Conditions better at troubled Tennessee animal shelter
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 8:01 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — Conditions have substantially improved at the Memphis city animal shelter since deputies raided it in October.
The Commercial Appeal reported adoptions are up and fewer animals are being euthanized.
The city is building a new shelter that should be ready in about a year.
Animal Services administrator Matthew Pepper took over running the shelter five months ago and says the new facility will be better for the animals, and will house more pets.
“The animal shelter we have now was basically built as an impoundment facility,” Pepper said. “The layout of the floor isn’t consistent with safety issues and there’s always overcrowding.”
People who volunteer at the center say positive changes are evident.
“Employees are happy with their jobs,” said Jeanne Chancellor, a longtime volunteer. “The animals up for adoption get to go outside every day. I leave there, and I don’t have this pit in my stomach. I don’t worry like I used to.”
The newspaper reported Pepper instituted a plan under which each employee “adopts” a dog or cat and work to find that animal a home.
The result is fewer animals being destroyed and more being adopted each month.
“It’s a start,” Pepper said. “We’re doing things every day to try to make those numbers better.”
After the raid by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office last year, investigators found at least three dogs had starved to death.
Former shelter administrator Ernie Alexander was fired. Charges of aggravated cruelty to animals are pending against Alexander and two other staff members.
The indictments and the drab, jail-like structure of the current shelter had taken a toll on employee morale.
Pepper is eager to move the operation into the new building, which will be larger and better designed.
Among features will be better air handling to prevent the spread of airborne diseases, a fenced outdoor area where volunteers can walk dogs and let them play, and an area for cats.
The new center will have 546 kennels, compared with 341 at the current building.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com
Published in The Messenger 7.14.10