Adoptable Fat-Headed Dogs in Memphis: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Memphis Animal Services got a new director this summer. Dogs labeled as pitbulls at the facility would not notice.

MAS continues its long tradition of discrimination against any dog labeled pitbull or pitbull mix by staff – regardless of how inaccurate the labels might be.  And it’s not because of any terrible law on the books – it’s a choice made by the pound, because they can.  These dogs are largely kept behind locked doors in “stray”, away from the areas where the public is allowed to look for a new pet.  Even if an adopter knew MAS had more dogs in the “stray” cages and was able to get an employee to unlock the doors and escort them through the area, they wouldn’t be allowed to take home a pet they fell in love with because MAS discriminates against pitbulls.  Adopters are required to submit to background checks and to a fence inspection by MAS staff (if they get around to it before the dog is killed) before being allowed to save a dog labeled pitbull.

And if all of this doesn’t convince you of breed discrimination by MAS, take a look at the 17 dogs on the “disposition list” for Friday.  These dogs all appear to be young and healthy, most of them have been tested for heartworm and come up negative, and all of them were labeled pitbull or pitbull mix by MAS staff before being locked away in the stray area.  Yesterday afternoon, rescuers received emails from MAS notifying them that all these dogs have until 4:45pm Friday.

There are a number of 3 – 6 month old puppies in the bunch and many beautiful adult dogs as well.  All photos were posted by Memphis Pets Alive on social media:

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(Thanks Jenn.)

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.)

MAS Takes in 3 Kittens, 3 Kittens Die Alone in Their Cages

mas 287452

Kitten ID #287452 was brought into the Memphis pound on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. The MAS vet noted he had a soft tissue ulceration near the tail base and was underweight. The kitten’s weight was recorded as 9.3 ounces. A note was entered into the kitten’s record that he should be transferred out immediately and not be kept overnight:

mas 287452 note

This kitten was left alone overnight in a cage to suffer until he died. His remains were discovered the next day.


mas 287971

Kitten ID #287971 was brought to the Memphis pound by the owner of the litter on June 17. The owner requested euthanasia because the kitten was lethargic, not nursing and had crawled away from the mama cat and siblings. The kitten’s weight was recorded as 10 ounces.

This kitten was left alone in a cage to suffer until she died. Her remains were discovered during vet rounds the same day she was brought in for euthanasia.


mas 287672

Kitten ID #287672 was brought to the Memphis pound on June 7. The kitten’s weight was recorded as 1.4 pounds. On June 10, a veterinary evaluation was requested because it was noted the kitten had diarrhea. On June 11, the kitten was seen by the vet and the following notes were entered into his record: Age was corrected from 9 weeks to 6 weeks. Not eating well, no interest in food, underweight, recommended for transfer to foster care and recommended to see a vet. Really.

This kitten was left alone overnight in a cage to suffer until he died. His remains were discovered the next day.


The complete records for these kittens can be viewed here.

How many more, Memphis?

(Thank you Lou Ann.)

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.)

Top Ten Things I Want to Hear from the New MAS Director

As many of you know, Memphis pound director James Rogers has been shown the door.  The mayor-elect has pledged to find a new director for the facility.  Here are ten things I’d like to hear that person say on day one, minute one:

10.  We do not kill animals here anymore.  We will euthanize animals who are deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian.  They will be few and far between.  Most of the animals we will shelter until they are released to an adopter, foster or rescue group.

9.  We are posting photos of ALL THE ANIMALS online immediately upon impound. Lost animals picked up by ACOs will be photographed in the field so that the owners might find them online before the truck returns to the facility.

8.  This place has public webcams?  Turn those things back on!

7.  Dust off all these unused cages.  We’re going to be putting animals in them.

6.  Unlock all the doors.  The public paid for this facility and pays our salaries.  When the public comes in, they get to see ALL THE ANIMALS.

5.  Every dog in this place gets walked outside at least twice a day, preferably more.  Socialized cats get petted regularly.  Unsocialized kittens get tamed.  Get moving.

4.  Put all those chokepoles in storage.  They will be used rarely and correctly – basically the opposite of how they’ve been used.

3.  The shelter will now be open 7 days a week with extended hours on at least 5 of those days.  Because we want the public to come here.

2.  Shelter records are public information.  If a member of the public asks to see an animal’s records, shelter statistics or any other documents, show them.  Don’t tell someone trying to get an animal live released that she has to file a FOIA request to find out the pet’s medical condition.  That’s just douchey.

And the number one thing I want to hear the new MAS director say immediately upon getting one foot in the door:



Feel free to add your own contributions in the comments.

