We have a wonderful animal shelter here in Oxford. The staff is caring and professional, the facilities are clean and new, and the animals kept there are comfortable, clean, and well-fed.
Travel north about eighty miles to the sprawling metropolis of Memphis, Tennessee, and it's a completely different story.
The Memphis Animal Shelter (shortened hereafter to MAS or the more descriptive HELL) has long been a hotbed of cruelty, incompetence, and outright criminal activity. Recent attempts at cleaning up the physical and procedural messes at the MAS have been somewhat less than successful.
Case in point -- the missing dog Kapone, and the arrest of a felonious animal control 'officer' who has a criminal rap sheet longer than that of most Memphis City Council members (and that alone is impressive). And we're not talking petty crimes here -- there's burglary. Robbery. Fraud. All manner of very grown-up mayhem, and yet this person was issued a uniform and put on the MAS payroll in keeping with the existing shelter policy of 'Uh, what?'
Here's what happened -- last week, two dogs belonging to Memphian Brooke Shoup escaped from their backyard and were picked up by an 'officer' with the MAS. Yeah, I put 'officer' in little quotes. As I mentioned before, the 'officer' in question has extensive experience with law enforcement, if you count being arrested over and over. I have to wonder how she included so many convictions on her resume -- did she just claim 'extensive experience in entrepreneurial property re-assignment' and hope no one asked?
But I digress. The two wandering dogs were picked up by the 'officer' and transported to the MAS. But when owner Brooke Shoup came to MAS to claim her two dogs, only one dog was produced.
11 year old Kapone was gone.
Now, I imagine communicating the whole 'two dogs is more than one dog' concept to the MAS staff required several hours and the use of drawings, songs, and an appearance by the entire cast of Sesame Street. But somehow owner Shoup managed to convey the missing dog idea to the MAS, and the search for Kapone began.
Began, and pretty much ended, right with the same 'officer' who claimed to have brought the two dogs into the MAS. This 'officer' explained away Kapone's absence by claiming he wasn't absent. This clever stratagem was not entirely without merit; the MAS itself admits that thousands of dogs go missing from its care every year. Missing. That's their word for it. Theories abound on the cause of these canine vanishings. Some point fingers at the elusive Memphis Bigfoot. Others maintain the Shelter was built on the site of an ancient energy vortex. Most of the staff at the MAS, if asked about this statistic, look quickly at the floor and suddenly remember pressing business elsewhere.
The 'officer' was arrested (again) today on two counts of animal cruelty, which is precisely the kind of accusation one demands in an animal control officer. Poor Kapone, like so many other hapless pets who have the misfortune to enter the care of the MAS, is still missing.
This next part is conjecture, but I think I know what happened to Kapone. It is my opinion that he was sold, by someone (I can't imagine who, I really can't) employed by the MAS. Sold to a dogfighter, for use as a bait dog.
I imagine this very transaction takes place quite often at the MAS.
Which makes employing persons with extensive criminal records a -- oh, what is the phrase I'm looking for?
A very bad idea.
I feel sorry for poor Kapone the dog, who I fear met a sad and undeserved fate. I feel sorry for his owner, Brooke Shoup. I feel nothing but contempt for the 'officer,' who should never have been placed in a position of authority over any creature, great or small, and certainly shouldn't be allowed anywhere near MAS.
I doubt that any of this will bring about fundamental change at the MAS. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that our 'officer' is quietly reinstated at some point. I hope I'm wrong on that last bit. But I'd lay even money I'm not, because in some circles in Memphis, criminal activity is not only winked at but bought fruity little drinks with umbrellas in the glass and then taken out for dinner and dancing.
Kapone, rest in peace. You did nothing wrong. It's a terrible world where leaving your yard means you risk your life, especially at the hands of those who are being paid to protect you.
PS -- I hope the dog-fight trash who bought Kapone dies an agonizing, gruesome death from untreatable butt cancer. And that goes for all the dog-fight trash everywhere, and frankly dying from rancid butt-tumors is far too good for the lot of you.