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Letter From the Editor

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There's a nice story behind the puppy pictured above. She was spotted in a ditch along the Greenline. A caring individual took her home, cleaned her up, and took her to a downtown office. Within minutes, pictures of the puppy were being emailed, posted on Facebook, and sent out on Twitter. The response was instant and led to a happy ending for one abandoned puppy. Being cute is sometimes the best survival trait.

How did she end up in that ditch? We'll never know. What about her littermates? They were probably cute too. What happened to them? Were they killed by predators? Did they die of starvation? Or were they taken to Memphis Animal Services? If so, were they deemed "adoptable"? Or warehoused for a while then euthanized like 12,000 other animals were last year?

And what about the dog on our cover this week — the one with the big sad eyes staring from a cage at Memphis Animal Services (pictured below)? By the time you read this, he may already have been put to death. The odds of his survival are not good, since 75 percent of the animals brought to Memphis Animal Services are euthanized.

In 1973, the now-defunct National Lampoon magazine put a picture of a dog with a gun held to its head on the cover with the headline: "Buy This Magazine or We'll Shoot the Dog." It was a parody, but it illustrates a point. If we're faced with killing a dog or saving it, 99 percent of us will figure out a way to save it.

So how do we justify killing 12,000 animals a year in Shelby County? As Bianca Phillips points out in this week's cover story, there are larger cities than Memphis that have figured out how to run a no-kill shelter. It takes marketing, a dedicated staff, and an involved public.

We can either learn how to do it or kill another 250 animals this week. Take another look at the cover and ask yourself what you think we should do.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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