On October 11, a dog owner in Memphis was charged with aggravated animal cruelty after an ACO responded to a complaint and found one dead dog and one emaciated dog without food or water. The emaciated dog, an adult German Shepherd Dog called Rosie, was impounded. She weighed just 39 pounds.
The MAS vet completed a forensic exam on Rosie, vaccinated and dewormed her. Besides having been starved, Rosie appears to have been otherwise healthy.
On October 23, Memphis Animal Services killed Rosie, despite having plenty of empty cages at the facility. There are no notes indicating any GSD rescues – or any rescues at all – were contacted. To my knowledge, Rosie was never posted on Facebook or Petfinder nor was she housed in an area of the pound where adopters could meet her.
Let me be clear: I do not approve of animal abuse in any form, including starvation. In this case, Rosie’s options were to remain in the care of someone who was severely neglecting her or go to a pound that would kill her. Neither of these options is acceptable. Rosie had a right to live. She deserved to be placed in an environment where that right would be respected. The bottom line is, the alleged animal abuser did what MAS failed to do – keep Rosie alive. And as repulsive as the thought may be, she might have been better off being left with the owner. Maybe she could have escaped and been picked up by a compassionate stranger. Maybe the owner would have gotten tired of her and given Rosie to someone who would have taken care of her. Maybe a friend or family member of the owner would have intervened and made sure Rosie was fed and loved. Where there’s life, there’s hope.
Some will say that a “humane death” is better than a drawn-out death due to starvation. The problem with that line of thinking is two-fold: 1. We do not know for certain Rosie would have starved to death had she not been impounded by MAS. 2. Neither of these scenarios – humane death vs. agonizing death – takes into consideration Rosie’s right to live. It is a false choice. We are morally bound to offer Rosie, and every other pet, an option which includes respecting her inherent value and right to live. MAS refuses to consider that option. Therefore I would argue that tragically, MAS would better serve the community’s pets by leaving them in situations of neglect and hoping for the possibility of a good outcome. Because there will definitely be no good outcome if the animal goes to MAS.
If anyone in Shelby Co is willing to take legal action on behalf of the pets at MAS, please let me know. You have my support.