Memphis Animal Shelter Workers Get New Training

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(Memphis)     After spending years in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, the Memphis Animal Shelter is hoping to start fresh starting with new training.

For the last few weeks, shelter workers have been getting re-trained from employees at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County.

Some of the training involves work with a slip leash, which is an alternative to the controversial catch pole shelter workers have sometimes misused.

"We're looking at how to humanely get an animal out of a truck without having to carry them by a catch pole around their neck, how to put them into a cage and get them out of a cage humanely without having that pressure around their neck," said Alexis Amorose, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County.

Legal briefings from Memphis Judge Tarik Sugarmon are also part of the training.  Judge Sugarmon talked to workers Thursday afternoon about how to best report cases in the legal system.

"What's been so wonderful is that we've seen a real response from the staff.  They're excited to have more tools in their tool belt that allow them to handle animals," Amorose said.

The training comes after years of problems at the shelter involving workers, cruelty accusations and wrongful euthanasia.

Most recently, three former shelter workers were arrested on cruelty charges in early March after an undercover Memphis Police Department sting inside the shelter.

Animal advocates hope the new training continues and that the shelter can continue to improve.

"This is a good step forward," said shelter watchdog Cindy Sanders.  "If you give someone the tools and the training, then they'll either rise to the occasion or if they fall short, you can say they've been trained and terminate."

"We've been here three or four times already working with the staff, and we don't have any plans to stop," Amorose said.