Remembering Pets Who Died in Their Cages at the Memphis Pound: September 2015

Animals impounded by Memphis Animal Services fall over dead in their cages every month.  Here are the records for the pets who died in anonymity in September at MAS.

I am using this post to memorialize one of those pets who was impounded in “normal” condition then died in his cage the next day.  There are no notes to indicate why an apparently healthy dog suddenly died and no notes indicating anyone at MAS took the slightest interest:

281650 cage card  281650 med records

I’m sorry your last hours on this earth were spent alone in a cage at a pet killing facility. You are loved and you are not forgotten.

How many more, Memphis?

Memphis Pound Fails to List Animals Online for 10 Days

Screenshot of the last 4 dogs listed on the MAS PetHarbor website, taken October 29, 2015.

Screenshot of the last 4 dogs listed on the MAS PetHarbor website, taken October 29, 2015.

Screenshot of the last 4 cats listed on the MAS PetHarbor website, taken October 29, 2015.

Screenshot of the last 4 cats listed on the MAS PetHarbor website, taken October 29, 2015.

Animal advocates are concerned that once again, Memphis Animal Services is not updating the only online listings the city does for animals at the facility:  PetHarbor.  These listings, while far from ideal, are essential since MAS has limited hours, limited services, and lots of locked doors where animals are hidden from view.  In some cases, the online listing is the only way for anyone to know an animal is being kept at the facility.  As usual, MAS director James Rogers blames technical difficulties and wants everyone to please stand by:

From: Lou Ann Selves
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 3:06 PM
To: Rogers, James; Tunstall, DeKeishia Masha; Dunlap, Tracy
Subject: Pet Harbor

PetHarbor shows the last dogs that came into the shelter were on October 19. No dogs have been brought in since that date or has no one updated? Considering review dates are critical, some have a small chance of getting out of there if their info is not available.

Lou Ann Selves


On Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 3:41 PM, <> wrote:
Good afternoon Lou Ann,

We are aware of the issue and working with our IS department and Chameleon customer service to correct. Your patience is appreciated.

Thank you

James M. Rogers
Administrator, MAS


From: Lou Ann Selves
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 3:54 PM
To: Rogers, James
Cc: Tunstall, DeKeishia Masha; Dunlap, Tracy
Subject: Re: Pet Harbor

How will this “issue” affect the animals’ review dates who are coming into the shelter and have no chance to be posted to PetHarbor?


From: <>
Date: Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 3:55 PM
Subject: RE: Pet Harbor
To: Louann Selves

MAS will adjust accordingly. Thanks

Adjust accordingly. So MAS has been no kill for 10 days or… erm, something else?  The animals must really be piling up.  MAS might finally have to use all those brand new cages that have been collecting dust since the place opened.  Or not – video of the Puppy(less) Room at MAS taken this week by Jody Fisher:

So where are all the animals who have been impounded by MAS over the last 10 days?  Where are all the animals whose review dates have been adjusted in order to compensate for the city’s failure to list them online so they can be reclaimed, rescued or adopted?  Why does MAS have so many technical difficulties using PetHarbor?  Is PetHarbor designed for rocket scientist use only?  I reached out to Chameleon for comment last time MAS was blaming the company for the failure to post photos of animals (not very long ago) but no one responded.  Hopefully they are more responsive to their customers who have com-pew-tor problems.  Ten days is an awfully long time to leave animals’ lives hanging in the balance – if in fact any are actually still alive.

Cats Chemically Burned by Unsupervised Inmates at Memphis Pound

On May 31, 2015, a kitten named Snowflake, ID # 277907, was sprayed with an undiluted cleaning chemical (San-O-128) by an unsupervised inmate at Memphis Animal Services.  She suffered painful chemical burns on her legs, tongue and mouth.  She was treated by an outside veterinarian and survived.  This is security camera footage, obtained via FOIA request, of Snowflake being burned with the chemical by the unsupervised inmate at MAS.  (Note:  I edited this video to show both incidences of the kitten being sprayed with the chemical.)

On June 1, 2015, a one year old cat named Sydney, ID #277271, was also abused by the same unsupervised inmate at MAS.  She suffered painful chemical burns on her eyes, tongue, mouth and ears.  Sydney was treated by an outside veterinarian and survived.  (Warning: The video below depicts animal abuse and readers will find it disturbing.)

A month and a half later, it was noted in Sydney’s medical record by the MAS vet that she has a corneal defect:

Portion of MAS records for cat ID #277271.

Portion of MAS records for cat ID #277271.

