Council members, director spar over animal shelter - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council members, director spar over animal shelter

The Memphis City Council had a tough question and answer session with city administration about a scathing report citing problems at the animal shelter. The Memphis City Council had a tough question and answer session with city administration about a scathing report citing problems at the animal shelter.

(WMC-TV) – The Memphis City Council had a tough question and answer session with city administration about a scathing report citing problems at the animal shelter.

Tuesday was the council's first opportunity to get answers about the Rotary Club's animal shelter report. Lawmakers say the findings will help them make a better decision whether or not the pound should be privatized.

Tuesday, Councilman Jim Strickland read through a laundry list of problems the Memphis Rotary Club found at the city pound.

"There has been a relationship between certain individuals and the illicit dog fighting rings in the community," said Strickland.

Public Services Director Janet Hooks answered that the claims were unsubstantiated.

"There have been no names offered up," she said. "No incidents given - to support what's in the report - to me."

Meanwhile, Councilman Myron Lowery asked what has been done since the mayor turned over the report to the district attorney general.

And while no one knew if prosecutors are investigating MAS, Hooks did tell the council the city needs more animal control officers.

"I think you all heard me state it last year around budget time and I'll make the case again," she said. "Running the shifts we do, we do not have an animal control officer per council district."

Strickland's questions then turned to the former shelter administrator's inability to fire staff.

"He wanted to frankly get rid of two to four employees and had he been able to do that, it would have improved dramatically," he said.

Hooks said the city must follow specific union guidelines before anyone is terminated.

"Where it was warranted and where the fact-finding bore out that the employee was guilty of a violation, then discipline was issued," she said.

"Very frankly, I think that we have some problems with inventory," Hooks said when asked if the shelter has problems with dogs going missing.

Council members surmised it would take more money to fix the problems. Strickland said he is encouraged the city put out a bid to allow a private company to operate the shelter.

"We have no extra money," he said. "We're in a deficit. So that's why I was really encouraged about turning over the management to a private company."

The city will hear from prospective animal shelter operators January 12.

Hooks announced the shelter has a new vet and shelter worker. One third of the shelter workforce was either terminated or has resigned since the mayor opened the shelter's doors to federal investigators.

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