Ernest Alexander out at Memphis Animal Shelter - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ernest Alexander out at Memphis Animal Shelter; web cameras go online

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton continued with sweeping changes at the Memphis Animal Shelter Friday, announcing the firing of Animal Services Director Ernest Alexander.

Wharton cited poor performance by Alexander that led to the firing, including inadequate administrative oversite, lack of documentation, and missing original paperwork pertaining to animals at the shelter.

"These are areas that we believe led to some of the unacceptable conditions here," Wharton said. "If you don't have the paperwork, then you didn't do it."

Under Ernest Alexander's leadership, some say the shelter became a place where dogs weren't sheltered, rather tortured through starvation. Last month, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies raided the shelter after a whistle blower provided proof of animal starvation there. A search warrant, released earlier this week, showed proof in the form of pictures of a dog that allegedly starved to death in matter of weeks after being admitted to the shelter.

On top of that, Wharton said, an employee put a dog down this week without following procedure.

"I am not an expert on this but I tell you what, I can tell you if it's clean or its dirty," Wharton said. "I can tell you the difference between a pet that's been fed, and one that's been loved and not loved."

Wharton said Darrell Eldridge would be appointed temporary facilities manager at the facility, and Lucy Shaw would act as a consultant.  Eldridge works in general services for the city of Memphis, while Shaw is a former CEO at The Med.

After a brief first, hour tour inside the shelter, Shaw said she noticed the dogs have already been segregated better.  But she is still trying to assess the facility itself and determine basic operational procedures, such as job descriptions, responsibilities, and standards.

"Assessment, that is the key. A global assessment of what we're doing, what we need to do differently immediately and what we need to do differently long term," she said.

One long term change that was promised after Wharton took office has already happened.  Friday, the city of Memphis launched a new website that allows visitors to view 11 live cameras that update with new images every 30 seconds.  The images will be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.  CLICK HERE to view the webcams.

Wharton's office also released a document labeled "City of Memphis Animal Shelter: The Way Forward."  CLICK HERE to download the document.

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