MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton named an Interim Administrator for the city's embattled animal shelter on Wednesday.
James Rogers, formerly a Senior Manager for Customer Service Operations with the U.S. Postal Service, will serve at the Memphis Animal Services' new shelter facility on Appling City Cove.
Wharton's office stated that Rogers, a Memphis native and graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College, has expertise in operations, logistics, and administration.
Mayor Wharton remarked, "I wanted to bring someone in with a business and management background – someone with strong leadership qualities who is very experienced and comfortable in operating a major facility and overseeing a large staff. Mr. Rogers fits the bill perfectly, and I am delighted that he was willing to accept our offer to serve in this capacity."
The city's shelter has been under constant scrutiny for mismanagement and mistreatment of animals. In 2009, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office raided the shelter after dogs starved to death. Several employees were criminally charged. The shelter is currently under investigation by Memphis police for allegations of starved and mistreated animals.
The city put out a nationwide search to privatize the city animal shelter, but City Public Services and Neighborhoods director Janet Hooks said no group came to a mandatory meeting on the proposal Jan. 12 and it's now off the table.
Critics of the shelter and animal rights activists have called Wharton's attempts at privatizing and improving the facility "half-hearted," saying the animals ultimately suffer from the shelter's problems
Cindy Sanders, a member of the group S.O.S. Memphis, said, "Citizens in steadily increasing numbers are becoming more and more concerned."
Upon the announcement of Rogers' appointment as Interim Administrator, Wharton stated, "We have reduced the euthanasia rate to a 20% lower level when comparing 2011 with 2009. In one day, we moved every pet from the old facility to the new shelter. In our new facility, we have installed some 45 cameras that are linked to Memphis Police's award-winning Real-Time Crime Center. Along the way, we have been able to root out irresponsible employees and fix broken internal systems."
Wharton added, "While I admit there is still much work to be done, we cannot ignore the fact that we have made significant, measurable progress at the Memphis Animal Shelter. I only hope that we can continue to see even more engagement from citizens who want to come and adopt one of the beautiful animals from the shelter."