288617 med

The family was killed on July 12 because three of the kittens had colds:

mas 288617 kill

This would appear to be the kittens’ mother, Mona.  Her record indicates she was housed in cage number ER 04, with her litter:

mas mona card

MAS provided no medical notes for Mona so presumably, none exist.  (She was not the only pet killed by MAS on July 12 for whom no medical notes were provided.)  Mona was killed on July 12 for having a cold.  There appear to be no records supporting this claim:

mas mona

This is Molly, kitten ID 288616 at MAS.  She was housed in cage number FERAL 01, just like the kittens who were killed for being “too young”:

mas 288616 card

Molly’s age is listed on her cage card as 2 months. Her medical notes on July 9 appear to have been copied and pasted from records belonging to Mona’s litter of kittens who were described as newborns and housed in ER 04. Note that on July 9, Molly’s apparently incorrect notes state she has a cold but on July 10, “none noted” appears next to URTI, seeming to reaffirm that Molly was indeed healthy:

mas 288616 med

Molly, who was apparently healthy and whose records appear to contain notes from a different litter of kittens, was killed for having a cold on July 12.  Oops?:

mas kitten 288616

These are two of four pups who were killed despite having a rescue offer to take them after MAS determined they had been exposed to parvo. Note that their “outcome” indicates “transfer – rescue”.  Oops?:

rescue pup mas
rescue pup2 mas

Local animal advocates report that the Memphis pound has never once filled all of its roughly 550 cages since its opening several years ago. There are always many empty cages at MAS, yet animals are still killed for space which, like the overwhelming majority of killings at MAS, seems to make no sense.

In the fall, MAS will reportedly bring in Target Zero, a group which has targeted and created zero no kill communities and which advocates for dumping lost cats lacking identification back on the streets instead of sheltering them. Afterward, MAS will reportedly adopt a plan to continue killing pets for time/space (or not) for another 3 years before ending the practice. Killing for being too young/or not, having a cold/or not, being injured/or not and for having a rescue on the way will continue forever, I guess, since none of these excuses are being addressed by the new director.  And in fact, she’s signing off on them left and right.

Look, I don’t know if some or all of the animals killed by MAS on July 12 were killed by mistake. Maybe some or all were killed intentionally – despite being healthy or in some cases, treatable, despite cage space being available, despite having rescue on the way – whatever. What I do know is that killing shelter pets is wrong.

Euthanasia to end the suffering of medically hopeless pets who have been given a poor/grave prognosis by a veterinarian is something completely different than killing. It’s part of animal sheltering – a very small part. Words matter. Attempting to whitewash the needless killing, by mistake or by design, of healthy/treatable pets by referring to it as “humane euthanasia” is wrong.

The main focus of any animal shelter should be lifesaving – immediate and responsible lifesaving. If that is ever to be the focus at MAS, it must start with a director immediately and responsibly committed to it. It appears that MAS, as ever, is lacking in this area.

Some in Memphis want to excuse the new director’s killing by claiming “these things take time”. To my mind, that is nothing more than enabling the behavior. I don’t need to wait and see how many more animals MAS puts into the dumpster over the next three months, three years or three anything. Molly is too many. Mona is too many. Romeo is too many. Every pet at MAS who is left to die in his cage or is killed under the guise of “humane euthanasia” when he isn’t medically hopeless and suffering is too many.

How many more, Memphis?

(Thanks Lou Ann.)

30 thoughts on “New MAS Director Writes “I approve humane euthanasia for this pet” an Awful Lot

  1. We need shelter reform all across this country. We don’t need government officials running these shelters. What we need are citizens like you and I who love animals and believe every animal is worth saving and deserve to be loved. It is so funny (not a haha funny either) a problem that was created by humans; the innocent animals pay the price. Instead of accepting the responsibility and working to correct the problem.
    We have become such an immoral country it is pathetic. Money and greed is what it is all about.

  2. Thank you for sharing with us, this information on how things are still awful at MAS! I would have had a plan in place, immediately, to stop the killings ( these are not euthanizing- these are killings) . How many outside adoptions have there been in the 63 days since new director started? How is MAS “marketing” all of these awesome pets? 3 years is a long time to continue these killings … I keep shaking my head! Thanks Shirley and LA! Alexis needs to put on her big girl pants- work full time and make necessary changes now!…

  3. I had so hoped that this new director would bring change.

    Looking at things right now, it seems like she’s just another Matthew Pepper – all “changes are coming!!1!” with no actual lifesaving happening. Wonder how much “retraining” of employees is going to happen before she realizes that it’s not the training, it’s the people.

