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Shelter conditions lead to firing in Memphis

memphisdogThis photo helped authorities in Shelby County, Tennessee get the search warrant that was used in a predawn raid that led to the temporary closure of the Memphis Animal Shelter two weeks ago.

The raid followed allegations of mismanagement, mistreatment of animals and improper euthanizations.

The mayor of Memphis, A C  Wharton, fired Animal Services Director Ernest Alexander Friday — a day after residents held a candlelight vigil at the facility.

“I am not an expert on (animal shelters), but I tell you what, I can walk in here and tell you whether it is clean or dirty,” Wharton said Friday during a news conference at the shelter. “I can tell you the difference between a pet that has been fed and cared for and loved and not loved.”

Wharton’s decision to fire Alexander came after shelter employees improperly euthanized a dog and preliminary results of a city investigation showed the facility had been mismanaged, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

In addition to Alexander’s termination, three other shelter employees remain suspended with pay until the city investigation is complete.

Last week, Wharton established a committee to review the shelter’s operations and installed surveillance cameras that the public can access online. Members of the committee will monitor the shelter daily.

Public pressure for Wharton to take action at the shelter — long criticized by animal rights activists — has been building since Shelby County sheriff’s deputies raided the facility last week.

The puppy in the photo was admitted to the Memphis Animal Shelter Aug. 18, and died Sept. 4.  A necropsy showed the dog hadn’t eaten in at least 72 hours.

Comments

Comment from bluhawkk
Time November 9, 2009 at 11:22 am

Sick,sick,sick,sick.

Other words fail. Everything else is raw emotion.

Comment from Baltimoregal
Time November 9, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Heartbroken.

Comment from Sarahkate
Time November 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I can’t imagine that the good people of Memphis are allowing this to continue.

Eye for an eye would be appropriate punishment for these shelter thugs. Let them go without water and food or even a scrap of warm blanket or clothing for several days. I bet you would see a major attitude change. They still should lose their jobs and serve prison time. Why on earth are they still being paid even on suspension? Where is the DA – still hanging with his cop buddies sucking up coffee and snarfing down donuts while animals suffer like this??? There are NO punishments SEVERE enough for everyone who had a hand in this.

Comment from Gus n Wally n Miss Jan
Time November 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I looked at the cams. They don’t show what horror lives in those cages.

I say fire them all and send to prison. This is felony animal abuse. If Tennessee doesn’t consider animal abuse a felony it SHOULD.

Why isn’t this shelter closed and all of the animals sent to decent rescues who really do care about the animals? Why is the City letting this place even keep its doors open? ANY employee who even had an inkling of this level of neglect and sheer cruelty should be out on the street immediately with no job and no severance pay and BAD references. I hope every d***n one of them ends up homeless and hungry so they can understand what it is like.

Comment from Jenifer
Time November 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Someone is NOT doing their job – I’m talking about the one who hired this scumbag even though there was plenty of information about what he did at his former shelter in New Mexico. Google is an amazing tool and there is believe me plenty of info about this newly-fired shelter director out there. Sociopath doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Comment from Beth Norwood
Time November 10, 2009 at 11:16 am

Well I’m going on the air about this…I want everyone in Huntsville Alabama to know about it! I sure hope OUR animal shelter doesn’t act this way.

Comment from Emily
Time November 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Not only should these employees and the director be fired, they should also be charged with animal cruelty, the same as any another citizen. Perhaps they should receive a harsher punishment than a regular citizen though, since they were instrusted with this job and they were actually getting paid to abuse these animals! Disgusting!
The picture breaks my heart, you assume that dogs in shelters (and cats) will recive some sort of a dignified passing, however this photo shows that is not always the case. Poor baby, I hope he is finally feeling the happiness and comfort he so deserved! RIP.

Comment from Jenifer
Time November 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm

In some states and municipalities there are laws that prevent employees from being sued for this sort of thing. Even in some cases from being prosecuted. I think that not only should they be prosecuted but sued personally on behalf of the animals with the recovered monies going to help shelter animals. Only in a few states can someone sue for the emotional attachment to an animal that is injured or killed, especially deliberately–in most states one can sue the perp only for the dollar value of the animal so generally there is no recourse for either the animal or the guardian. But I think as far as shelter animals all of us who care deeply about animals have “damages” if you will when we have to see or deal with this esp. when it becomes obvious it was done deliberately. Working to change the law so that there is significant and dramatic recourse against agencies and their employees who do these things might be the long-term appropriate response to these increasing numbers of shelter abuses coming to light.

Comment from Ara
Time November 18, 2011 at 7:33 am

Are you freaking kidding me? That dog didn’t get like that in three days.

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