Saturday, November 7, 2009

Abuse, Starvation & Neglect at City of Memphis Animal Shelter

It is sad that any being should be in this condition, especially those that can not help themselves. Let's make sure that Ernest Alexander and the others involved are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Most importantly that Ernest Alexander never be in a position to to deal with animals again. It is hard for me to believe that Ernest Alexander had the "proper credentials" to mananage an Animal Shelter. Hope they will make his resume public, this was a position that paid over $92,000/year.
This is from Myron Lowery, Memphis City Councilman in reply to my Email. This is what I said:

The City of Memphis, which I called home for over 20 years, before leaving 5 years ago, should be ashamed of their Animal Shelter and the treatment of those innocent souls. Please tell me there is a plan in place to make the necessary changes so the well-being of these unfortunate animals will be foremost on the minds of your shelter workers.

~A society will be judged on how it looks after it's most vulnerable members“. - William Dean ~

I pray that this will NEVER happen again, in Memphis or anywhere else.

This was the reply from Mr. Lowery:

Mayor A C Wharton said he fired Memphis Animal Services director Ernest Alexander because animal shelter employees appeared unable to complete basic tasks, such as following procedures for euthanasia animals and completing paperwork.

Wharton’s decision to fire Alexander Thursday night, nine days after law enforcement authorities raided the shelter and shut it down, came after shelter employees improperly euthanized a dog this week and preliminary results of an investigation showed poor management by Alexander at the city-owned shelter.

“You’ve got a mayor now who, perhaps to a fault, likes to be hands on,” said Wharton during a morning press conference at the shelter. “I am not an expert on (animal shelters), but I can walk in there and tell you if there is enough food or water in the bowl, or if they followed our own procedures.”

Despite allegations of mistreatment of the animals he oversaw at a shelter in Albuquerque, N.M., Alexander arrived in Memphis in the spring of 2008 after former mayor Willie Herenton launched a nationwide search for an administrator who could improve conditions at the shelter, long a source of controversy for local animal rights activists.

In addition to Alexander’s termination, three other shelter employees remain suspended with pay until the city investigation is complete.

Wharton said Darrell Eldred, the former deputy director of the General Services Division, who returned to City Hall to work for Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons, will serve on a temporary basis as the operations manager at the shelter until a full-time replacement can be found.

Saying animals deserve treatment that is as caring and professional as that for humans, Wharton also hired Lucy Shaw, who once ran the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, as a consultant to assess standards at the shelter and how they measure up to other shelters around the country.

“The bottom line is, where are we now and where do we want to go?” said Shaw.

Public pressure for Wharton to take dramatic action on the shelter has been building since Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies raided the facility on Wharton’s first full day as mayor, culminating in a candlelight vigil outside the shelter last night where many attendees said they wanted Alexander and other shelter staff members fired. Authorities have said at least three animals starved to death while in the shelter’s care.

“I believe in doing things right instead of doing them fast,” said Wharton. “I see (the public reaction) as a strong sign that the city cares, that we have a conscience.”

Wharton said he was stunned to learn that a dog had been euthanized this week before its owners could be contacted and surprised to see how sloppy the record keeping at the shelter was, including important documents on the drugs used to kill animals.

“If you’re lax on these records that can send you to jail, heaven forbid, what are you doing with records on how much food or water they have?” said Wharton. “That’s why it disgusted me so much that a pet was put down under questionable circumstances.”

A search warrant delivered during last week’s raid stated that authorities believed Alexander and shelter employees had violated laws. District Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons has said criminal charges are likely.