    I’m sorry, but there is NO EXCUSE for this kind of killing to continue. You have kittens with a URI? Antibiotics. We do it at my shelter all the damn time. Was the mom killed for being exposed to the kittens who had colds? Is everyone who sneezes going to be considered “contagious” and slaughtered outright? If that’s so, there’s gonna be a BIG pile of dead kittens with the Director’s name on them.

    And copying/pasting records? No surprise. The staff is so saturated in a culture of killing, they don’t see animals as individuals – just another tick in a box, off to the dumpster you go. Next!

    You cannot train compassion into people.

    The vets need to be fired (really? no antibiotics for sick kittens when it’s SOP everywhere else?). The staff needs to be fired (copy/paste? could you be any more apathetic to the lives in your care?). And the director needs to stop casually signing off on so much death and start looking at ways to actually save lives. I thought she had a background in sheltering? And she doesn’t question not treating URI’s in kittens? She doesn’t question kittens eating on their own being able to survive? She doesn’t ask whether or not rescues are coming for pets? She doesn’t contact rescues herself to get animals out alive?

    Besides “making plans for the future” and signing off on death, what exactly IS she doing?

    Is she even LOOKING at the animals she’s signing off on? Or is it all just paperwork?

  4. She always calls it “humane” euthanasia. Are all pets sedated prior to euthanizing? I think not. I haven’t missed a board meeting in two years, and this comes up at every single one of them. I have difficulty believing every pet is “humanely” euthanized, in spite of her telling the Commercial Appear Podcast that they are.

      1. I imagine so. It bothers me that she’s selling it as if they just float away to the heavens. She even told the Commercial Appeal Podcast that it’s like “they just go to sleep and never wake up.”

      2. It seems dangerous for pets to make it seem like a blissful, dream-like experience, because more folks will bring their pets there without a second thought. Maybe not sugarcoating it could give folks the opportunity to understand what will likely happen to their pets, so they’ll choose something besides MAS for them.

  5. Great postings here, thank you all for speaking out. But what I would like to know is what can be done, really done, to turn things around?

  6. I’m no expert on shelter reform by any means. But now that things have leveled off in Huntsville, for the most part, I can breathe a little more and look back at the last decade. To me, some things are just simple and some behaviors speak for themselves. You can tell me all day long “I don’t want to kill animals,” but when you do just that and you are not doing absolutely every thing in your power to make that stop today – not years from now – your actions speak for themselves. You simply have to own the responsibility for what takes place in your building. Shelter killing of healthy and treatable animals is a black and white issue for me. You are doing it or you are not. If you are still doing it because you are genuinely in the process of moving as fast as you can to develop programs to stop that, I guess I would cut you some slack as long as you call it what it is and stop hiding behind the E word. But to say you want to “save them all” or “get to zero” or whatever catch phrase is being tossed around and you are not investing every bit of your energy into reform yourself, now, your words don’t mean a lot to me. Research, network, call Reva, ask Ryan. Now. Don’t wait for some magic cure to come floating your way from Florida.

    In April of 2013, our shelter director told a leader in the no kill movement “I don’t want to kill animals” before saying “but we are doing a beautiful job and I am loved here.” This was at a time when the live release rate was 41% and right before she refused an offer of free and confidential help to change how her shelter operated. In the months after that conversation, thousands of animals died for no good reason and before we were able to rock the community boat enough to get the attention this subject deserves.

    Target Zero? Just because help is “free” doesn’t mean it is fast or efficient or creates sustainable results. You could ask the folks in Baton Rouge what they think of Target Zero if they were not otherwise focused on trying to save their homes in addition to their pets. I have blogged on this group before any my position is pretty clear.

  7. Why do volunteers have to sign a non disclosure agreement? We know about all the killings; what don’t we know about? Abuse? Where is the transparency Strickland and Pugh purport.

    1. Is the new mayor also working out to be same as the old mayor? What the hell is wrong with this city?

  8. Maybe we should get together and have a ‘meeting’ at the shelter with the director and mayor. There has got to be a change in this shelter for these furbabies!