On June 5, 2015, an owner was trying to reclaim his spayed, 10 year old cat called Uptimus (ID #278237) from MAS.  Due to the mandatory spay-neuter law in Memphis, MAS refused to release the cat without verifying a spay scar.  Uptimus had spent her whole life as an indoor pet and was very scared at the pound.  She would not allow a stranger to shave and examine her abdomen and so MAS continued to hold her until the veterinary staff could sedate her for an exam.

While Uptimus was waiting to go home, another inmate, also unsupervised, intentionally sprayed her with the same undiluted cleaning chemical used by the inmate in the previous videos to hurt the other 2 cats.  Uptimus was trapped in her cage and could not escape her torturer.  (Warning:  Although Uptimus can not be seen in the video, some readers will find it disturbing.)

Uptimus, her face swollen as a result of chemical burns, at MAS.

Uptimus, her face swollen as a result of chemical burns, at MAS.

Uptimus was found on June 6 wedged between the feral box and the side of her cage with severe facial swelling, severe drooling, and suffering from severe dehydration.  MAS staff determined she had been exposed to the undiluted cleaning chemical and sent her to an emergency vet clinic.  At the emergency clinic, Uptimus had an IV catheter placed as well as a feeding tube as her mouth was so swollen, she was unable to eat normally.  X-rays revealed she was suffering from chemical pneumonia.  She was found dead in her cage at 2am.

In light of the abuse which MAS failed to prevent and the terrible suffering endured by Uptimus as a result of this abuse, it is very difficult to read the notes from MAS staff members regarding their interactions with the pet’s owner, Mr. Kotee:

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

MAS staff wasn’t any nicer to Mr. Kotee after his pet died either:

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

Portion of MAS records for Uptimus, cat ID #278237.

I am so sorry for the needless heartbreak Mr. Kotee must be suffering. MAS management should have followed protocol and supervised inmates at all times. Instead inmates were left alone with cats to hurt them. And then MAS staff treated the owner like he was second class. I can absolutely understand Mr. Kotee not wanting to give these people his ID. MAS staff are apparently sticklers for following the rules when it comes to EVERYONE EXCEPT THEMSELVES.

Records for Snowflake and Uptimus, obtained via FOIA request, can be read here.  Additional records on Snowflake and Uptimus, as well as records for Sydney, can be read here.

A local paper reported that both inmates were charged with animal cruelty.  On July 11, a shelter supervisor who allowed the inmates to work unsupervised – a failure which resulted in the torture and death of a beloved pet and painful injuries to two other cats – received a written reprimand from MAS.  A second supervisor also received a written reprimand but it was rescinded 2 weeks later by MAS director James Rogers.

Number of cats chemically burned by inmates whom MAS staff failed to supervise:  three.  Number of cats who died as a result of their injuries:  one.  Number of MAS staffers who lost their job as a result:  zero.

How many more, Memphis?

Google Reviews of Memphis Pound

Some of the dozens of reviews which have earned MAS a 1.5 star rating on Google:

mas google reviews
mas google reviews1
mas google reviews2
mas google reviews3
mas google reviews4 mas google reviews5
mas google reviews6

(Thanks to the reader who sent in this link.)

Shelter Pet of the Day – Memphis, TN

Dog ID #281205 at the Memphis pound.

Dog ID #281205 at the Memphis pound.

Based on the number of animals the Memphis pound currently has listed on PetHarbor, there appear to be more than 350 empty cages at the facility today.

Screengrab from PetHarbor showing 192 animals listed by the Memphis pound on September 15, 2015.

Screengrab from PetHarbor showing 192 animals listed by the Memphis pound on September 15, 2015.

But dog ID #281205 can’t be allowed to live in one of those empty cages because he is “past his review date”.  And no one has applied to adopt him because he is being kept in a cage behind locked doors at the Memphis pound.  The public is barred from seeing him because, as one supervisor told rescuer Jody Fisher, “This is not a dog that should be in the adoption area – we would catch flack for having him out on the floor in his condition.”  He is not listed on PetHarbor either.  As usual, MAS is concerned about appearances, not lifesaving.

This fellow is old, he is HW+, he’s thin and it looks like he’s got a hematoma on his ear, possibly from an infection.  Maybe he’s not the most dashing dog in the place but I think he’s handsome and would look very nice with a lipstick kiss on top of his head.

If anyone wants to meet him, they’ll have to find a pound staffer willing to help.  And because MAS chooses to arbitrarily discriminate against certain dogs based on body shape, any potential adopter will have to jump through special hoops in order to save this dog.  But who doesn’t love a challenge?  The pound is open from 1pm to 7pm today.  Anyone interested in saving this dog must do so before 6:45pm.

Memphis city pound
2350 Appling City Cove
Memphis, TN 38133
(901) 636-PAWS (7297)

Let us know if you need help.