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19 June 2011


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Thank you for this, Christie.

I would also point out that that photo is of one of the very few shelter workers who handles animals with kindness and compassion. Ranger was too scared to walk, so this ACO picked him up and carried him. He can also be seen bending down and talking to dogs, petting them, and generally being a good guy.

Webcam watchers cheer when they see him because he is so different from how the others handle animals (the others regularly use brute force and chokepoles, even lifting dogs into upper cages on them, and generally handling live animals like "things").

I look forward to the attorney's response to your question.


Well, if she needs to raise funds for an attorney consult fee, I'd be happy to send something. Just post the address where funds are being accepted.


I'm re-posting to Facebook and more. Thx for sharing so we can help get the word out about this.


Thank you, Christie, for getting involved. I've shared this on Facebook and twitter, and urge others to do the same.


Thank you Christie!

Shirley's coverage of the abuse at MAS has been incredible, and relentless in the face of very little movement on the other side.

The more attention this gets, the better.


Thanks for getting the word out there - what's happening in Memphis is beyond horrid! And now to try and silence one of the few people who actually is trying to do something to help the animals is simply beyond belief. I hope this little scare tactic will backfire in a big way. I know that it's only served to keep me going!

I cannot imagine that the people of Memphis even begin to understand what's really happening at that facility and how much time and energy the powers that be are expending to keep things from changing.


OK, I know you won't do this, because you're like professional and stuff - but I would pay you a dollar if you ask him about the MAS budget being spent on candy and hookers.

H. Houlahan

Given this interstate SLAPP action by a city government, I would hope that the local chapter of the ACLU might take an interest in the First Amendment aspect of Memphis' attempt at intimidation.

There is no right that is more fundamental to any free polity than the right of a citizen to criticize the government.


Christie, did you have a nice chat with anyone in Memphis today?

Christie Keith

I tried, but no one got back to me. Quelle surprise.

Shirley says she spoke to a Memphis reporter who tracked down the city attorney, so we'll see...


Go Christie!


Thanks for covering this, Christie. [And LOL at Shirley!]

Peter J. Wolf

Thank you, Christie, for bringing attention to this important issue!

As a blogger trying to shine some light on the pseudoscience that fuels the witch-hunt against feral cats, SLAPP suits are a serious concern. On the other hand, the injustice simply infuriates me.

If there's a silver lining, it's this: when SLAPP suits are all the establishment has left, they've got to be close to losing the fight.


Thanks so much for writing about this. All the publicity the better on this one!


I'm not surprised. I'll bet they've been busy in Memphis today . . . Shirley is on top of this whole thing!


Well, perhaps TN does not have any kind of sunshine law, like in FL, where you can ask for copies of correspondence between parties. If they do, the communication from whoever directed the city attorney to write this letter (and someone did, wasn't his idea I'm sure) is part of public record.

Whether the city attorney is on payroll or contracted, he just used up some big bucks to do the research (well, probably a law clerk).

Is that how Memphis citizens want to spend their money? If I lived there, I'd be trying to find the answers to WHO started this particular ball rolling.

Spending money on useless things is a big topic these days. Fit for a letter to the editor.


Christie, call the mayor too. He's apparently a little sensitive on the pet issue.

Something must be up as the Animal services board cancelled their June meeting. There's zip listed for May. They're way behind on recording minutes of these meetings on the website. Last one available is March, where director claims strays are mostly all pit bulls. Yeesh.

It looks like some Board members are trying to address issues. Last item on this page is a comment by the city attorney, but he wasn't listed as present. Maybe he channels? And I have to say if the city council is not running their ordinances past an attorney before they come up for a vote, well, what is his job then, pestering citizens?

David S. Greene

None of us like what has been going on in Memphis, but this is fair warning to everyone to keep it civil. Profanity won't be tolerated here, and comments containing inappropriate language will be deleted.

Susan Fox

I'll match Shirley's offer and add a dollar.


My blog post:

Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz

I FB'd and Tweeted too!


Wow. This totally sounds like SLAPP. Unbelievable. I am sorry Shirley was scared enough to quit. The Sheriff is just blustering. I wonder which family member of his, or friend, works there that he felt he had to take this route. I hope you DO call him Christie. I'd love to hear how he blusters though an answer.


Go Shirley!


Good lord. I meant the city attorney. I need to go to bed. Shirley - I am so glad you have been writing about MAS and trying to help the animals there.

Christie Keith

LOL, Shirley....


I've posted on FB for all my Memphis family. Most of them know what's going on and have tried to do something. But the whole city/county borders on corrupt.

Thanks for the update.


I Googled (in the "News" category) for "Memphis Animal Shelter", and guess what was the first hit?

