The ongoing debacle at Memphis Animal Services is almost beyond belief. This “shelter” and its many abuses have been the talk of the animal welfare world in recent months, and the public is growing increasingly outraged as the nightmare continues. And yet, Memphis city leaders continue to stand back and do nothing.
It’s worth mentioning that in 2009, webcams were installed at MAS after deputies raided the shelter and found animals sick and starving. Since then, webcams have caught shelter workers engaged in all sorts of abusive actions, including holding cats up in the air with chokepoles, carrying dogs by the neck and dragging terrified dogs across the floor. These types of outrageous behaviors are caught on camera almost daily, and logged by concerned animal lovers watching the feed.
Blogger Shirley Thistlethwaite of YesBiscuit has been chronicling this nightmare, and alerting the world to the pain & misery being inflicted on these voiceless creatures.
The catalog of charges against MAS include:
- Most of the animals at MAS are kept in the stray area, out of public viewing, and are killed without ever reaching the adoption floor.
- A few weeks ago, a family’s 11-year-old pit bull went missing immediately after impound. MAS has failed to answer to the family regarding the whereabouts of their beloved pet.
- A convicted felon on staff has recently been arrested on two counts of animal cruelty, after the aforementioned dog went missing in her care, and another injured dog died in her truck as she drove around attempting to evade police. This worker has since been suspended WITH pay (don’t you love seeing your tax dollars at work?)
- The MAS board has illegally shut the public out of their monthly meetings – and are trying to claim that their organization is an exception to Tennessee’s sunshine law.
- Threatening Ms. Thistlethwaite with legal action in an attempt to shut her up.
And the list goes on. The obvious lawbreaking and abuses are SO apparent (most having been caught on video), it’s absolutely shocking to any sane person that nothing has been done. Day after day, the abuse continues. And city leaders continue to defend Shelter Director Matthew Pepper.
Is this the Twilight Zone? In what other field can you be a complete and utter failure, with your staff engaging in illegal behavior – and STILL be defended by your superiors?
And now – as the shelter plans to move into a new facility, the announcement was recently made that webcams will not be installed at the new building. WHY, you might ask? Because shelter workers fear for their safety. You heard that right … let’s not concern ourselves with the safety of the abused and neglected animals these employees are paid to care for, or the 12,000 animals MAS slaughters each year (a 77% kill rate), let’s worry about the employees fearing vengeance for their abusive actions. That makes COMPLETE sense (note the sarcasm).
The mayor said the following in 2009 when the cameras went up: “This will be the ultimate transparency, I want to dispel the image that the animal shelter is a despicable place where all these horrible things go on.”
Ummm, too bad the cameras did the exact opposite – they PROVED to the public that the shelter is a despicable place where many horrible things go on. Which explains exactly why they want to take the cameras down … sweeping the truth under the rug is the only way high-kill shelters continue to operate on the public’s dime.
I am truly in disbelief. That any public agency can continue to willfully break the law, and get away with it – is beyond me. What the hell is happening in Memphis? Mayor Wharton, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! Do you realize what kind of reputation your city is obtaining across the country – and the world?
Bravo to Shirley Thistlethwaite for continuing to cover this story. This situation seems to get worse, day by day. She’s doing an incredible job, and the animals of Memphis are lucky to have her on their side.
If you want to help, join YesBiscuit’s letter writing campaign, and make your voice heard (respectfully, of course).