Animal Advocates Address Animal Services Board about Shelter Problems

Animal Advocates Address Animal Services Board about Shelter Problems

Tempers are flaring over the problems at the Memphis Animal Services Shelter.
MEMPHIS, TN - Tempers are flaring over the problems at the Memphis Animal Services Shelter. Two weeks after a distemper outbreak that led to mass euthanizations at the shelter, people packed a meeting Wednesday night with their own ideas how to fix the place.

This is a passionate issue, and a lot of people get emotional when you talk about killing animals. 11,906 dogs and cats were euthanized last year. Amidst all the division about what to do, people are trying to come up with solutions.

People packed this meeting room at the Central Library to share their concerns.

“What is wrong with this city that we cannot deal with the most vulnerable in our community?” asked animal advocate Michelle Buckalew.

A long list of rescue groups were represented there, but it's hardly enough to save the thousands of animals killed at the shelter each year.

The tension was thick, between board members and the crowd and between board members themselves.

People brought in pictures from webcams posted throughout the shelter of employees mishandling dogs.

The issues didn't start when Matthew Pepper took over at the shelter. He says he knows there are a lot of problems and says he's working on fixing them.

One board member called for unity and praised progress at the shelter.

“We need a cheerleader,” said John Cox.

Meanwhile, citizens called for action.

“I am not going to criticize the shelter,” said Gail Phillips of “Spay in the City.” “I’m going to criticize all of us in this room because there are things out there we can start doing.”

One of the big issues brought up again and again was the number of animals the public can see for adoption. People complained most are hidden.

Also discussed, what to do about the huge number of unvaccinated animals in our community and how to handle court cases of owners who break spay and neuter laws. The list goes on and on.

Pepper said 127 animals were affected in the distemper outbreak.

The Memphis Animal Services Advisory Board meets every month at the Central Library.

A lot of people hope the new shelter will address some of the issues discussed. The finishing touches are being put on the new facility. It's just off Appling Rd. near I-40.

The new shelter will have a quarantine area that the current shelter does not. It's about twice the size of the current shelter, with a limited number of additional cages.

It's set to open this summer.

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