“We will not tolerate the abuse of any animal.” (HUGE asterisk)

The Horn Lake Animal Shelter in Mississippi holds an animal control contract and has an ACO to investigate crimes against animals and help bring those responsible to justice.  The shelter is only open on weekdays and anyone needing help with an animal when the shelter is closed is directed to call the police department:

Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  You may reach us at 662-393-5857 during those hours.  After hours EMERGENCY ONLY call Horn Lake Police Department, 662-393-6174.

On Sunday, the Commercial Appeal ran a story about 3 individuals who had starved and neglected dogs.  All 3 were brought to justice with the help of shelter staff who indicated their commitment to ending such crimes against pets:

Animal Shelter director Frances Williams added, “We will not tolerate the abuse of any animal. We will pursue the maximum penalties and fines that can include jail time up to six months on each count.”

On Tuesday, ABC24 aired a piece in which Frances Williams admitted abusing a dog at the Horn Lake shelter.

Bentley, a German shepherd mix, has been kept unfed with a cover over its cage since Wednesday, October 10. Shelter Director Francis Williams says Officer Lynn Brown told her to do it to break the dog of his aggressive behavior.

“I’m trusting Officer Brown – Officer Lynn Brown – and his method,” she said.

Williams admits she was told to stop feeding the dog, and he was given a little food on October 15.

“The dog is not starving, the dog is very healthy, he’s not thin,” said Williams. “Dogs, from what I understand, can survive several – 2, 3, 4 weeks without food.”

So apparently the standard of care at the Horn Lake shelter is whether a pet can survive the abuse inflicted upon him by Ms. Williams.  Thankfully, another employee refused to participate in the mistreatment of Bentley and blew the whistle.  As a result, she lost her job.

Officer Brown says everything is groovy because someone was watching Bentley suffer:

Brown said while he wasn’t a certified trainer, he has trained hundreds of dogs for police agencies and the military.

“There was no cruelty because the dog was being monitored, still had water, still had shelter and was being watched. And he was fat anyway.”

And fat dogs are excellent candidates for archaic deprivation methods to “break” them.  Because fat.

Although Ms. Williams appears to be offering some sort of Nuremberg Defense, WMC-TV reports that Officer Brown’s boss is uninterested in the case, at best:

Horn Lake Police Chief Darryl Whaley says Brown is a K-9 handler with the police department, and has also trained animals in the military. But Whaley says he does not know what prompted the shelter to take the officer’s advice.

“He was asked for advice on this day. But at the end of the day, we don’t have anything to do with the shelter,” said Chief Whaley. “He was a police officer, either on duty or off duty, and did not have any oversight over them. Not in the same division, so if they chose to follow the advice then so be it.”

So be it.  And if Officer Brown tells Ms. Williams to “break” a toddler of bad behavior through severe deprivation methods, so be that too, I guess.  Apparently it’s a free-for-all under Chief Whaley’s watch in Horn Lake.

Horn Lake is a suburb of Memphis, TN.  Thank Ponies I don’t live there.  Can you imagine finding a hungry stray dog in Horn Lake that you do not personally have the resources to feed and shelter?  I don’t think you’d want to call the Horn Lake Animal Shelter.  Or the Horn Lake Police Department.  And I don’t see driving the dog over to MAS as an option either.

If you want to contact Chief Whaley and encourage him to fully investigate this case, send a respectful e-mail to dwhaley@hornlakepolice.com

The Mayor of Horn Lake is Nat Baker and his assistant is Andrea Mullen.  If you choose to contact them regarding the employment of Frances Williams as director of the city shelter, please keep your comments polite:

To contact the Mayor or Mrs. Mullen you may call 662-342-3502 or e-mail amullen@hornlake.org

Meanwhile, can anyone in the area get Bentley away from the people who are abusing him?

Leave a comment

35 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  October 18, 2012

    And yet, they did not seem to be aware that it was against the law to withhold food from a dog.

    I don’t understand how someone who is a shelter director (or a cop or a…human being) would think that withholding food and stimulus (light, human interaction, etc.) from a dog would be a good thing?

