Debunked: Memphis Shelter Advisory Board Meeting

See one attendee’s notes here.

Three squad cars dispatched to the Adversary Board meeting.  Calling all cars!  Taxpayers who give a thumbs down to hanging puppies on chokepoles participating in local government!

Remember how we used to hear that the shelter staff suffered from compassion fatigue and they needed special classes to cope?  Now they’re shocked, shocked I tell you, that three co-workers got arrested for doing what the staff sees them do every working day of every month of every year.  Counselors on standby.  Gee, is there any comfort being offered to the pets at MAS – the ones being hurt by the employees before being killed?  I don’t expect the city to go all out and bring in counselors but maybe, I don’t know – a brochure?  A Hallmark card?  Sorry you got your head smashed on a wall. Now we’re going to kill you.

Mr. Rogers says his only pet was run down by a car when he was a kid. Because he says, that’s what happens when you own pets and live in the city. But we should believe he sees value in the pets at MAS and will protect them from the workers?

It sounds as if there will be an infinite loop of train, test and fail for workers who don’t score high enough on the test Mr. Rogers provides.  This is not reform.  This is you’ll-keep-taking-this-test-until-you-achieve-the-desired-score-dammit!  A capuchin monkey could be “trained” in this same manner, possibly with a better outcome for the pets at MAS.

Compassion is not something that can be trained into a person or measured by a test score.  Compassion is pass/fail.  And the workers at MAS, along with those who have enabled the abuse and killing all these years, have gotten a fail on compassion.  Time to quit making excuses and clean house.

Census as of last night was reported as 250 animals.  Really?  Because at the end of February there were 515 animals on hand per MAS records.  So where are the other 265 animals – missing?  Lost?  Record keeping screw up of epic proportion?

Kill rate for January and February reported as 52%.  False.  Obtained via FOIA request, the January 2012 stats indicate 950 pets taken in, 173 adopted, 21 died in cage, 2 escaped (lucky critters), and 658 killed.  Number of animals on hand as of January 31, 2012: 528.  The February 2012 stats indicate 974 pets taken in, 10 died in cage, 621 killed and 69 “other” (no idea what this means – anyone?).  Setting aside the mystery “other” category, the kill rate for January and February at MAS was 68%.

“If what you’ve been taught is wrong” does not apply to animal cruelty.  Unless the city contends that animal abusers taught other animal abusers how to hurt pets at MAS, no one was “taught wrong”.  Animal abusers have no place in shelters.  Period.

Not surprising that the Adversary Board refused to take up the conversation regarding a ban on chokepoles.  After all, it’s the only tool in the toolbox at MAS.

As far as certified kill techs, cameras and vets in the kill room go, I have an alternative solution: Stop the killing. If Memphis would implement the programs of the No Kill Equation, it could save most every pet in its care. For the very few pets who require true euthanasia to end suffering when a vet has diagnosed them as medically hopeless, MAS wouldn’t need even one full time person to perform this duty as it would be performed sparsely. Those trained in euthanasia should primarily be working on saving pets, stopping only occasionally to perform euthanasia when needed. Problem solved.

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25 Comments

  1. FixCharlotte

     /  March 15, 2012

    But, but, but…If they stopped killing, how would all those poor employees ever earn enough to feed their families?? Oh No!

    Reply
    • They’re down three employees because the employees who were arrested and who are on leave WITH PAY aren’t there to “help” now. Plus at the meeting it was said more than once that they can’t get people to work at MAS. Clean it up and there are several people who would work and volunteer at MAS – but there’s got to be attention to ridding the place of some staff and some volunteer leaders who foster the same-old-same-old.

      Reply
      • Caring people who are attracted to job opportunities where they get to work with animals tend to shy away (to put it mildly) from places that hurt and kill pets.

      • Jennifer

         /  March 15, 2012

        I went to the City of Memphis website a few days ago and I did not see any job postings for the MAS. I was curious if they were going to expect the remaining workers to do all the work now that three employees are gone.

        Would anyone know where to find the job postings? I am interested in knowing what the job requirements are for the different job titles!

  2. Laceysmom

     /  March 15, 2012

    Again, you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head.

    Reply
  3. Another great post!
    Re “If what you’ve been taught is wrong” – that’s the same racist BS used for Michael Vick’s defense for choking/drowning/electrocuting dogs.. Of course there are cultural differences in how pets are treated – e.g. the idea that pets need to be able to “run free” at least part of the time, or that they don’t belong indoors. BUT there is NO culture that endorses true cruelty. I work with poor people/old people/people of various ethnicities in both rural and urban settings every day, and although many don’t keep pets the way I would, the norm is that they do love their pets, and treat them gently and with affection. And COMPASSION, dagnabit! It’s not a matter of what color you are, or where you grew up. It’s a matter of being a normal human being instead of a sociopath.

