Controversy over Memphis Animal Shelter photo policy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local animal lovers have launched a national petition to change the policies at the Memphis Animal Shelter.

Memphis Pets Alive has recently be banned from taking pictures of animals in the area where animals are held for 72 hours.

Technically those animals are not city property and not listed for adoption.

Memphis Pets Alive used to shoot pictures there every week to help promote adopting the animals via Facebook, and reunite lost pets with owners.

MAS officials told us they have a rule against taking pictures of animals brought in and considered strays, but they do allow photos of animals currently available for adoption.

Memphis Pets Alive volunteers, however, say the policy has only recently been enforced.

Currently, MAS does not post photos of stray animals online, you must go by in person to the shelter to see animals who have been brought in.

Please watch the video to hear what Memphis Pets Alive members think about the policy.

MAS released the following statement:

“It is not true that MAS does not allow photographs of animals that are available for adoption. MAS Policy Manual 15.2 – Holding Periods is not new and has been in effect since 2009. The policy, which is stated in its entirety below, is designed to provide protection to pets and pet owners. Rescue groups and MAS partners, such as Memphis Pets Alive, are welcome to photograph animals that, in accordance with city policy (i.e. held in the MAS facility for 72 hours) are deemed to be the property of the City of Memphis. Animals that have been housed in the facility after the 72 holding period, are also posted on PETHARBOR, which also is available to the public.

Allowing photographs of MAS animals and the subsequent dissemination of said animals that are not city property is allowing a disposition (i.e. advertising city property as available) before the 72 hour hold period has expired. Additionally, sharing photos of animals housed at MAS prematurely may create an unintentional reality of misleading a potential adopter into thinking that an animal is available when the pet may belong to another pet owner. MAS views the emotional trauma of such an unfortunate misunderstanding too great a risk and therefore asks rescuers and MAS partners, such as Memphis Pets Alive, to allow the 72 hour holding period to expire before taking and sharing photos of those animals.

Animals housed in the MAS Adoption Area and animals who have met the 72 hour holding period in the MAS Healthy Hold area can be photographed for networking. Animals that are not the property of MAS located in the Healthy Hold cannot be photographed. Interested adopters are welcome to have a memo placed in the system of their interest in a pet that is not the property of the City of Memphis and MAS. We appreciate the outpouring of support from Memphis Pets Alive and the Memphis Community.

It is indeed what makes Memphis great!”