    Reply
    • There is some monster school of animal training that believes it’s appropriate to “break” an animal in order to tame him. I saw a documentary once where a young wild elephant was captured, penned and abused for this purpose. The men took shifts, hitting the elephant with a tree around the clock until he was “broken”. Then they could teach him to perform the tasks they wanted.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  October 18, 2012

        I’d like to think that such things are a relic from another era. Apparently, not entirely…

      • Eucritta

         /  October 18, 2012

        No, they’re not relics. When we adopted our Bertie Woofster, who’s our first dog, I looked on-line for dog-training advice, and I was frankly appalled by much of what I found – forget ‘alpha-rolls,’ some of these websites were recommending that dogs be whipped, kicked or beaten if they were ‘defiant,’ that is, failed to immediately obey a command.

        All I could think was, good grief, back around 350 BCE Xenophon was writing against this sort of animal training. Apparently some of us have learned nothing.

  2. Oh No… this is wrong.. so wrong.. So the dog went without food for 5 days… given a little food … it’s now the 18th. How long do they plan on starving the dog? Is anyone filing charges of animal abuse? If Not WHY?

    Reply
    • And since they consider the dog FAT.. have they bothered to find it owner.. A dog doesn’t get fat wandering the streets

      Reply
      • Steve

         /  October 18, 2012

        Dog wasnt wondering the streets. Owners Signed it away, didnt want to pay and register it as a vicisous dog

    • No charges have been filed that I know of. The Horn Lake shelter would be responsible for citing itself for cruelty and demanding criminal charges be pursued by the police. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

      Reply
  3. Alexa Gilliland

     /  October 18, 2012

    Thank you so much for posting about this! I volunteer at the Horn Lake Animal Shelter and the other volunteers and even the employees seemed to care a great deal about the animals, and the animals I saw were very well taken care of. The shelter has been improved SO MUCH in the past year or so, and its adoption rates are high. That’s why I was SHOCKED to hear about this!

    I really hope that this case blows up like the one did at MAS. This shelter has so much potential, but it MUST be investigated and changes must be made so that this does not happen again.

    I think the main issue is with Director Williams. I believe she should be removed from her position IMMEDIATELY and a full investigation should be done. I don’t know if this was some sort of desperate tactic to make Bentley less aggressive so that he could be adopted out and she honestly thought it was okay, or if she actually just doesn’t give a damn about animals, but either way, she shows an extreme lack of judgement and should be replaced as soon as possible.

    I also think Adriana Montoya, the employee who stood up to the abuse, should be rehired and promoted.

    Reply
    • Karen F

       /  October 18, 2012

      Alexa, I can’t help but wonder (and worry about) what will happen to Bentley. He has been accused of aggression and that doesn’t bode well. I don’t think anything has even been published or broadcast about why and how he came into the shelter. If you learn anything about his well-being and what is planned for him, I hope you’ll let us know. Thank you for volunteering.

      Reply
    • Steve

       /  October 18, 2012

      You are living in lala land

      Reply
  4. I would be aggressive if someone took my food and put me in a cage with I could bet no water and a sheet over my prison. These people are stupid if they think it was lawfull to do this. How are you going to abuse a animal if you are getting paid to take care of them? I wish humans would learn to treat animals better.

    Reply
  5. mikken

     /  October 18, 2012

    If the dog is truly fat and aggressive, I would definitely get a medical work up ASAP. Hypothyroidism springs to mind (which can come with an amazing amount of symptoms, from increased fears to increased aggression to seizures that can manifest as staring into space or lip smacking, etc.) and is a cheap fix. Also, the dog may have pain issues that aren’t being addressed that can result in aggression – bad hips or infected teeth or ears, etc. Especially if the dog was roughly handled at any point and hurting…

    A medical work up is the FIRST step in a dog like this. You cannot know it’s behavioral until you’ve ruled out the medical.

    You’d think someone in a shelter director’s position would know that.

    Reply
  6. Arlene

     /  October 18, 2012

    It seems that those in a position to do the right thing by this dog just were not interested in getting medical to check him out. Shame on them. Poor dog…someone needs to step up and speak for him.

