The Investigators: Problems at the Pound, Part 2 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Problems at the Pound, Part 2

The Memphis Animal Shelter took in more than 16,000 animals last year, and then killed more than 80 percent of them.  That number alone is the source of dozens of complaints sent to the Action News Five Investigators asking us to look into what's really going on at the shelter.

Not only are animal rights activists concerned about the well-being of the animals at the shelter, an inside source says the shelter's wasting your tax dollars by putting down so many animals.

Thomas Bryant says the horror began when his dog Helen got loose.

"My daughter's moved on, grand kids moved on, but me and the dog were still there," Bryant said.

He was happy to find her at the Memphis Animal Shelter, but he didn't have cash to get her out and the shelter was closing for the day.

"I said, 'I'll be back tomorrow because this dog has got a good home,'" he said.

Bryant says the shelter clerk failed to note he'd be back and shelter employees euthanized Helen before he returned the next day.

Bryant was given a form to make a complaint, and within days received a letter from the city's complaint office asking him to give them a call.  Then, Bryant said, an employee in the city's claims office called him and offered $200 to settle the complaint!

"I said, 'I'm not worried about $200.  I'm worried about them exterminating animals over there that have homes,'" he said.

People have flooded our newsroom with similar stories of poor record keeping at the shelter.

"These are all accusations. There's nothing factual," said Ken Moody, Director of Memphis City Public Services. "I mean, when people are not happy or are not happy with certain things, they'll make accusations, and it's unfair for our employees to have to be accused without factual. It's unfair to even have to respond without having factual documentation to support it."

Moody admits there are challenges at the shelter, but says they're working hard to make things right.

"We are open longer now than we were in the past," he said. "We are adopting animals that aren't 100 percent healthy, which we didn't in the past.  Twice a month, we have mobile pet adoptions at Petco."

But, for the first time, an inside source at the shelter is backing up the complaints.

"There's owners coming in who are claiming their animals that have been their pets for years and instead of holding the dog when they know they have an owner, they put it to sleep," the source said.

The Memphis Animal Shelter euthanized more than 13,000 animals last year, for an 83% kill rate.  The most recent euthanasia statistics from the American Humane Society show the national euthanasia average is 64%.
There may not be homes for all the animals, but the insider says, instead of collecting $70 to $75 to adopt or return each animal to the owner, you're paying to put them down.

"It's a waste," the source said. "The city could be making money, but instead they're spending money euthanizing the animals."

For Helen's sake, Bryant hopes things will change at the Memphis Animal Shelter.

"She was kind of old anyway and I knew she wouldn't be around forever, but I figured she could live her life out until then and be happy instead of what happened there.  That was terrible," he said.

"We're just as passionate and concerned about animals as they are, and we're gonna do all we can within policies and procedures to make sure the animals are safe and those that can be reunited with their owners will happen as soon as possible," Moody said.

The shelter hasn't had a manager for nine months.  A new manager starts March 3rd.

Helpful links:

To Adopt Dogs at Memphis Animal Shelter:

Pet Rescue Groups:

Click here to send an email to Kontji Anthony.

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