Is the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County the same thing as Memphis Animal Services?

No. The Humane Society is totally separate from Memphis Animal Services, which is Memphis’ municipal, government-run animal control facility. The Humane Society is a private nonprofit with a mission of rescuing and rehabilitating injured and abused animals. We are a limited-intake facility and we accept animals when we have resources available. Memphis Animal Services is an open-admission facility and they accept any and every animal brought to them.


How is the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County funded?

The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County is funded on donations from people and businesses. We do receive grant funding from various foundations and government entities when we apply for it and are awarded it. We are 100% reliant on the generosity and support of the public to stay in operation.


I would like to report animal cruelty. How do I do that?

Please visit this page for more information.


I found a dog or a cat; will you take him/her?

We are able to take in animals as resources are available. Since we never euthanize for time or space, there are times when our facility is simply full and we do not have the space to bring in another animal. The need in the Memphis community is immense, and we, along with most all rescue groups, stay near or at capacity most of the time. It is because of this pet overpopulation that we at the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County are raising money to host low income spay/neuter services and vaccine services to community members of Memphis to make pet vet care more affordable and accessible to Memphians, helping to reduce overpopulation and euthanasia.


Are you a no-kill shelter?

The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County never euthanizes an animal for time or space reasons. We only euthanize for medical or behavior reasons, such as when an animal is too injured or sick to survive and still maintain a good quality of life, or if an animal’s aggressive behavior shows him/her to be a danger to people, other animals, or himself.


What is your euthanasia policy?

HSMSC’s goal is to place every animal in our permanent custody however; there are times when an animal may be unadoptable due to severe illness, injury, or behavioral issues. We follow strict guidelines when making the rare determination that an animal is unadoptable and requires euthanasia for the humane treatment of the animal or the safety of HSMSC’s staff, volunteers, and members of the public. We consider each animal’s condition on a case by case basis. We continually strive to rehabilitate animals and elicit behavior modification in order to ultimately place animals successfully in loving homes.

Euthanasia may be indicated in instances where one or more of the following conditions exist:

  1. The animal is severely ill or injured.  Our goal is to avoid prolonging the animal’s suffering.
  2. The animal has inflicted a level 3 or greater wound pathology pursuant to the Dr. Ian Dunbar Dog Bite Scale, as published by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, or two or more bites of any level wound pathology.
  3. The animal shows an extreme behavioral problem that would endanger the health and safety of the HSMSC staff, volunteers or public.
  4. The animal shows an extreme behavioral problem and no human bond or connection exists, such as is demonstrated in a feral animal.

In instances where the reason for a dog’s euthanasia is related to severe behavioral issues, each animal will be assessed by a certified trainer using our objective behavior evaluation process. The evaluation currently used is based on Sue Sternberg’s “Assess-a-Pet” evaluation with modifications by Kelley Bollen, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, the former Director and currently a consultant for Behavior Programs for the Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. If indicated by the behavioral concerns and evaluation, the euthanasia will only take place after the Behavior Committee investigates alternative actions such as additional training with other professionals, medication, alternative placement with other specialized organizations, medical treatment and/or reconditioning that could result in the animal ultimately being safely placed in a home without endangering the health and safety of others. The Behavior Committee currently consists of the Executive Director, the Animal Care Manager, Vet Clinic Manager, Cruelty Investigator Officer, and the President of the Board of Directors or his/ her designee and decisions are made by a majority vote.

Recognizing that the decision of euthanasia is one that is never made lightly it will be unacceptable for staff, volunteers, Board members or other constituents of HSMSC to question any member of the Behavior Committee about decisions made. Respect and consideration for those tasked with making these difficult decisions will be demanded. Disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment or volunteering will result if this policy is violated. Behavior Committee deliberations shall remain confidential within the committee. The HSMSC takes its responsibility for the safety of our animals, employees, volunteers and the public very seriously.


How do I adopt an animal from you, and how do you decide who to adopt an animal to?

If you have an animal or a few animals you’re interested in adopting, the next step would be to fill out an adoption application, where you’ll answer questions about your lifestyle, living and housing situation, other pets, etc. Our goal with each adoption is ensuring that the adopter is the best fit for that particular animal. For example, we would prefer to send a high-energy dog home with someone who will put in the time to exercise and train the dog; we wouldn’t send home a cat-aggressive dog with someone who has cats; we might not want to send a large, hyper, untrained dog home with someone with small children, etc. There are many factors we take into consideration.

If you have pets or have had pets recently, we will need the name and contact information of your vet. We will contact your vet to ensure that your pets are up-to-date on vaccinations, well cared for, and spayed/neutered. We require all adopters to have other pets in the home (even outdoor pets) be vaccinated and spayed or neutered.


Why do you have so many pit bulls?

We take in injured and abused animals and, sadly, pit bulls in our community bear the brunt of abandonment, neglect, and abuse. Dogs of every breed, as well as cats, are victims of abuse, and as such we have many different breeds of dog and cat available for adoption, but at any given time, our dog population may be made up of between 30 to 50 percent pit bulls. Many people misunderstand pit bulls based on propaganda they have seen in movies, on TV and in the media. We invite you to come meet some of our dogs, get them out of their kennel and spend some time with them and then you can make your own decision. We think you’ll see that pit bulls are just like any other dog—they crave human attention and affection, are eager to please, and just want to be loved. For some examples of the kinds of people who welcome pit bulls into their families, check out our “We’re Pit Bull People” Facebook album here.


I’m looking for an outside dog (or cat). Do you have those?

We do not place dogs in homes where they will be “outside” dogs, nor do we allow our dogs to be chained up outside permanently. Dogs are social animals and want to be near their family—left outside all the time, they become bored and depressed. We choose adopters who will make the dog a cherished member of the family. Additionally, our Memphis summers are too extreme for dogs to live outside permanently; they can be and are deadly to animals and people in the height of summer. Though we have milder winters, there have been many cases of animals freezing to death outside. Likewise, we do not place cats in homes where they will be primarily “outside” cats.


I’m looking for a guard dog. Do you have those?

We will not place a dog in a home where his primary purpose is as a guard dog. A dog’s primary purpose is for companionship and as stated above, we choose adopters who will make the dog a cherished member of the family. Just about any well-cared-for dog—any breed of dog and any size dog—will make an effort to protect his family when needed; they needn’t be a “guard dog” to do that. Even the sound of a dog barking inside the house is often enough to deter criminal activity.


I want a declawed cat. Do you have those?

We never declaw cats and we do not recommend it. The declawing procedure is actually an amputation of the first joint of the toe, as if each of your fingers were cut off at the top knuckle. Declawed cats CAN sometimes have behavior issues stemming from their inability to protect themselves with their claws, including aggression toward other cats, problems using the litter box, etc. With that said, not all declawed cats experience these behavior problems. Though we don’t declaw cats, we do sometimes get cats who are already declawed. You may inquire with an adoption counselor as to whether we currently have any declawed cats. A great, humane alternative to declawing is using nail caps, available at any pet store. Nail caps come in different colors so your fun-loving cat can look like she just had a manicure, and they also come in clear for more dignified, serious cats. They have a dull edge that prevents snagging, tearing and other damage from nails.


How do I change the amount of my monthly donation?

If you would like to change the amount of your monthly donation, you can email donations@memphishumane.org with your specifications or call 901-937-3903 to speak to a member of our staff.  Thank you for your support!

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