Friday, August 12, 2011

Memphis Animal Shelter director quits, citing harsh scrutiny following past abuses

From The Republic

The director of the troubled Memphis Animal Shelter has quit, saying he needs stability in his professional and personal life.
Matthew Pepper's resignation letter states "a cloud of uncertainty" engulfs his current post, according to The Commercial Appeal, which reports he will be taking another job.
Pepper took over as director last year after Shelby County deputies raided the facility in October 2009, finding sick animals that had been deprived of food and water. The director was fired and three people were charged with animal cruelty after investigators found that at least three dogs had starved to death while in the shelter's care.
Web cameras were later installed in the facility. They were meant to let the public see how the animals were being treated, but workers say they have instead led to vicious threats over both real and imagined problems.
Mayor A C Wharton said on Thursday that he was surprised Pepper stayed as long as he did considering the intense scrutiny he has been under.
"What he's been subjected to went beyond scrutiny, intense scrutiny," Wharton said.
The latest incident came on Thursday, when someone sent a picture to city officials that was captured from the shelter's Web cameras and appeared to show employees using pit bulls for dog fighting.
But a video of the event showed that the employees actually were trying to separate dogs that were snarling at each other.
Nina Wingfield, who runs Collierville's animal shelter, placed much of the blame for Pepper's resignation on the city.
"Truthfully, I don't think the city supported him from day one," she said.
Wharton said he wasn't sure when Pepper was leaving or who would replace him.

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