In recent months, Memphis Animal Services has been plagued by negative press. In late June, the shelter supposedly lost the pit bull Kapone, a family pet that was picked up by animal control officers when he escaped his backyard. Before that, animal advocates monitoring the shelter's webcams have caught employees improperly handling a dog and placing puppies into a trash can.
Now In Defense of Animals, a national nonprofit aimed at ending animal cruelty and abuse, has turned the spotlight on Memphis Animal Services. The organization issued a action alert on its website outlining the following concerns and asking members to flood the shelter with phone calls.
From the In Defense of Animals alert:
We are concerned about reports indicating that things have gotten worse, not better. These reports include:
* Webcams installed for "transparency" indicate major issues concerning inhumane treatment of animals, including dogs lifted by catch poll to an elevated cage and dogs dragged through shelter hallways by catch poll.
* Multiple animals in the euthanasia room watching euthanasia of other animals, a clear violation of AVMA guidelines and generally-accepted humane procedure.
* Animal Control Officers are not enforcing humane laws — after 5:00 p.m. cruelty calls are answered by an already overburdened and undertrained (in humane laws) Memphis Police Department.
* No pre-euthanasia sedation given to the animals unless they are already agitated.
* Little or no staff accountability — no review process in place or in use.
Last week, the Shoup family, Kapone's owners, offered a $3,000 reward for his return. Memphis Public Services director Janet Hooks issued a statement claiming a review of the shelter's records and video security log leads them to believe that Kapone was never sheltered there. Yet dispatch records indicated that two dogs were picked up in the area near the Shoup's residence. Their other pit bull was processed at the shelter, and the family picked it up.