  9. I am so disgusted by all these people in all these “shelters” that I can no longer stand it. I have grown to despise people until they give me a good reason not to, and often that doesn’t really alleviate my loathing.

  10. On July 17 I picked up my first ever 4 kittens to foster. I told them I could only have them for a month as I would be travelling.The lady made the comment that a month would not be enough time but it was the best I could do. I took them back to MAS today. I asked if I would be able to trace them through their system so I could know what happened to them. I was told they might not last a week. We would have to see if a rescue could pull them. I said I would be gone for a week. I was told they have already been here too long. (They were shown as 4 weeks old when I picked them up.) That means they are 8 weeks old today. They weigh 1.4 lbs. I know this is too young to be spayed/neutered but I thought they would be able to hold them since they couldn’t have been in the actual shelter for a month. I left, went to my car, checked facebook and found this post. Without enough time to read it all I went back in and said I wanted to adopt the kittens. I told them I had just dropped them off as fosters. I told them I wasn’t going to let them die after the effort I have put into them. She asked who told me that they might not last long and I told her it was the woman in intake (which is where I was told to return the fosters). I was given conflicting information.The second woman told me I could check for them on Pet Harbor. But she didn’t guarantee they would be there very long either. I was shocked, heart-broken and disgusted. Between the long-standing negative reputation of MAS and the discrepancy in the information between these two employees I had no choice but to take the kittens and find homes for them. In the short term I have to find a vet that will kennel them at additional expense. As much as I have long wanted to be involved in some way that helps animals I don’t think I will try to help at MAS again.

    1. Thank you for being such an advocate for your kittens. You most likely saved their lives. We, on Yes Biscuit, have been watching and reading about these kinds of things for years. I know if I were in the area, I would probably be arrested for what I’d say to those involved.

  11. Sandi, thank you and bless you for going back for those babies. I know how difficult it is when a place you SHOULD have been able to trust turns out to be anything but. Can I ask if they gave you any trouble about taking them back?

    It seems like the second woman was upset that you had been told the honest truth about the kitten’s chances at MAS. Along with everything else,it seems common for bad ‘shelters’ to outright lie to people or to fight them when they change their mind. I recently took in a FIV positive stray and fostered him for months while trying to find a home. Eventually I found a local no-kill shelter willing to take him. I dropped him off, then promptly had a breakdown and cried for three straight days before giving up and going back for him. I was so worried they wouldn’t want to give him back to me because I was a ‘bad owner’ for giving him up in the first place (even though I only took him in with the intention of it being short term!) I was expecting to be treated badly because so many shelters, including our big community one, would have roadblocked me and punished me for surrendering him. Imagine my relief when the shelter worker recognized me and grinned as soon as I walked through the door! She was delighted Oliver was going home with someone who had already bonded with him and was committed to caring for his medical issues. They had him ready to go in under ten minutes. I have no doubt that MAS fights foster parents who want to find homes for their fosters on their own, even if MAS intends to kill them. Could I also ask if you told MAS you intended to adopt them out?

    1. Listen right to the end – the rescue groups say that they could get in trouble for speaking out about this and be banned from the shelter – the director doesn’t deny this. “Could violate their contract”.


      And Pugh doesn’t exactly come off as trustworthy in this interview. But she did slip and use the word “kill”, which I find interesting.

      How about a show of good faith? Turn on the webcams.

      1. She must know that MAS has “trust issues” with the community they serve. What better way to show that things are on the up and up there?

        Unless, of course, things aren’t on the up and up…

  12. Do anybody know why the new director Alexis Pugh was fired from the Memphis Humane Center ? Because killing animal that could have possible be adopted out for her reasons is unacceptable. You have people out here that wouldn’t mind adopting those kittens and nursing them to health if that been the case. I get so tired of senseless killing of animals at the shelter under the leadership of the director. Something has go to give.

  13. Watch out because things are about to get much worse. Ms. Pugh has hired her buddy from the humane society to do “assessments.” This lady is known to hide and kill perfectly nice dogs for something as small as a scratch or stare. Many volunteers at the humane society witnessed the dogs they spent time walking were suddenly disappearing- not in a good way. Akexis allowed it at HS, and she will at MAS as well, I’m sure. This “trainer” is not qualified, and further, seems to have mental problems. She has no problem ordering perfectly nice dogs to a death sentence. I was ok with giving Mrs. Pugh the benefit of the doubt until this new development.

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