Stayin’ Alive 

Memphis Pets Alive helps save shelter animals from euthanasia.

It's Tuesday night at Memphis Animal Services, and five volunteers armed with cameras are going kennel to kennel, bribing pups of all shapes and sizes with treats and squeaky toys in exchange for a photograph.

The photos of everything from pit bull puppies to full-grown labs to cats and kittens were uploaded to the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page on Wednesday in an effort to find homes for the animals.

Memphis Pets Alive volunteers have dubbed the Tuesday photo sessions "Wag-Along Tuesday," and new pictures are taken and uploaded every week. The group, made up of about 25 volunteers, was founded in March with the goal of saving as many animals from euthanasia as possible.

"Our intention is to build our own adoption facility and start pulling animals off the euthanasia list," said volunteer Ona Cooper. "Since we don't have a facility yet, we thought the best thing we could do is come here and take pictures and give the animals as much exposure as possible."

Memphis Pets Alive is modeled after Austin Pets Alive, a nonprofit group that helped the city-run Austin Animal Shelter convert to a no-kill facility. "No-kill" means 90 percent of the animals are saved from euthanasia. Only terminally ill and dangerous animals are put to sleep in no-kill shelters.

Besides opening an adoption center, Memphis Pets Alive has a larger goal of helping Memphis Animal Services (MAS) move to a no-kill model.

Cooper said the group will begin fund-raising for the no-kill adoption center soon. Until and after it's up and running, they'll continue Wag-Along Tuesday.

Although the shelter uploads photos of some animals to Pet Harbor, a national pet adoption website, not every adoptable animal is shown there. Memphis Pets Alive photographs every animal in the adoption area and the "healthy hold" area, where animals are held before they're placed up for adoption.

MAS director James Rogers said Memphis Pets Alive is making a difference.

"We know for certain that people have seen animals on their website and come here to adopt them," Rogers said. "It's a very good partnership as far as improving our positive outcomes for the animals."

Rogers said the shelter's "live release rate," which measures the number of animals that have been adopted or transferred out of MAS, was at 36 percent for the year so far. The shelter's euthanasia rate for the year to date is 63 percent.

Rogers won't go so far as to say he's open to MAS converting to a no-kill shelter, but he says the more adoptions, the better.

"My vision is that one day, our adoptions will outnumber our euthanasia number," Rogers said.

He does support Memphis Pets Alive's plan to open their own no-kill adoption center though.

"If they had a location where they could come and pull adoptable animals that are about to be euthanized, we'd be all for that," Rogers said.

Anyone interested in volunteering to photograph animals with Memphis Pets Alive on Wag-Along Tuesday can email info@memphispetsalive.org. A digital camera with a memory card is preferred. Go to facebook.com/MemphisPetsAlive to view pictures of adoptable animals.

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