Keep that heat on!

Keith Langhorn

Thank you for shining a light on the abuse of these animals. Please keep on doing what you are doing. Keith, San Diego.


There are a lot of things that should be done differently, and thank goodness for people like Shirley and Christie for making sure that folks know what is really happening.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall in the mayor's office about now. He's started something that is going to blow up in his face! (as it should)


The city attorney should prosecute MAS operators/employees for the mass murder of precious living souls, rather than issuing this ridiculous threat.

If the world worked right, that's what would occur, but with humans running things, the world is bass ackwards.

Just my opinion.

mary francis

I sent a donation via snail mail to:

Shirley Thistlethwaite


10120 Two Notch Rd., Ste 2

Columbia, SC 29223-4385



There is a chip-in (see YesBiscuit) to create a billboard (strategically placed) in Memphis. Any and all donations appreciated.


They need to have a physical address for people to send donations to. Requiring people to have (or create) a PayPal account in order to donate is going to keep a lot of potential donations away.


I'm assuming the published stillshot you're referring to is the one that looks suspiciously like two dogs being encouraged to fight by two shelter employees? If so, you may wish to review a timeline on Ms. Thistlewaite's blog "Yes Biscuit" (which you will find listed on the blogroll along the upper lefthand side of this screen). The threat to remove the cameras was issued WELL before the stillshot in question appeared on her blog.

And as for the "better direction" that Mr. Pepper was moving the shelter towards - really? Dogs - often SMALL dogs - on chokepoles as a routine method of handling? Cats suspended by their necks in tongs? Puppies in garbage cans? Dogs (most often pitbulls) going missing on a regular basis? Shelter employees (well - one in particular) allowing dogs in their care to die in the back of their vehicle while they avoided returning to the shelter in order to avoid arrest? Volunteers who are trying to help things get better being asked to resign because they're "not on the same page" as shelter management? And so on.

Read the Yes Biscuit blog. Read the entries going back for WEEKS, if not MONTHS. And THEN come back here and tell us whether you think that animals in the Memphis "shelter" would agree with you about the"better direction" things have been going since Mr. Pepper took over.

David S. Greene

L.Anderson, I couldn't disagree with you more. What Shirley did was speak truth to power. Her blog posts were no more irresponsible than journalists exposing egregious child labor violations in factories, the illustration of corporate malfeasance, or outright lying by government entities. The screenshots she used were all from a public facility. As such, they were showing behavior paid for by YOUR tax dollars.

the resignation of the director that was moving this shelter in a better direction (perfect, no ; but better).

Do you have a shred of evidence for your characterization of MAS being moved in a better direction or is this a new definition of "better" with which we're not familiar? Nothing was improving at MAS. If it had been, I assure you Mr. Pepper would have taken every possible opportunity to trumpet the new "improvements" to the masses. MAS has been (and until something changes, still is) mired in a vicious cycle of wholesale killing without even a pretense of trying to reach out to the public to lessen the ongoing slaughter.

Shirley has been a much-needed agent for change. One which, I'm sad to say, has not yet been adequately supported by any organizations on the ground in Memphis.


Believe me there is a strong awareness of the issues here in Memphis (and its not just the shelter but thats the topic here). Most may think this is just some uneducated southern city for which it is not. When these atrocities were discovered it sent everyone in an uproar around the world and in Memphis as well. Now understand, there are other shelters in this country that have the same issues and need to be exposed... BUT...and its a big one.. Shirley Thistlewaite's published stillshot was HIGHLY irresponsible. It is now prompting the possible removal of cameras and the resignation of the director that was moving this shelter in a better direction (perfect, no ; but better). So before everyone praises the great deeds bestowed on this great cause by Ms. Thislethwaite, remember that her "wolf cry" just set this back 10 steps....

H. Houlahan



L. Anderson - I am open to criticism. In order for the posting of the screengrab to qualify as "highly irresponsible", it would have had to meet some criteria such as:

I knew or had a reasonable suspicion the shot was a fake.

I had received other shots surrounding the one in question which would have revealed more of the story but chose to hide them.

I was privvy to the security camera footage showing the workers beating the dogs.

I stated that I knew what was going on in the photo.

I had received a response to my inquiry to the city about the photo and they had advised that it was workers beating dogs with a chokepole and not, as it appeared to some, intentionally engaging them in a dogfight.

None of these are true. Further, I would counter that it would have been irresponsible of me to not publish a photo which appeared to show abuse at the hands of MAS staff. I post photos of this nature regularly. There are some in my current post in fact. Sadly, I fear they will not be the last as long as Memphis lacks the guts to stand up to the abusers and forces the city officials to reform the pound.

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