In April 2011, the Memphis shelter advisory board was a very different entity than it is today. At that time, the board chair not only upheld the open meetings law but welcomed the public into the meetings. Veterinarian Stephen Tower was a member at that time. He is now chairman and, along with the head of the “Friends” group and others who defend the abuse and killing at MAS, the board has illegally, in my view, shut the public out of most meetings, opening them up only a few times a year. Even then, the public is only permitted to speak if Dr. Tower allows it.
During the April 2011 meeting, the subject of sedatives prior to fatal injections was discussed. Advocates were requesting that sedatives be administered to all animals being killed at MAS. Dr. Tower responded:
When I was on the task force, I went out there December two years ago and witnessed the gentlemen performing the euthanasias and they were technically performing them in the manner in which it should be done. It wasn’t an easy thing to see, the room was sort of inadequate and I really look forward to getting into the new shelter for a number of reasons and that’s one reason. And they did use tranquilizers in cases where they needed to tranquilize an animal that was being fractious…
Watch the video here.
He doesn’t say which “gentlemen” he watched killing pets at MAS but possibly it was Archie Elliott and/or Frank Lightfoot, both of whom have confessed in court to torturing pets in the kill room. Specifically, Archie Elliott is quoted as saying to a scared dog slated for killing, “I know how to take care of this. This is my sedation.”, as he proceeded to hang the dog over a sink by a noose. Is this Dr. Tower’s idea of “the manner in which it should be done”? I don’t know and he’s made sure that no one can ask him.
In anticipation of angry pet advocates exercising their rights at the upcoming shelter advisory board meeting next week, Dr. Tower has bravely cancelled the public meeting, opting instead to hide in an undisclosed location while he and the rest of the board have a secret “work session”. Because he can.
Similarly, the pound keeps killing healthy and treatable animals. Because it can. The workers at MAS force pets to suffer. Because they can.
The way forward for those who value the lives of shelter pets in Memphis is as clear today as it ever has been: Someone must wage a political campaign for reform, taking meaningful action to demand no kill. It will be a difficult and frustrating endeavor – one that will probably take years given the apparent widespread cronyism and corruption within city government. But I believe it is achievable. And besides, what other ethical choice is there?
If anyone is willing to engage in such a political campaign, there is immediate and future support available. You will not be in this alone.
1. There is a guide taking you through the process step by step.
2. Christie Keith, renowned journalist and media expert, has generously offered her assistance.
3. Reader Denise is heading to Mayor Wharton’s office on Monday to demand accountability. Join her.
4. This blog will support you by publicizing your efforts and I will do anything in my power to help, offline and online.
The no kill community is fiercely loyal and if anyone in Memphis is willing to engage in a political campaign to force those who have enabled the abuse and killing to finally put the misery to an end, we have your back.
The person is you. The time is now. If not you and not now, it will be no one, ever. The pets being hurt and killed at MAS can’t wait anymore. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it needs doing. Do it because you can.