I'd read about this when it was first reported last year but never paid much attention to it in part because of what was happening at our own Humane Society but now revisiting what went on in Memphis, I'm amazed by the parallels in the two investigations.
Last October, the City of Memphis Animal Shelter was raided by the sheriff's department after reports of animal cruelty.
From The Commercial Appeal:
Starving, thirsty and sometimes ailing, more than 200 dogs and cats were in the care of volunteers Tuesday after law enforcement officers raided the City of Memphis Animal Shelter.
Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputies executed a search warrant at the shelter, 3456 Tchulahoma, after a tipster complained about abuse and cruelty to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office.
“From what we’ve seen this morning, it’s evident there’s been some neglect,” said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, who said he’d been told of deficiencies in staff training.
Animal-rights advocate Jackie Johns, who was recently appointed to the shelter’s advisory board, said she’d heard complaints about dirty conditions, malnourished animals and rude employees.
“There’s been issues for several years now,” she said. “Hopefully they can clean it up, and it can be something that’s good for the city.”
If this is sounding familiar, it might be because it is. Here's part of the press release from the OSPCA after they first did a "surprise" inspection on the THS:
The Ontario SPCA conducted an inspection at the Toronto Humane Society yesterday in response to numerous complaints regarding allegations of the unnecessary suffering of animals in care at the Toronto Humane Society. Ontario SPCA Orders regarding the Standards of Care for four animals were issued.
The Ontario SPCA is required to respond by legislation to any credible allegation of neglect, abuse or cruelty as mandated by the Ontario SPCA Act.
"The investigation is ongoing and we are limited as to the information we can provide at this time. We can disclose that we found animals in distress requiring immediate intervention and as a result, Orders have been issued," says Ontario SPCA Senior Inspector Mindy Hall who is the lead investigator on the case.
Since the Globe articles were released, the Ontario SPCA has received dozens of additional, credible complaints outlining serious concerns that point to a pattern of poor care over the course of many years.
Although initial reports about the reasons for the Memphis raid were pretty generalized and I'm sure if someone wanted to make a stink about it, one could've said that it was politically motivated, but then about a week later this came out in the papers:
Both are photos of the same pup, Puppy No. 199287, taken about 3 weeks apart. No. 199287 died from starvation while under the "care" of the shelter.
The photo of this poor pup reminds me of this photo from the National Post article, Mummified cat found in ceiling at Toronto Humane Society:
The above cat was a cat caught in a live trap set in the ceiling at the THS and left to starve and die.
In both investigations, it wasn't until several weeks after the raids that the directors were arrested.
From The Commercial Appeal, Former Memphis animal-shelter director Alexander arrested in New Mexico
Former Memphis Animal Shelter director Ernest Alexander was arrested on animal-cruelty charges at his Albuquerque apartment Friday night.
He had been reported to be on the lam most of the day following his indictment the previous day.
Police in New Mexico found Alexander at about 6:45 p.m. Central time after the Shelby County Sheriff's Office tracked him to his native state, said sheriff's office spokesman Steve Shular.
Shular said it was unclear whether the former director was in hiding, but he "was not surprised. He knew officers were looking for him, and he confirmed that when he was arrested."
Shular added that Alexander came peacefully.
Also indicted Thursday on multiple charges of aggravated animal cruelty were former shelter supervisor Tina Quattlebaum and veterinarian Angela Middleton. Both women turned themselves in Thursday evening and were released on $25,000 bonds.
Each of the three former shelter supervisors has been indicted on six counts of aggravated animal cruelty stemming from the deaths of three terriers.
They face a standard sentencing range of one to two years in prison if convicted, but could be eligible for diversion.
Here's the Globe and Mail article, Toronto Humane Society officials arrested, face animal-cruelty charges, reporting on the arrest of THS heads:
The Toronto Humane Society’s president and chief veterinarian are facing criminal charges of animal cruelty for running a dysfunctional shelter where animals were allegedly denied food and water and left to die suffering in their cages.
The charges against volunteer president Tim Trow, veterinarian Steve Sheridan and three other senior officials came six months after a Globe and Mail investigation uncovered widespread allegations of problems at the River Street facility.
If convicted, Mr. Trow, Dr. Sheridan, general manager Gary McCracken and senior staff members Romeo Bernadino and Andy Bechtel all face a maximum of five years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
And perhaps most interesting, is that in both cases, the search warrants have been made public and are available online. These relate the detailed allegations against the respective agencies which convinced judges to issue search warrants.
The one for the Memphis Animal Shelter is here. Be warned that it contains some graphic photos.
The one for the Toronto Humane Society is here. Be warned that it contains many graphic descriptions.
Funny how the Memphis police only required a few pages worth of allegations to get their warrant whereas the OSPCA provided almost a hundred pages and dozens of witness testimonies to get their warrant.
It'll be interesting to compare the progress of the two cases as they wind their way through their respective courts. Regardless of the final legal judgments, let's hope the animals are the winners in both cases.