Monday, February 22, 2010

Matthew Pepper, New Director of Memphis Animal Shelter

Matthew Pepper is set to become the director of the Memphis Animal Shelter (MAS) on March 1st. He worked his final days as head of the Caddo parish shelter in Louisiana last week. He had been there for almost two years:
More than anything, parish leaders and nonprofits credit Pepper with improving the department's public relations campaign[...]
Mr. Pepper was reportedly hired by MAS due, in part, to his clean-up job at the troubled Caddo shelter. MAS probably thinks it could do with a spit-shine too.

Notable Numbers:

  • Mr. Pepper's base salary at Caddo: about $76,000
  • Mr. Pepper's starting salary at MAS: $92,000
  • Caddo's kill rate for 2009 (Mr. Pepper's only full calendar year there): over 70%

The Caddo shelter admits thousands of pets every year. When you're killing that many animals, there are bound to be some oopses:
Lost in the system, but found in a freezer. That's what happened to a little puppy accidentally killed by Caddo Animal Services.
The puppy had an adopter but never made it out of the shelter to his waiting family:
Director Matt Pepper says as unfortunate as it sounds, the puppy somehow got lost in the system. Pepper says it's one of many regrettable issues he's addressed since he's taken over. He says he's already implemented new practices that will hopefully keep this from happening again.
One of the problems with killing as a means of shelter population management is that when mistakes are made, pets get dead. Mr. Pepper knows this, first hand. I will be following his work at MAS with interest.


Anonymous said...

Image polishing is all well and good and it's commendable that he stepped up and told the truth about that puppy. But I do hope his new $92k salary comes with a mandate to reduce shelter killing - something he doesn't seem to have a track record for doing.

Barb said...

I wish ALL shelter directors had that sort of clause in their contracts! As long as it is made clear that "reducing shelter killing" does NOT mean doing like Icks (er, I mean Boks) did: withholding medical care and basic treatment so that the animals die "natural" deaths.

Joni said...

The Hammond, Louisiana shelter's kill rate is about 90% so if the shelter had a director that could get it down to 70% in one year it would be an improvement. The current director has made a lot of improvements at the shelter but the kill rate is still high.

I hope Mr. Pepper does better at the Memphis shelter. I also hope that whomever they hire at the shelter in Shreveport Louisiana will aim at reducing the killing of shelter pets even farther than what Mr. Pepper was able to.

I wish them good luck - our shelter pets need it.