Animal advocates protest at Wharton's campaign headquarters - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Animal advocates protest at Wharton's campaign headquarters

(WMC-TV) - Animal lovers frustrated with a host of issues at the Memphis Animal Shelter protested at Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's celebratory campaign kickoff Saturday.

As Wharton worked to focus on his successes in 18 months, protestors with SOS Memphis worked to show their frustrations.

"There's too many web cam images of the employees mistreating the animals," said Jan Courtney with SOS Memphis.

After three dogs died from starvation at the shelter in 2009, the city installed live web cams so anyone could watch what was happening at the shelter.  Courtney said she is upset at talk those cameras may be removed.

"That is abominable," she said.

Wharton said he has not made a decision yet about the cameras.

"I see what the employees are saying, it's every moment," said Wharton.  "If they stick their finger in their ear, the whole world sees them do that, and no one else in city government has to do that."

Protestors with SOS Memphis wore photos taken from inside the shelter, which they said show abuse of animals.

"Even on camera they still treat animals like this," said animal advocate Eric Hart.  "I shudder to imagine what it would be like with them knowing no one is watching."

"I think A C is a great mayor," said animal advocate Roger Ross.  "I think he's done an incredible job, but I don't think on this issue he's taken it full force and done what he said he would do."

That impression is leading many in the group to push for privatizing the shelter, which is something Wharton said the Rotary Club will study.

"It could be the same way Brooks Museum is operated, the zoo," he said.  "The city doesn't operate that, it's a not for profit entity."

Animal advocates were angered after shelter employee Demetria Hogan abused two dogs.  A veterinarian said Max, a lab mix, died of non-accidental heat exhaustion.

Kapone, a pit bull in Hogan's care, is still missing.  Hogan is charged with two counts of animal cruelty and has been fired from the shelter.

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