    Reply
  7. Julia Bell

     /  October 18, 2012

    Wonderful coverage of the issue. I work with local rescue groups and am a friend of the whistle-blower, Adriana Montoya.
    Another local rescuer, Debi Wright Berry, has arranged for a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) to visit and examine Bentley. After that we will have a better idea of how to proceed with Bentley. Bentley is being fed and cared for now, until we can get him into a proper foster situation. The shelter is being investigated by the sheriff’s department. The Mississippi Humane Society is keeping an eye on the situation – as well as the world at this point – it would appear.
    I would like to clarify that Horn Lake is not a suburb of Memphis, TN. It is I suppose in the large metro area that includes Memphis, TN, West Memphis, AR and several fast growing cities in Mississippi, which includes Horn Lake, MS.
    Many of us are hoping Adriana Montoya will be hired as the new director to replace Frances Williams (who absolutely needs to resign or be asked to step down immediately). Adriana holds a degree in marketing. She knows how to balance a budget and maintain records for the shelter, and having worked at the shelter and in the rescue community for some time, she has the knowledge about animal care; she knows the laws concerning care of animals; and she has common sense. Oh, and of course she is courageous to stand up to the neanderthals she was working for.

    Reply
    • A number of readers sent me the link to the ABC story on this, some of them in Memphis and at least a couple described Horn Lake as a suburb of Memphis so I included that wording in the post. But I was clear that it’s in Mississippi.

      Reply
      • Julia Bell

         /  October 18, 2012

        Goodness YesBiscuit…I was just clearing that up. Being in the Metro area, our local news is all out of Memphis so people see all the fast growing and proud towns and cities of NorthWest Mississippi as part of Memphis. No problem. But we Mississippians are so proud of where we live (except when something like this happens) that we just have to crow about it. You, of course, are aware of the Memphis Animal Shelter. We will never never ever let our shelters get in that state. Nip it in the bud, while our cities and towns are still growing. Nip it while we citizens can have some control. The Memphis shelter went to hell a long time ago and the new Mayor just keeps polishing the windows and smiling at how nicely things are improving……
        THANK you again for an in depth and factual report on what happened in Horn Lake. I want to say again that I do not think the Horn Lake director should go to jail. She should resign or be fired and that should have happened yesterday. She used extremely poor judgment and I have no idea why she took this policeman’s advice….I can only assume he is some macho bully, but then again, I know Frances Williams – I have met her several times and socialized with her once. I was so surprised at all this. Frances was never cut out for this position. She had no training in running a doggie day care much less a kill shelter. She was the mayor’s secretary prior to getting this position – that she requested when it came available. Didn’t work out well did it? Had they posted the job opening they may have found someone with actual experience.

  8. As Adriana’s mother and a registered nurse, I was appaulded
    at this woman’s attitude. I spoke to every nurse I work with and they said what kind of nourishment is the dog getting? Do you know how bad we would get sued in the hospital if we starved someone no iv no food, oh well they are fat. I have never seen such stupidity going on in a place that we thought cared. I donate money to seeing guide dogs and to the humane society and the international humane society and hopefully there are people watching so that people like Frances Williams are not working there and they dont listen to some cop come in off duty and go step by step by his silly ideas.

    Reply
  9. Steve

     /  October 18, 2012

    Any of you even tried to really research this, even the other side of the story?? I’m thinking not. Truth is.. Bentley show agression towards males and bit a few. Prior to this issue, apparently he was adopted from the shelter and bit the male of the family and was returned. Now.. Bentley is 2-5yrs old right? Most shelters would have put him down right then and there. But wait… Arent one of the main purposes of shelters to try and save animals that people have abandoned, neglected, etc? You folks cant see the forrest for the trees. Any thought that maybe the director was trying to salvage this dog? Even when she didnt really have to? Not condoning a malicious deprivation of food at all. However, if Bentley could talk (as many of you have wanted to be his voice) dont you think he want a chance at rehab vs the death? For those of you who really think this director is maliciously mistreating this dog you are crazy. I think she is trying to save its life (radical approach, yes). I actually commend her for still having that hunger at the belly to not give up on a animal and just allow it be like so many shelter animal all over that ge that final injection.

    Reply
    • Fuck off. The choices are not “abuse” or “kill”. Go applaud animal abusers someplace else. You are banned.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  October 18, 2012

        Simple, elegant, and to the point. Very nice.

      • Oh thank you for this charming and appropriate response. Although banning Steve doesn’t solve the problem in that he’s regurgitating *shelter speak* so eloquently. Perhaps a future blog post could offer additional insights into this subversive language?!
        Can we perhaps discuss specifically why the *shelter* director didn’t really have to salvage dear Bentley?!
        And really, perhaps STEVE needs some rehab himself? Are we not compassionate enough to offer this loving service? Dare I say FEED HIM MORE rather than starve him. Perhaps he just doesn’t know that he’s hungry for more information regarding the no kill equation!
        Oh, and let us not forget the other *shelter* directors who fear allowing dogs into the clutches of the irresponsible public or worse yet, RESCUE, is to support that vile industry of hoarding…killing is kindness, starving is saving, orwellian indeed.

