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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Three Memphis Animal Services employees were suspended from the job Thursday, as the city investigates how four puppies, who were scheduled to be adopted, were put down.

“It’s four puppies. Four puppies who were microchipped and an hour from freedom, and now they’re gone,” said Big Fluffy Dog Rescue volunteer Andrea Adams.

She went to MAS this week to pick up four shepherd/lab puppies.

Adams said she saw one of them in a video on Facebook, where it appears an employee was dragging the puppy to a vehicle.

“I got there. All the paperwork was done. Just had to sign my name to it, and that’s what I did, and then I sat waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.”

Adams said that, eventually, a manager took her aside.

“He says, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but they’ve all been euthanized,’ and my heart sank. My heart just absolutely sank,” she said.

Adams said her goal is not to attack MAS.

She said the dogs had been exposed to parvo but tested negative.

“We need to change the mentality of what’s going on at Memphis Animal Services. If the new director can do that, that is great, but this is a very big bump in the road,” Adams said.

The mayor recently announced the hire of Alexis Pugh to head up MAS.

In response to the deaths of the four puppies, the city said, “The City was made aware of four rescued puppies scheduled for transfer that were wrongly euthanized at Memphis Animal Services. We are also aware of a video which appears to show an animal control officer dragging one of these puppies through the street as it was impounded. City policy requires all employees to comply with lawful regulations and we do not tolerate this kind of behavior. Upon being notified of the alleged misconduct, three Memphis Animal Services employees, including an animal care technician and two animal control officers, were suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. We want to assure the citizens of Memphis that we take any allegations regarding inappropriate employee behavior very seriously. Any employee who is found to have acted improperly will be held accountable.”

Pugh said, “I made a promise to Mayor Strickland and the citizens of Memphis to place the humane treatment of animals in our care at the top of my priority list. Any staff members not providing the highest quality level of humane care would be held accountable. I stand by my word. I will not allow cruelty or apathy towards animals to occur on my watch.”

In late 2014, WREG reported how a dog was euthanized despite being guaranteed for adoption. That happened under the leadership of the previous administrator, James Rogers.