    Reply
    • Nobody ever taught me that it’s wrong to hurt dogs and cats. I knew it the same as I knew how to breathe. I’m poor, I’m rural, and I’m in the deep south.

      Reply
  4. Arlene

     /  March 15, 2012

    Liars can’t figure and figures don’t lie: Good job Shirley. Using their own information too. Can’t get any better than that.

    While I’m expounding on figures…..city says there shall be seven board members on the advisory board. Only five were listed and I guess in fact there are only four? What’s up with that?

    Reply
  5. Judy Perkins

     /  March 15, 2012

    Shirley, you are doing a great job. Keeping them in the news and on your blog will hopefully change the way things are done as this shelter.

    Reply
  6. Angela B.

     /  March 15, 2012

    Can we email/write to the board members separately? Can they ALL be non-compassionate humans?

    About the vet, she’d rather focus on getting the dogs ready for adoption (the ones that are lucky enough) instead of comforting dogs during their last breath? hell, they’re just gone’ die anyways, right?

    Reply
  7. The addresses that worked for me a couple of weeks ago for the 2 vets on the advisory board were doctower@aol.com and info@utopiaanimalhospital.com – but I haven’t seen addresses for other advisory board members.

    Reply
  8. jcs

     /  March 15, 2012

    The meeting was NOT all bad … I was there so I know what occurred and what was said.

    It is SO easy for you to take a few comments by someone and make your own conclusions that are based on incomplete information.

    Chokepoles cannot be banned – that is ludicrous. The safety of ACOs can be compromised if they can NEVER use a chokepole.

    Should they know how to use a chokepole correctly? Absolutely.

    That is what Mr. Rogers is working on. Mr. Rogers ALSO said that training is taking place to equip the ACOs and techs with many OTHER options that can be used instead of a chokepole and that the pole is used when personal safety is an issue or if there is no other way to catch the animal to contain it.

    You all want all of the employees fired YESTERDAY. It doesn’t work that way, in spite of my similar feelings.

    Mr. Rogers has to start at the point where HE came on the job. He cannot fire anyone that does not have any infractions recorded in their personnel files prior to him working there.

    But he can begin from HIS starting point to retrain employees and then hold them accountable for adhering to that training. He stated that if employees are not doing their jobs properly after they have been retrained, then he will go through the process of documenting those violations and holding those employees accountable.

    Example – Mr. Rogers mentioned the cleaning of the kennels. He is telling and requiring the employees to clean kennels significantly more than 1 or 2 times a day.

    Mr. Rogers’ “census” numbers are based on data thru March 13. The numbers for March are not in the data you requested. I will be making my own open records request to verify his numbers.

    You keep talking about the “no kill equation” like is it THE answer to EVERYTHING and that it needs to happen RIGHT NOW in Memphis, period.

    That also will not happen “right now”. There are many no-kill components that can be applied at MAS but that also TAKES TIME. You want the ‘bad’ employees “OUT”? That takes time – the employees are union and there is a process to be followed. Mr. Rogers says he will follow that process and document employee issues.

    That also TAKES TIME. It will NOT happen instantly!

    Thus, getting a security camera in the ER room WILL be a positive step and just about everyone in the meeting room (even most of the board members) were FOR it.

    The employees now know – thanks to your open records requests – that the security camera footage CAN be ‘seen’ by the public. They also know that there just might be more undercover officers working at MAS. They also know that Mr. Rogers has a monitor where he can view all cameras and watch what is going on at any and/or all times.

    Mr. Rogers deserves the chance – some time – to prove that he is doing what he has said he will do. He has already suspended more than one employee for ‘on the job’ issues (they were suspended for several days).

    You are not anywhere NEAR Memphis and you are not privy to everything that goes on regarding MAS or anything else in the Memphis area.

    If you have all the answers and can get everything instantly fixed, then move here and get busy. Otherwise, you do not know how hard the locals have been working on this and what it will take to get real and lasting change.

    You are certainly entitled to your opinions and discussions, but try to make sure you have ALL the information before you jump to conclusions that may be, to varying degrees, erroneous.

    Reply
    • I allow anonymous comments in order to facilitate whistleblowers providing information to protect shelter pets and similar. You are abusing the privilege “jcs”. This will be your final comment under this name. I haven’t publicly outed you as a courtesy but certainly I’m getting tired of your bashing. This is my blog. You are a guest. If you wish to join in the discussion under your real name, please do so. Anonymous bashing is a form of trolling and is not allowed.

      Reply
    • Jessica C

       /  March 16, 2012

      Mr. Rogers has to start at the point where HE came on the job. He cannot fire anyone that does not have any infractions recorded in their personnel files prior to him working there.

      But he can begin from HIS starting point to retrain employees and then hold them accountable for adhering to that training. He stated that if employees are not doing their jobs properly after they have been retrained, then he will go through the process of documenting those violations and holding those employees accountable.”

