The city of Memphis published the Memphis Animal Services shelter statistics for 2011, which are posted on their web site.

  • Animal intake decreased (15,042) in 2011; however, this is down by only 2.5% from 2010 (15,401)
  • Euthanasia rate for 2011 was 73%; however, this is down by only 4% from 2010 (77% or 11,906)
  • Positive outcomes for 2011 were 3,404 (23% of total intake), yet for 2010 was 2,776 (18% of total intake)
The following is a further breakdown of the numbers:
  • 2011 adoptions were 1,958 (13%), up 2.5% -- for 2010 they were 1616 (10.5%)
  • 2011 transfers were 785 (5%), up 3.5% -- for 2010 they were 243 (1.5%)
  • 2011 owner reclaims were 661 (4.4%), down 1.5% -- for 2010 they were 917 (6%)
There is a discrepancy in the statistics for both years:
  • For 2011: 15,042 -- 11,030 - 3,404 = 608
  • For 2010: 15,401 -- 11,906 - 2,776 = 719

The city states that the discrepancies represent the number of animals that remain in the shelter from month to month. The problem with those numbers is due to issues with the shelter's inventory process.

While the shelter has animals "on hand" at any given time, it is hardly possible that the numbers could average that high given the number of kennels (in both the old and the new facility). Many people visiting the new MAS facility noted that there are always empty kennels.

The city has requested volunteer assistance with animal inventory assessment, especially with anyone that has expertise in inventory management. The city should consider the incorporation of barcoding and wireless hand-held devices to track every 'change' in an animal's status (just like FedEx and UPS track packages).

There is a little improvement in the euthanasia rate (2011 over 2010). The city can claim that as a 'positive' and things are getting 'better'; however, MAS is still killing 3 of every 4 animals that they take in. Note: Reclaims were down and the biggest 'improvement' was transfers (to rescue organizations).

The city needs to ensure all MAS employees use the Chameleon software properly and to its fullest potential. If that were occurring, then every stray and every adoptable animal would be posted on Currently, very few animals are posted on PetHarbor and strays are never posted on the MAS PetFinder or FaceBook pages.

When will the city of Memphis proactively work to reduce euthanasia and improve their "successful outcomes" at MAS, especially regarding owner reclaims which for 2011 were an abysmal 4.4%?


Memphis Animal Services is a department within the City of Memphis Division of Public Services and Neighborhoods. The "Memphis Dog Pound," as it was formerly named, was opened in September 1936. Originally begun as a Great Depression relief project, the facility was located in downtown Memphis until 1972, when the renamed "Memphis Animal Shelter" was opened on Tchulahoma Road. According to the City of Memphis, the name was again changed in 2004 to "Memphis Animal Services," in effort to better describe the City's broad range of improved animal programs and services.

In September of 2009, at the urging of concerned citizens, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies launched a raid on the shelter. This raid resulted in sixteen felony counts of animal cruelty, and the veil that covered the appalling conditions at MAS was lifted.

Volunteers from both ASPCA and the American Humane Association came to Memphis to evaluate the animals (more than 200 dogs and cats) at the shelter. Upon inspection the team found: many malnourished animals with little food or water; sick animals housed with animals that were not sick; animals that were being quarantined for rabies housed with the general population; vicious dogs housed with docile dogs; and deplorable conditions in the kennels. A number of dogs --at least three –-had been starved to the point where they died or euthanization was necessary.

This cute little 6-month-old puppy, listed on paperwork as Puppy 199287, was admitted to the Memphis Animal Shelter on August 18, 2009 as a part of an animal cruelty investigation. By all accounts, Justice was a healthy little puppy upon admission, but by September 4, 2009, only 16 days later, this little puppy was dead, a victim of starvation at the hands of the Memphis Animal Services.

Necropsy results showed that the puppy hadn't eaten in at least three days. There was no fat, no muscle left on the 6 month-old puppy's little body. It was pictures of this emaciated puppy, taken by an anonymous informant, which led Shelby County Sheriff's deputies to launch a raid on the shelter in September 2009.

View the Justice for Justice the 6 Month Old Lab/Pit Mix and the Memphis Animal Shelter Raid videos.

Three employees, including the MAS Administrator, were indicted and fired as a result of the raid. Newly elected Mayor A.C. Wharton then conducted a nationwide search and hired Matthew Pepper as Administrator of Memphis Animal Services. Mr. Pepper was the former Director of Caddo Parish Animal Control in Louisiana and started work at Memphis Animal Services on March 1, 2010.

In an effort to create a culture of transparency, one of the changes implemented after the raid was the installation of security cameras throughout the facility. Two years later, in July 2011, Chief Administrative Officer George Little said in a memo, "the city shares concerns workers have about their safety because of the cameras". The cameras were subsequently removed, and by August of 2011, Matthew Pepper resigned, citing "existing circumstances" and a "cloud of uncertainty" as some of his reasons for leaving.

Animal advocates are extremely troubled by photographs showing employees mistreating animals, such as this employee who is shown hoisting a non-aggressive animal into the air. Without the installation of webcams, there is great concern that the mistreatment of animals will continue at the new facility, located at 2350 Appling City Cove (I-40 and Appling Road North Exit).

Read the Commercial Appeal news report regarding the web cams in the new facility.