Memphis Animal Shelter Head Blames Data Error for High Kennel Deaths

Memphis Animal Shelter Head Blames Data Error for High Kennel Deaths

There's more trouble at the Memphis Animal Shelter, this time it's over dozens and dozens of dogs dying in their kennels. No one at the shelter was even paying attention to the problem until ABC 24 Senior Reporter Jeni Diprizio started asking questions.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There's more trouble at the Memphis Animal Shelter, this time it's over dozens and dozens of dogs dying in their kennels. No one at the shelter was even paying attention to the problem until ABC 24 Senior Reporter Jeni Diprizio started asking questions.

You would think with the history of problems at the Memphis Animal Shelter, someone would be keeping a real close eye on things. But that wasn't the case when it came to the number of animals being found dead in their cages.

Cats and dogs are rarely found dead in their cages at the Nashville Animal Shelter. Last year it happened 24 times. The shelter takes in slightly fewer animals than Memphis.

Nashville Shelter Administrator Judy Ladebauche says at the end of every shift, employees walk through to check on the animals.

"We have very few that we actually find deceased in their kennel," she said. "Those walk-throughs are so important - actually stop and look in each cage and not just go chat with a friend as you walk through; you have got to stop and look at this animal and see what's going on."

It's a very different story in Memphis. According to the official shelter statistics, last year 136 animals were found dead in their cages. But Shelter Administrator James Rogers dismissed that number, saying it was really 43.

"Some of the entries, as far as animals dying in their kennel, were in correct," he said, calling it a data entry error. "Some of the technicians, some of the clerks, would select 'died in kennel' as opposed to saying specifically how the animal died or where it expired."

Rogers said until ABC 24 started asking questions, no one was paying attention to the number of animals listed as "dead in kennel".

"No, that's a statistic we hadn't looked at to say this is high or this is low," Rogers admitted.

Animal advocates, like Cindy Sanders, don't understand why no one was keeping an eye on the number of animals found dead in their kennels when it's listed on a monthly report.

"It's not an animal issue, I think it's a reflection of how the city functions on a whole," she noted. "Is it indifference towards the animals or towards their job? Is it laziness?"

To help reduce the number of animals dying in their cages, we're told Memphis Animal Shelter employees started doing extra checks of the animals three weeks ago, right after we started asking questions.

According to Rogers, "You brought it up in your television report and it's something we need to focus on."

Rogers says now that shelter workers are paying attention, fewer animals will be found dead in their cages.

"I think that since we have focus on it now, I know that it will reduce."

The city has used the "data entry error" excuse before. Last time it was when we asked about the high number of animals listed as missing or being lost in the shelter. Whether it's one animal, 43 or 136, animal advocates say someone should have been paying attention.

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