      That’s what we’ve been hearing since 2007- at least 5 years ago. Pepper took over, made it sound like the wheels of progress were in motion, and then nothing was ever accomplished. Now he’s gone and Rogers is in there and I’m hoping it wont be- but it probably will be- the same thing happening here. I get that it takes time, we aren’t disputing that, but they’ve had 5 years to do something and nothing’s really been accomplished. Except for not selling pitbulls/fighting pitbulls out the back door, it seems like its actually getting worse (though I still suspect the pitbull thing it’s just kept more quiet).

      Reply
  9. Laceysmom

     /  March 15, 2012

    Ms. Thislewaite and YesBiscuit – I think what you say and have accomplished have been eye opening for me. I moved here 2 years ago and heard about the problems at MAS from a friend who used to live here. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this blog that it really came to light. If it wasn’t for this blog and it’s writer, I don’t think much of anything good would have come to MAS. There are other rescue people in town but YesBiscuit has been the loudest and the clearest voice that I have heard. I thank you for being there for the animals and I am still amazed that you do this all from the east side of the country!

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad to know the blog has been of some use to you in learning about MAS.

      Reply
      • funisbest

         /  March 17, 2012

        Laceysmom is absolutely right. I’ve lived here most of my life & have been in & out of MAS for 45 years, yet I was still mostly in the dark about MAS until I was directed to YesBiscuit! by Herman Morris’ nasty letter to you.

        With YesBiscuit!’s very informative blog, we are all better armed to fight against the people who have continually kept MAS as a ridiculously inept shelter with a history of criminal behavior. We all, including the cats & dogs, owe you much for your work. Memphis will eventually be better off for it.

  10. Jennifer

     /  March 15, 2012

    “Mr. Rogers says his only pet was run down by a car when he was a kid. Because he says, that’s what happens when you own pets and live in the city.”

    This is a stupid statement! The only reason owner pets are killed by cars in cities is when you let them outside without a leash in a non-fenced area or they get out of a fenced yard or house by accident. I lived in Houston-much larger than Memphis and none of my dogs ever got loose and I lived off of an 8 lane street. I have also traveled with dogs across the country and only two times did a dog get loose and I was able to get him back quickly. Since doing rescue in 1992, I have never had a dog killed by a car.

    Reply
  11. Ona

     /  March 15, 2012

    Shirley, I cannot thank you enough for putting the atrocities of the Memphis shelter on a national level. You just keep doing what you are doing.

    Reply
  12. Interesting video of 2007 theft of 36 pitbulls from MAS shown on recent ABC 24 news story.

    Reply
  13. The workers are shocked? I am shocked at what they do to those animals. I am shocked that there are such degrading and Ignorant people abusing the animals at MAS. I am shocked that people are standing up for them after what I saw they did to those helpless dogs. I am shocked that people hold a life in such disregard. I am shocked that from the Mayor on down are only worried about themselves instead of doing what they should be doing looking out for the MAS animals. Most of all I am shocked that the City government has no moral or ethical standard at all. From what I see there is a low bar in Memphis on a lot of things.

    Reply
  14. Karen F

     /  March 15, 2012

    It’s amazing how the day when things will be better at animal shelters is always off in the hazy distance. They get nicer buildings — not enough for the animals to be saved. They get new leadership — not enough for the animals to be saved. They get training and more training — yet, somehow, no amount of training and discussion is enough for the animals to be saved.

    The reality is that when you compare Rogers’s behavior to that of someone who is actually doing a great job running a shelter, there is . . . well, there’s just no comparison.

    Are there frequent offsite adoptions? Are the pets all listed online? Are they all being treated the way the cats are treated by that wonderful volunteer?

    I think the answers are no, no, and no.

    I will be amazed if the March figures are any improvement.

    Reply
  15. layla

     /  March 15, 2012

    Not sure if you all have seen this:

    http://www.memphisflyer.com/NewsBlog/archives/2012/03/15/euthanasia-rate-adoption-rate-down-at-memphis-animal-services

    Looks like they’ve got a spin meister at work.

    Reply
  16. funisbest

     /  March 17, 2012

    The Mayor said, “We’ll take whatever steps necessary to root out corruption & wrong-doing in government.” I heard no mention of steps taken to protect the lives of those being abused, no steps taken to stop animals from being harmed, only steps taken to straighten out his “government”.

    The issue is the protection of those that shouldn’t be abused, cats & dogs. He made it sound like it’s more the protection of government.

    The three arrested/charged with abuse are the same three we have been seeing for years abusing cats/dogs. Other employees are “shocked” only because the three’s behavior of abuse is normal to everyone that all of them indulge in.

    I’m only surprised because SOMETHING was done.

    Reply

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