Abuse Continued Unreported by Memphis Shelter Workers

Abuse Continued Unreported by Memphis Shelter Workers

There's new information about an abuse investigation at the troubled Memphis Animal Shelter. Two shelter workers are under state investigation. They're accused of witnessing animals being choked and killed at the shelter, and not reporting it.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There's new information about an abuse investigation at the troubled Memphis Animal Shelter. Two shelter workers are under state investigation. They're accused of witnessing animals being choked and killed at the shelter, and not reporting it.

The complaint was filed by a citizen who was furious that shelter bosses did nothing about it.

A simple item used in other shelters might have prevented this. That said, it's hard to imagine anyone could watch animals being attacked, but not report it. What's even harder to believe is that the shelter employees accused of witnessing it are still on the job.

Over the years you've heard the horror stories and seen the "caught on camera" images of Memphis Animal Shelter employees mistreating animals.

Last fall two shelter employees pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. They admitted to choking, hanging and stomping dogs to death inside the euthanasia room.

What you may not know, courtroom testimony revealed two additional shelter workers witnessed the horrific events, although they were never charged with a crime.

Animal lover Ona Cooper was so upset she filed a state complaint, hoping the shelter workers' state licenses will be revoked and they'll be forced out.

"I was appalled that anyone would witness it and not speak up, especially being shelter workers," she said. "If the staff that had seen it reported it immediately then the abuse wouldn't have continued."

We tried to ask the shelter's administrator, James Rogers, why the employees haven't been fired.

"That's something I can't discuss," he said, citing the fact another former employee's trial is next month. "There is another person that has to go through a trial and anything we say concerning that could influence that trial. We will not discuss it."

The abuse may not have happened at all if a camera had been placed in the euthanasia room, but shelter bosses won't even consider that.

"Who are they protecting? Are they protecting the workers that could be doing wrong?" asked animal advocate Cindy Sanders.

Rogers stated, "It was decided at the advisory board meeting that cameras would not be in the euthanasia room."

Memphis won't do it, but Nashville does. Judy Ladebauche is the Director of the Nashville Animal Shelter.

"It's probably the most important room to have a camera in, in my opinion," she said.

Ladebauche says the camera not only protects the animals, but the employees.

"If someone were to say, 'Well, I think he was too rough with this animal,' or something, we can pull it up. We'll know if there was an issue."

Cooper wants a camera in the MAS euthanasia room. "There should be one in there, especially with their history."

It may never happen, but she hopes at least these two employees lose their state licenses and their jobs.

"I hope that something happens to the employees and that it sends a message to all the shelter workers in Tennessee that if you witness a crime at the shelter you must report it."

We asked to speak to the two shelter employees or get a statement, but no surprise they aren't talking.

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