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New Day at the Shelter

Animal shelter hires director, changes euthanasia policies.

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Last October, Lisa Trenthem of Good Dog Rescue was devastated when the border collie mix she'd hoped to adopt from Memphis Animal Services was euthanized for allergies. Weeks later, the Memphis Animal Coalition was formed to push for changes at the shelter.

Among the group's goals were decreasing the shelter's high euthanasia rate, changing the policy for adopting sick animals, expanding shelter hours, and pushing the shelter to hire a director.

At a coalition meeting last Monday, Ken Moody, the newly appointed city director of public works, said that many of the changes are under way.

Earnest Alexander, former manager of Albuquerque's animal shelter, will begin working as the new director of Memphis Animal Services on March 17th.

"Albuquerque has become very pro-animal," Trenthem said. "Luckily, [Alexander] is coming from that environment."

Coalition members would like to see Alexander institute some of the services and policies from the Albuquerque shelter, such as pit bull puppy training classes and a low-cost spay and neuter program.

The Memphis shelter also has changed its adoption policy.

"In the past, we didn't adopt out animals with health issues, but now we have agreements with [rescue] groups who say they are willing to adopt out those animals," Moody said.

The shelter has extended its adoption hours from 26 hours per week to 39 hours per week. And it's begun hosting mobile adoption events at Petco at Poplar and Highland every other Saturday.

"Before, the Critter Coach was just sitting out back behind the shelter, and it wasn't being used," said Beverly King of the animal coalition. "Now they're taking animals to Petco twice a month, and almost every dog they've taken has been adopted."

Moody said the shelter may soon begin hosting mobile adoption events every weekend.

Moody also said the shelter hopes to bring down its high euthanasia rate. Last year, the shelter killed 83 percent of the animals taken in.

"We're working on the issues," according to Moody. "We're trying to show more compassion and commit to keeping as many animals alive as we can."

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