MAS Vet Strikes Again

Rebecca Coleman, the shelter vet at the Memphis pound on whose watch numerous dogs have starved to death, including a puppy who was forced to eat his own littermate to survive, and who scrubbed a degloved cat’s wounds without providing pain medication and left him to suffer in a cage for 5 days has again been implicated in an animal cruelty incident at the pound.  This time the victim was a mixed breed puppy who was impounded with a collar embedded in her neck:

According to city records, for days MAS Medical Director Rebecca Coleman did nothing, leaving the dog in its cage with an embedded collar.


According to shelter records, Coleman was the only veterinarian on duty the week the dog arrived. Four days after the dog arrived, it finally received medical attention for what was described as a “severe collar injury.” It was ingrown into the neck with a foul odor. It was so bad that not all of it could be removed; the clasp was left inside the dog because tissue had grown in.

Two days after treatment the dog was euthanized to ease its suffering.

That’s one way of putting it.  Killed to hide the evidence of Rebecca Coleman’s negligence also comes to mind.

The cruelty occurred last fall but no charges have been filed.  Someone did write a note in Rebecca Coleman’s personnel file about the incident.

In related news, there are fresh victims awaiting Dr. Coleman since the city seized two allegedly starving dogs with embedded collars from a Memphis firefighter this week:

According to neighbors and the police, the dogs had chains dug into their necks so deep the dogs were cut and bleeding. Police found bowls filled with dirt and out of reach from where the dogs were chained.


The dogs were taken to the Memphis Animal Shelter, where both are listed at a substantial risk of death.

You don’t say?

Fire.  Them.  All.

(Thank you Karen and Clarice for the links.)


A Spate of Oops-Killings

The last few posts on the blog have involved pets being needlessly and “accidentally” killed by the municipal shelters charged with protecting them.  In Hernando Co, the victim was a dog whose owner, if he had one, wasn’t given the legally mandated time to redeem him because the pound oops-killed him before the holding period expired.  In Jacksonville, it was two newborn kittens who were being transferred from one foster owner to another when the pound oops-killed them without bothering to check.  And in Yuma, AZ, a lost dog whose owners tried to redeem him but were turned away by the pound was oops-killed for coughing.  When public shelters fail to do their jobs and cultivate a culture of killing healthy/treatable pets as the acceptable norm, they damage more than just the staff, volunteers and rescuers involved in day to day operations.  They pollute the community with this morally bankrupt ethos.

A young man in MA had flea bath appointments for his two cats at a veterinary clinic last week.  He first dropped off one kitty, signed the form he was given, then returned shortly afterward to deliver the second cat.  As he was signing that form, which he assumed was a basic form allowing the cats to have flea baths, the vet asked him if he wanted to keep the bodies.

Keep the bodies?

“It was like a blank stare back at each other for the first 10 seconds, then [the veterinarian] immediately grabbed the papers I thought were registration forms and told me I had signed the papers.”

As it turns out, the form the young man was given was an authorization to euthanize a pet, not a consent for a flea bath.  No one at the clinic reportedly explained anything to him – just got his signature on the form and took the cat.

The vet who killed the first cat and was prepared to kill the second one declined to speak with the local TV news but instead hid behind his lawyer, who also hid.

The practice of killing healthy/treatable pets without asking questions, commonplace in too many municipal shelters, is accompanied by a lack of compassion and a failure to stand up for a pet’s most basic right:  the right to live.  This disturbing attitude is not limited to animal shelters and creeps into society at large.  But shelters, whose very names imply a duty to act as a safe haven, provide humane care and protect pets from cruelty, are community leaders and must set the example for others to follow.  When shelters, humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty kill healthy/treatable pets without question and do not advocate for the right of pets to live, it is not surprising to find individuals in the community adopting this same attitude.

It also doesn’t surprise me to read that, when confronted about the killing of a healthy pet, the vet refused to stand behind his actions.  Again, a page from the playbook of too many pounds in this country.  Everyone knows killing healthy/treatable pets is wrong – even those doing the killing.  But most of them aren’t going to stop on their own.  It is up to us as pet lovers and ethically responsible people to publicly demand an end to the killing of healthy/treatable pets and to demand their right to live be respected.  Until we change the culture of acceptance concerning needless pet killing, we will continue to witness this unending parade of death.  And in the end, it doesn’t matter much whether the pets at the landfill were killed by “accident” or by design.  What matters is that most people accept the killing as “necessary” and some even go so far as to call it a “kindness”.  This must change.

