Thursday, November 5, 2009

Search Warrant for Memphis Animal Shelter

According to the search warrant served on the Memphis Animal Shelter (pdf) Puppy #199287 was admitted on August 18, 2009. Her records indicate she is a friendly pup and specify that she was to be held for a pending court case involving animal cruelty. Sadly, she ended up as evidence in a completely different cruelty case after the shelter allegedly starved her to death. Photographs documenting her condition from arrival until she was found dead in her cage on September 4, 2009 appear in the search warrant along with the necropsy results by the ASPCA Vet. That report concludes Puppy #199287 died of "non-accidental" "end-stage starvation". First her body consumed its external fat in an effort to stay alive. When that supply was exhausted, her body consumed organ fat and finally bone marrow fat. Normal bone marrow fat levels are 60% or higher but this pup's was 2.3%. Although she had not been fed for days, someone apparently gave her a small amount of food shortly before death which she did eat. So Puppy #199287 could and would eat, the shelter just didn't feed her.

The search warrant references a whistleblower (identity withheld) who, along with many other shelter volunteers, had long been advising those in charge at the shelter that animals were being starved, living in feces/urine filled cages with Parvo dogs and receiving no or dirty water. All these people are back on the job today while the investigation continues. Perhaps the only saving grace is a temporary halt to killings at the shelter, ordered by the mayor. But of course that doesn't cover pets starved to death or being forced to live in inhumane conditions. The Mayor is apparently not too concerned about that. If he was, he wouldn't allow the people who condoned this suffering to keep collecting their paychecks and remain responsible for the care of pets at the shelter right now.

I ask again - Are they feeding the pets NOW?


KateH said...

Have any stories - with or without pictures - been written for any news media in Memphis? This is beyond ridiculous that this not only has been going on, but those people still have jobs, including the do-nothing mayor!

Rinalia said...

I'm baffled why these people aren't on administrative leave? Economy? What? It's something they commonly do when other paid employees, like police officers, are under scrutiny.

EmilyS said...

excuse me.. there are SEQUENTIAL photographs of a dog starving to death? And the photographers just... let it die?

YesBiscuit! said...

I hear you Emily but I don't know the circumstances of how those photos came into evidence.
Speculation: ALL the dogs were being starved and unless the volunteers who cared about the pets could afford to purchase out of their own pockets and sneak in sufficient food supply (neither likely nor reasonable), all they could really do is what they were doing - continually report conditions to the people in charge. Ultimately, someone went to authorities and I HOPE that will be the thing that stops this cruelty.

SMaki said...

I have the same question as EmilyS. If the photographer wasn't getting satisfaction from those in charge at the shelter, why not escalate it BEFORE someone was dead?!

YesBiscuit! said...

Again, we don't know how those photos came into evidence. One of the reasons whistleblowers do not come forward is because they fear judgment of the type illustrated here "You knew X was going on and you did nothing?!". I want to *encourage* whistleblowers on animal cruelty, not discourage them. Believe me, I too would prefer that this puppy and ALL the pets being starved and mistreated in this facility could have been saved. Maybe now, at least some will.

YesBiscuit! said...

I just happened across this quote and thought it might be good to share here:
Almost anything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. ~ Gandhi

Pai said...

Well, if they were trying to tell people it was happening before, but nobody listened, maybe they felt that they needed photo evidence of it happening before anyone would.

And apparently, they were right.

Rinalia said...

EmilyS: Alternatively, the after picture could have been taken by a recent employee who saw an emaciated dog, searched through records and discovered the dog did not come in emaciated.

Or it could have been a volunteer who experienced pressure or threats if s/he said anything. A culture of fear can easily be created in a dog and cat shelter as much as anywhere else.

Or yes, it could have been someone who has been documenting severe errors for some time now to help build a case against the shelter.

Ultimately, we just don't know who took the picture (and we shouldn't, if they're a whistleblower) or how events transpired. I'm certainly not excusing anyone's actions here, just speculating on possible alternatives to how that picture came to be.

Obviously it matters not to the dog how it happened, that dog should never have ended up in that state nor should have any of the other animals at the facility.