    • DId he just really have the nerve to say “commend her for still having that hunger at the belly’? what a horrible comparison. Its exactlly that visual of that poor dog in pain from starvation as you pathetic excuse for city workers walked by him and covered him up so you didnt have to look at him. What a disgrace you are mr. steve. YOu wouldnt happent to be that BIG FELLA on the news behind the counter at the shelter today would ya? Im wondering if the same technique will help with your big belly aggresion.? take it somewhere else before you loose your job moron.

      Reply
    • Tamara Memphis, TN

       /  October 20, 2012

      I too have researched and I found that this same dog maliciously attacked and KILLED a 13 yr old boy in a secured backyard (riping out his throat). Criminal charges were also files against the owners. After being sent to shelter to be re-adopted, he attack the husband of the next owner. I think the officer’s intention was in fact to spare the dog’s life by not putting him down, however the method that he chose…not so smart. Then to dismiss the staff member for feeding him, as the other staff stood by…well that was just plain dumb. That fact is the ONLY reason (in my opinion) this was brought out the way it has been. I can understand the concerns for the rights of all animals, however, what about the potentially likely event that the dog will hurt someone again…Does that even matter? An aggressive dog is unpredictable, and if animals should have such rights as humans-then the consequences for harming or taking someone’s life should also be weighed into this issue.

      Reply
      • Please provide sources for your claims, preferably links to local media coverage of the events you mention.

  10. Julia Bell

     /  October 18, 2012

    who was STEVE and where did he get his information about the dog’s previous behavior and age? I do not think he is correct.

    Basic facts are that Bentley was owned by a man who never trained him or gave him human contact. He let him run free in the neighborhood and a frightened puppy barks….this puppy barked at people walking by….Or maybe he was barking because he was saying “help me”.

    I have a rescued dog that barks when people come by the house – to the house – when I come home she runs around me barking…………..she had had FOUR forever homes and I was the FOURTH foster for this girl. She was only 5 years old. I’ve had her over 2 years and she is here forever.

    OK. I digress. BENTLEY was a barker and a dog running loose in the neighborhood, which by itself is against the law. The neighbors (or A NEIGHBOR) were sick of it. They called animal control. The owner didn’t care when they picked Bentley up. The neighbor who had been complaining took a cake to the shelter the next day with a bit ICING German Shepherd on it to thank them for getting that horrible barking young dog out of the neighborhood.

    Bentley was adopted quickly, and the adopters kept him ONE DAY. They perhaps didn’t understand that shelter dogs are not perfect.
    They are abused or abandoned or ignored…..they aren’t already house broken and they don’t know commands or house manners. they may still have their puppy chewing habits which is like kids sucking their thumbs for comfort at 10 years old. I had a pair of sandals chewed to shreds today at Tunica Humane Society by 2 dogs who are living their comfortably while they heal….I changed into muck shoes to help out back and left my sandals. These were adult dogs…….anyway again I digress.

    Bentley was 2 years old – NOT FIVE. There is NO NO NO evidence that he ever bit anyone MALE OR FEMALE before being picked up by the shelter. He barked. Neighbors were afraid. The ONE day adoption ended badly and the maleadopter returned the dog saying the dog snapped at him and bit him…..but when asked to file a charge the family refused…the man didn’t have any bite marks on him from what I am told by a former shelter employee….they just decided they didn’t want to take in a dog that needed to be socialized for the first time at 2 years old.

    Who is this STEVE person and where did he get his evidence and is English his first language? If it is he needs to go back to grade school.
    We are waiting for the Certified Professional Dog Trainer to evaluate Bentley. WE think he or she will find that Bentley was never socialized at all. He doesn’t know human affection and his time in the SHELTER was a time in hell. It will take longer to socialize him. Would I take him into my home? No. I have two dogs with issues and two cats…one is elderly. I need to give them all some peace. I take in fosters very frequently……I can’t take in one that needs a lot of care. If I lived alone or only had dogs maybe I’d give it a good try.
    Shame you banned Steve. I’d love to know where he got his information.

