Officials to ask for new 'operations manager' position at animal shelter

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Officials with the Memphis Animal Shelter started the long process Tuesday of fixing damage done at the facility.  The road to transforming the shelter from a place where investigators found dogs starved to death to a place of comfort will likely be difficult.

The Animal Services Board voted unanimously Tuesday to ask the Memphis City Council to create a new position at the shelter: a facility operations manager, who would be paid around $50,000.

That's just one of many steps to try to turn the shelter around.

"I think that the frustration exists as a result of past history if you will," said Dr. Janet Hooks, Director of Public Services for Memphis. "We have to be allowed to move forward. It is going to take some time."

Animal Services Board Members said Tuesday they were concerned about systems in place at the shelter, after an adopted dog was euthanized for distemper without its future owners being notified.

"Is there anything else being done besides the dot system?" one member asked.

"I think it goes back to making sure people are conscientious," Hooks replied.

Mayor A C Wharton says the recent euthanization of two dogs, which didn't follow procedure, is one reason the shelter is closed for training this week.  Wharton's even received threats because of the animal shelter.

"I trust our police officers and I'll leave that to them," he said.

Wharton is expected to appoint a shelter administrator within the next couple of weeks.   His appointment of an interim animal control officer with more than two dozen run-ins with the law drew criticism. Demetria Hogan is part of the prisoner re-entry program.

"There are two employees at the shelter who many years ago had some issues, but it is absolutely not true that it is those two employees who are causing any issues at the shelter," Hooks said.

One board member said the only real solution to the shelter's problems is getting a city ordinance passed that requires people to spay and neuter their pets.   The ordinance failed when brought before the city council last spring.

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