Animal advocates aired concerns about Memphis Animal Services (MAS) last night at the quarterly meeting of the MAS Advisory Board. Among those concerns were a lack of cleanliness at the shelter and a failure of employees to answer phones.
One woman in attendance asked why the shelter wasn't cleaned every day before closing time, to which MAS Administrator James Rogers replied that the shelter is cleaned once a day, in the mornings. One member of the audience said she recently counted 43 kennels with dog poop that had not been cleaned. Rogers said "we're scooping fecal matter all day." He said shelter employees are supposed to scoop every 30 minutes.
Others brought up the issue that the phones at MAS aren't always answered. Rogers said the employees who answer the phones also have other duties and are often tied up when the phone is ringing. Board member Taurus Bailey said he'd like to see MAS appoint a person to strictly manage phone duty and nothing else.
As he does at every MAS Advisory Board meeting, Rogers presented statistics on euthanasia, live release (adoption/transfer), and intake. For the year to date, 2,935 animals have been euthanized, a number that is down considerably from 2009, when 10,730 animals were euthanized.
But intake is also down. The shelter took in 8,053 animals this year so far, compared with 13,100 in 2009. Rogers implied that intake was lower because spay and neuter programs are cutting down the stray population, but Cindy Sanders, co-founder of Community Action for Animals, spoke up to say that she believed animal control officers simply weren't taking in as many animals.
A breakdown of the intake numbers shows there may be some truth to that. Of that 8,053, only 4,556 animals were actually brought in by animal control officers. The other 3,448 were animals that were surrendered by their owners to the shelter. Dr. Steven Tower, the advisory board chair, said the number of animals being picked up by officers seemed very low.
Adoptions and transfers to rescue groups, lumped together as "live release," were 4,519 for the year so far, compared with 2,020 in 2009.
As usual at the advisory board meetings, Rogers faced much criticism from animal advocates in attendance. Mayor-elect Jim Strickland has pledged to replace Rogers with a new Animal Services director after he takes office in January.