    Reply
  11. Julia Bell

     /  October 18, 2012

    i wish I could edit my former comments. Their to there. and some typos goodness

    Reply
  12. I can promise you that steve is low level shelter janitor or the brother or hubby of someone at the shelter. uauauu

    Reply
  13. Jessica C

     /  October 18, 2012

    Wow. So many thoughts on this.

    1- This shelter director is crazy for thinking this is okay. If I were an animal in a shelter, I’d be frightened enough, let alone being starved without any social interaction. Biting would be the least of my inflictions lol.
    2- Thank you Julia for letting us know what’s going on. I too hope this lady is fired and this other lady steps in. So it sounds like he is doing okay then? Getting fed? I don’t know, obviously.
    3- Steve is ridiculous. People like him is what is wrong with our shelter systems today.

    Reply
  14. Adriana

     /  October 19, 2012

    “Lynn currently works for the Horn Lake Police Department where he serves as the K9 unit’s trainer and a dual narcotics K9 handler. Lynn previously worked for Horn Lake PD for 15 years moving up the ranks to lieutenant. Over his career, Lynn has been assigned to the DUI Unit, K9 Unit, and the Tactical Unit. He is credited for establishing the current footprint of the K9 unit. When Lynn took over the unit in 1994 it was staffed with one handler who worked two single purpose dogs. Under Lynn’s supervision the unit increased to four dual purpose teams. Lynn built an eight week basic police canine course for Horn Lake PD, which has been attended by agencies from northern Mississippi, western Tennessee and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

    From 2007 until 2011 Lynn left Horn Lake PD and went to work for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, NC as a K9 trainer. Lynn trained dual explosive K9 teams for special operations, as well, as deployed overseas in support of the global war on terror as the commands K9 subject matter expert. Some of the other duties included the selection of new canine candidates testing dogs here in the U.S. and across Europe. While with the special operations command Lynn also had the chance to work with other K9 teams from the U.S. Military, U.S. Federal Law Enforcement and several of our nation’s foreign allies.”(http://vigilantcanine.com/law-enforcement-program/lep-trainers/)

    Reply
  15. When this whole thing started, I was given two choices by the DIRECTOR OF HLAS..Withhold food from Bentley for 8 straight days or he would have to be euthanized because he was too aggressive. I am happy to report that both of those outcomes were wrong and that Bentley is now SAFE! I am not an animal behaviorist, but I know the difference between right and wrong..and apparently, so do all of you! If you are able to help financially towards Bentley’s progress, there is a ChipIn that has been made for him Organized by 911 for Dogs.

    “Bentley left Horn Lake Animal Shelter yesterday after been evaluated by Elta Woodliff, a nationallly Certified Professional Animal Trainer. I personally witnessed the evaluation which was extremely thorough, and we discussed Bentley at length. It was her recommendation that Bentley NOT be euthanized based upon her evaluation and Shelter Director Frances Williams released Bentley to rescue who took him immediately to a Memphis area Veterinarian’s office for vetting and care.

    Due to the fact that there is supposedly an on-going investigation by the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, I cannot give any more detail than this at the present time. However, I will say that Bentley’s journey is just beginning and he continues to need your prayers and financial support.

    A chip-in to SAVE BENTLEY has been set up at” http://911fordogs.chipin.com/save-bentle

    Reply
    • I am so glad to hear this news. I pray lessons have been learned and that form of treatment/abuse is never tried again. WTG “Bentley” I’ll be sharing the chip-in.. thanks for the update.

      Reply
    • Could you please add the dogs picture to the chip-in? Also add his story. When I clicked on the link there was an error. Thanks

      Reply
  16. To everyone who thinks that it is wrong to starve a dog for 8 days…Please Keep writing emails to the Mayor (amullen@hornlake.org) and Chief of Police (dwhaley@hornlakepolice.com) and tell them that it is wrong! We need to know that Frances Williams will be penalized..We need to know that there is going to be a Positive Change at this shelter! Why haven’t we heard a statement from the Mayor? ITS BEEN A WEEK! NO NEWS YET!? Please help!

    Reply
  17. Nana

     /  October 23, 2012

    Doubt that you will get an answer from Mr. Mayor. Unless there is a photo opportunity available. They do seem to favor being in the limelight in favorable setting. Seems to the H L ‘s operating procedure. See no evil, hear no evil, speak not.

    I too am waiting for an answer on a strong complaint to him about the city’s lack of due diligence that has caused a great problem. One has to suspect that the reason the e-mails must be addressed to his assistant is that they can be trashed or ignored.

    Reply

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