Memphis Animal Shelter workers indicted for cruelty - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Animal Shelter workers indicted for cruelty

Archie Elliott, III, photo courtesy Shelby County Jail. Archie Elliott, III, photo courtesy Shelby County Jail.
Billy D. Stewart, photo courtesy Shelby County Jail. Billy D. Stewart, photo courtesy Shelby County Jail.
Frank Lightfoot, Jr., photo courtesy Shelby County Jail. Frank Lightfoot, Jr., photo courtesy Shelby County Jail.

(WMC-TV) - Three Memphis Animal Shelter workers have been indicted for "extremely disturbing" acts of animal cruelty.

Numerous complaints and concerns prompted what Memphis Mayor A C Wharton called a "last resort" effort.

Thursday, city officials announced the latest in the Memphis Animal Shelter saga shortly after the new facility opened in November of last year.

"We're certainly not going to shut it down today and go home," said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

"Eventually people are going to get the message," said Wharton.

"An undercover officer was assigned to the Memphis Animal Shelter over the next three months," said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Posing as employee, an undercover investigator logged what he witnessed.

"Now we have firsthand information," said Armstrong.  "Now we know for a fact that there was misconduct in reference to the mistreatment of animals at the animal shelter."

Three shelter technicians have been indicted on aggravated animal cruelty charges.  Frank Lightfoot, Jr. and Billy D. Stewart each face four counts.  Archie Elliott, III faces two counts.

All three were booked in to the Shelby County Jail.  No one answered the door at any of their listed addresses Thursday.

"The allegations that are the basis for these indictments are very disturbing on many levels," said Weirich.  "And these are indictments that I was proud and honored to sign."

The charges center around six animals allegedly mistreated while on the way to being euthanized.

Wharton said the case is clear.

"Easy enough for a second grader to know that somebody ought to get in trouble," said Wharton.

Wharton said the city is still working to change the culture at the animal shelter.

"I just think this was great," said longtime animal advocate Beverly King.  "I'm surprised that it's not more than that."

None of the three indicted have criminal records, but Lightfoot is the employee involved in the suitcase dog scandal.  One of the other two was involved in the trash can dog case.

King said downtrodden dogs and cats set to die deserve humane treatment.

"If they're not given a decent life, at least we can give them a decent death," said King.  "They do not deserve going to their death in such a violent fashion."

Animal cruelty cases inside the new facility have Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert's attention.

"That's disheartening," said Halbert.  

Halbert said new interim director James Rogers, introduced last week, needs time to make corrections.

"What is and what is not happening in the center and what type of changes need to be recommended to the mayor and division director and ultimately the city council," said Halbert.

"I just hope this is the beginning of maybe the shelter turning around finally and being a true shelter," said King.  "A haven for animals."

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YOUTUBE: Wharton angry over MAS indictments

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