MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Records show at least three dogs were starved to death at the city-operated Memphis Animal Shelter. The Commercial Appeal reported details of a search warrant executed last week were made public Tuesday.
The raid by Shelby County Sheriff's officers came after a whistleblower complained animals were being mistreated.
Citing records, the newspaper reported a female mixed breed puppy that was brought to the shelter in August died within three weeks of what was described as "non-accidental starvation." A veterinarian said the dog had lost one-quarter of her body weight.
District Attorney Bill Gibbons said criminal charges are possible in the case.
City animal services administrator Ernest Alexander and 10 shelter employees were relieved of duty, but Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said Tuesday that the employees are back on the job as he awaits an internal investigation about shelter operations.
"I can't say at this point whether they did everything right or did everything wrong until I get the results, which I will have at the end of the week," said Wharton
Wharton said that volunteers are providing an "additional layer of oversight" over the employees.
Deputies seized 17 boxes of documents, four computers, six CDs or DVDs, empty dog food bags and two cell phones, according to the warrant.
Among the potential charges are aggravated cruelty to animals, official misconduct and tampering with or fabricating evidence, which could result from dogs being held for court that were allowed to die, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Photos of the emaciated dog were taken by the tipster, who repeatedly brought the dog's condition to the attention of shelter employees, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Steve Shular. A necropsy showed that the puppy hadn't eaten in at least 72 hours.
According to the warrant, volunteers at the shelter had sent numerous e-mails to the administrator, as well as Division of Public Services and Neighborhoods director Kenneth Moody, warning that animals were in poor condition.
Moody retired from the position in July.
(Comment from dellbabe68: I want to say that I personally have seen dogs fed twice a day by shelter staff and still be very thin. Though this story appears to have a different circumstance, as evidenced by the necropsy performed, it should be noted how much the stress of being in a shelter can have on a dog's weight. Mr. Willie, for example, is fed well and I feed him myself each time I see him (three times a week) and yet he is very thin. Stress makes a number of dogs remain very thin in a shelter environment.)
Might want to pen a letter or make a call to the Memphis shelter (note: there only seems to be one municipal shelter in Memphis), letting them know they need to be more mindful, not to mention get rid of incompetent staff. I cannot help reading their website and picturing a 1950's-styled shelter, just like Yonkers Animal Shelter. I do have to wonder why they would not have acted on the volunteer's tip that some dogs were looking underweight. I can tell you, if a dog at YAS was looking sick, limping, looked underweight, or whatever, about ten people would report it to the shelter director and it would be acted upon immediately. That's assuming the staff wouldn't notice it themselves, which happens plenty. But having many eyes looking after the dogs is good because it is hard to keep track of over 100 animals at one time.
Please be firm but considerate and of course, do not threaten any staff. Just let them know you are keeping an eyeball on them via the news. Ask how this could have happened.
Memphis Animal Services
3456 Tchulahoma Road
Memphis, TN 38118
Phone: (901) 362-5310
TTY: (901) 576-6501
Who we are
Memphis Animal Services, or "Animal Shelter" as we are often called, has been around since the early 1950's providing animal services to the City of Memphis and Shelby County. Although primarily a municipal animal care and control department for the City of Memphis, the service center (shelter) does provide for housing and other related animal services for animals from Shelby County. Our mantra has always been protecting people from the dangers and nuisances of uncontrolled animals and keeping animals safe from mistreatment and abuse. Promoting, motivating and enforcing responsible pet ownership is our number one goal.
xoxo (though also with some saddess over this one)