Friday, August 12, 2011

Animal Shelter Director Resigns

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2011 at 8:03 AM

Matthew Pepper
  • Matthew Pepper

On the same day controversy arose over webcam screenshots of two pit bulls fighting inside Memphis Animal Services, news broke of Memphis Animal Services director Matthew Pepper's resignation.

Video from the pit bull altercation showed that shelter workers were trying to separate the dogs rather than encourage them to fight, but before the city could respond, rumors of dogfighting in the animal shelter had already circulated around the internet. Pepper put in his resignation on Wednesday, before the images were released.

Pepper's year-and-a-half long career in Memphis has been plagued with problems, some due to speculation over what was happening in webcam screenshots like the one released yesterday and some due to employee misconduct. In June, animal control officer Demetria Hogan lost pit bull Kapone, a family pet that had escaped a Cordova backyard. She was arrested for animal cruelty, and there's an $8,000 reward for Kapone's return.

In his resignation letter, Pepper said "it has become prudent that I find stability in my career and in my personal life." Currently, the Memphis Rotary Club is conducting an audit of the shelter, and there have been talks of privitization.

Pepper took over the shelter in 2009, after former director Ernie Alexander was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals. Before he moved to Memphis, he managed Caddo Parish Animal Services in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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