More shake-ups likely at animal shelter after Rotary Club report

(WMC-TV) - Last week, the Memphis Rotary Club released it's 22 page evaluation of the Memphis Animal Shelter. The Rotary Club's evaluation prompted the City of Memphis to turn over the report to the District Attorney's office, after unidentified shelter employees told Rotary evaluators some staffers have ties to dog fighting rings.

"The grand jury has the authority to subpoena people and compel them to talk on the record," Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said last week.

With another potential staff shakeup on the horizon, the new animal shelter appears to be off to a shaky start. The shelter administrator's resigned in August, and according to the Rotary Club report, city officials having trouble hiring a vet because of bad publicity.

And, the Rotary Club report reveals there's not enough staff to manage the new 36,000 square foot shelter. The old, smaller shelter was so understaffed workers only had time to post 1 percent of the city's adoptable animals online.

Animals that are not adopted are eventually put to death. The city plans to keep close tabs on workers' whereabouts.

"The suggestion that we put GPS devices on the animal control officer vehicles...we will do that," Wharton said.

They are also recording video images in-house and storing them off-site.

"I'm going to see if we can send them right into the Real-time Crime Center where they will be in a secure location so if anyone wants to go back to investigate allegations of wrongful conduct, it'll be right there," Wharton said.

Another major challenge is staff training. The city recently began a formal training schedule of 40 hours each of clerical, kennel and field training. Still, the lack of funds and subsequent staffing shortage has caused chronic documentation errors.

The Rotary Club report says volunteers are the shelter's only hope. According to the report, there are good workers at the shelter, but feel overlooked and vilified by the public. One animal control officer was cursed at, and another spat on.

All hires come through the city's human resources department, and not through the shelter.

There's no word when they expect to hire a new administrator. Meanwhile, the city is looking for a private company to take over the shelter.

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