Memphis Animal Shelter: Dog Dies, Matthew Pepper Dances

Earlier this month, a pair of family pets escaped their yard and were picked up and brought to the  Memphis Animal Shelter.  The owner showed up to redeem the dogs who were both intact males.  The shelter director, Matthew Pepper, advised the owner that, in order to come into compliance with the new MSN law in Memphis, both dogs would have to be neutered before they could leave the shelter.  The owner said he’d rather take the dogs to his regular vet for the surgeries but Matthew Pepper refused.

According to new Memphis laws, all animals have to be spayed or neutered, but no where in the law does it say the shelter has to perform the sterilization. Shelter bosses created that policy on their own.

So shelter bosses in Memphis are empowered to rewrite laws as they see fit?  Really?

When the owner came back to pick up the dogs post surgery, he was told only one had survived.  The other dog, named Shocker, suffered a post-operative allergic reaction to the anesthesia which went unnoticed because no one was watching him.

While we don’t know if this tragedy was preventable – it’s possible Shocker could have died from the anesthesia reaction even if it happened under the supervision of a veterinarian who took immediate measures to save the dog’s life – we do know three things:

  1. Matthew Pepper was not following the law when he refused to give the dogs back to the owner and ordered the dogs to be neutered at the shelter against the owner’s wishes.
  2. Someone at the shelter with veterinary training should have been monitoring Shocker in recovery to observe for this exact type of incident.  The failure of the shelter to do this is inexcusable.
  3. This event has the potential to be both a legal and a PR nightmare for Matthew Pepper.

Considering the above, go ahead and take a guess at what Matthew Pepper did in the aftermath of Shocker’s death:

  • A. Grant the owner’s request for a refund of the surgery fee.
  • B. Accept responsibility for the dog’s death and assure the public that new shelter protocols are being put into place immediately which will ensure all pets recovering from anesthesia receive appropriate veterinary monitoring.
  • C. Dress up in a dog costume and lock himself in a cage as a publicity stunt to get the shelter some positive press.

If you guessed A – I’m sorry, thanks for playing.  When the owner asked for his money back on the surgery that killed his dog, the shelter whipped out the red ink DENIED stamp.

If you guessed B – Apparently you are unfamiliar with how they do things down at the Memphis Animal Shelter.  Dead dogs are a dime a dozen around there.

For those who guessed C – ding-ding-ding!  And guess what?  The local media ate it upBigTime.

At odd moments on Saturday, workers at the Memphis Animal Shelter would turn their heads to the roof and howl.

And when they gave a rousing rendition of “Who Let the Dogs Out” Matthew Pepper, animal services administrator (dressed for the day in a dog costume), would leave his cage to dance.

Mission Accomplished.

And to Shocker’s owner, who I expect is neither dressed in a costume nor dancing at this moment:  I’m sorry for your loss and I hope you get justice for your dog.

CO Dog’s Death was 100% Preventable

A Colorado dog owner took her dog to the vet because she was dehydrated and vomiting.  The vet said she’d keep the dog overnight.  The next morning, the owner received a phone call from a different vet at another clinic, saying he had her dog and the dog had been hit by a car on the freeway.  The dog died shortly thereafter.

The owner learned that her dog had been placed in a kennel with a broken latch at the original vet clinic and that the back door of that clinic was propped open.  The dog walked out and made her way to the interstate before being run over.

The day after the dog died, the original vet refunded the owner’s $642 payment for veterinary care (she was actually charged?), sent flowers and fired the staff member who had put the dog in the kennel with the broken latch.  The owner visited the clinic and asked to see the kennel and, astonishingly, found another dog inside with the latch still broken.  (Never mind firing the tech, this vet needs to fire herself!)

The owner has filed a complaint with the state veterinary board which may be heard in October.  In the meantime, she has set up a website in tribute to her dog and as a way to educate owners.