There was good news and bad news at Wednesday night's Memphis Animal Services (MAS) advisory board meeting. Interim shelter director James Rogers reported the euthanasia rate had dropped to 52 percent in the year to date versus 76 percent at this time last year.
But the adoption rate is also down — only 354 animals have been adopted out from January to February of this year versus 505 for the same two-month period last year. (UPDATE: For another take on the euthanasia rate and animal intake, read this post on Yes, Biscuit, which claims the numbers given at the advisory board meeting are inaccurate. The blog's author is basing this on shelter numbers she obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request).
Rogers reported that employees are currently being retrained. He said they'll be learning other methods of control besides the controversial "catch poles," which employees were seen mis-using on animals in videos posted on Yes Biscuit a few weeks ago. But Rogers did say he wouldn't do away with catch poles altogether despite an attempt by board member Don Siemer to have those poles banned. Siemer's motion died for lack of a second.
Rogers announced that plans are in the works to build an agility course for dogs, so the animals can be trained and made more adoptable. He said he planned to partner with a local Weight Watchers program to pair people looking to shed a few pounds with dogs to walk.
Rogers admitted that supervision in the shelter isn't as tight as he'd like it to be: "I'm looking to make sure our supervisors are trained. I want them to communicate up and down the corporate ladder."
Director of Public Services and Neighborhoods Janet Hooks said she'll be asking the Memphis City Council for $320,000 to hire additional animal care technicians, animal control officers, and a volunteer coordinator when the council considers the budget in April. Hooks also said the city has ordered 18 GPS devices to be installed in the animal control officers' vehicles. The devices will allow shelter administration to track officers' whereabouts.
During the meeting's public comment period, a suggestion was made to either require a vet or supervisor to oversee euthanasia procedures or to install a camera in the euthanasia room to monitor the practice. The suggestion was brought about by the recent news that three animal care technicians were witnessed (and later arrested for) abusing animals in the euthanasia room. The board eventually passed a motion requiring the city to install a closed-circuit camera in the euthanasia room.