Thursday, November 5, 2009

What the Hell is Wrong with the Memphis Animal Shelter?

I went to the candlelight vigil at the Memphis Animal Shelter tonight for the poor dog that was starved to death. I would say there were 200-300 people there. The poster-dog for this protest is a 5-month old Pit Bull-lab mix, now nicknamed "Justice." She was seized as part of an animal cruelty case and put in a cage at the animal shelter marked, "Hold for Court." Just about two weeks later, she was dead. A necropsy done by an outside veterinarian indicates the puppy was intentionally starved to death.

It's pictures of "Justice" released by the Shelby County Sheriff's Department along with the search warrant that incited so many people to come out on a chilly November evening and risk their lives to park along Tchulahoma and Winchester in that rather scary area where the shelter is located. The pictures of "Justice" printed in the Commercial Appeal this week...the first one showed a friendly-looking young white dog with a goofy spot over one eye--a dog that looked young enough to be rehabilitated, maybe even be adopted by a family looking for a pet. But unfortunately "Justice" would never get that chance... On the same page, the paper printed another picture of "Justice," showing an emaciated husk of a dog shortly before her death. If you saw that second picture, it haunts your dreams. I won't post it here because I need to be able to sleep tonight. But if you want to see it and read more about the raid on the animal shelter, you can go to

The protest was a low-key affair. We held candles as cars drove by and honked. At times someone would start a chant such as "Fire them all!" But the chants would usually die out, as the crowd was motivated and sincere, but not very organized. No one gave any speeches, but several reporters showed up. Newschannel 3's Tom Powell did a live shot during the 6 o'clock news. After that, Mayor Wharton's top aide, Bobby White, appeared and began to speak individually to some members of the crowd. I give the new Mayor points for sending White to represent him at the vigil. It's the sort of thing that Mayor Herenton would never have done. Heck, he seldom even showed up at city-sponsored events! I heard later on the 10 o'clock news that Mayor Wharton plans to make an announcement regarding the Animal Shelter at a news conference at 10 tomorrow morning. Let's hope he makes a lasting change that really makes a difference in the way these animals are treated. Because no creature on this earth deserves to die the way "Justice" did.


  1. Nice account of the vigil, how do you feel about a spay and neuter ordinance?

  2. A strong spay/neuter ordinance would perhaps help to cut down on the vast number of unwanted puppies and kittens that are being born. The only problem is that any ordinance is only good if it is strictly enforced. Since Animal Services is so under-funded, it's hard to see how they would enforce such a law, even if the administrators in charge actually wanted to do so.

    It also opens the door to even more graft and corruption, since there is so much money to be made in the breeding of so-called "bully dogs." Obviously, these underground dog breeding and fighting organizations could afford to pay an animal enforcement officer to look the other way. I don't know how to overcome that.

    I have a little more hope that we will eventually convince the many "backyard" and unintentional breeders to stop the practice of breeding just so their children can witness "the miracle of birth," or worse yet, so their dog can have the blessed experience of whelping puppies. Anyone who has ever seen a poor mother dog run away from her own nursing puppies (with them chasing after!)knows that most dogs would be just as happy if they are spared that experience. If we can convince dog owners who are truly animal lovers of this, I think they will be more likely to have the animals spayed and neutered. But that still leaves the many "backyard" breeders who think they can make a quick buck by breeding and selling dogs on a small scale. As long as people are willing to pay big $ for puppies, that practice will continue...just check out the many classified ads for puppies in the Commercial Appeal.


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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Cute, fluffy, and not afraid to leave a mess on the sidewalk!