The Capacity to Care in Memphis
June 27, 2012
Memphis Animal Services (MAS) interim director James Rogers was appointed by Mayor Wharton in late February. In a recent speech to the rotary club, Mr. Rogers talked about his work to date at the pound:
“We’re looking at 100 days. Look at what’s happened in 100 days. What do you think it will look like in another 100 days? We’re on a positive trend. And we will continue to march forward in terms of excellence.”
Let’s look at
President Mr. Rogers’ march toward excellence. The MAS kill rate for March was 61%; April was 58%; May was 68%. During his first three full months as interim director, Mr. Rogers has overseen the killing of approximately 62% of the pets he is paid to protect.
Bear in mind that all this needless killing has occurred while cages at the pound sit empty. At the last public meeting on June 13, Mr. Rogers told concerned advocates that the pound’s capacity is 555 animals but due to a shortage of employees, the capacity to care is 356 animals. He said he is down 3 technicians. Gee, if only the 3 staffers indicted on animal cruelty were still on the job, the pound could “care” for more pets.
I presume the city of Memphis is suffering the same economic woes as the rest of the nation and is bursting at the seams with skilled people desperate for jobs. Is the city really contending that no one in Memphis wants a union job with city benefits that starts immediately?
This morning there are only 265 animals listed on the MAS PetHarbor site. Of those, there are 14 adoptable cats, 14 adoptable dogs (although just 11 have photos) and 1 raccoon. MAS has the ability to easily update records on every animal in its care in real time via its Chameleon software’s interface with PetHarbor. Why are there only 265 pets listed?
Even if we were to buy into the idea (which I don’t) that no one in Memphis wants a job at MAS, why isn’t the pound at least caring for the 356 pets for whom Mr. Rogers says he has sufficient staff? What about the free labor provided by inmates at the pound – doesn’t that increase the capacity to care? Why is MAS turning away volunteers during this crisis?
Shelter pets are being killed in Memphis while cages sit empty, MAS jobs remain vacant and offers of volunteer help are, at best, ignored. Where is the accountability? Is this excellence?