Report: shelter employees had ties to dogfighting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- A report on the Memphis Animal Shelter says some of its employees had ties to illegal dogfighting rings.

The investigation by the Memphis Rotary Club also found workers believe some employees are exempt from shelter rules.

Mayor A C Wharton reviewed the 22-page report he received Wednesday from the club's Animal Shelter Evaluation Committee and said he was taking it immediately to the district attorney's office, according to The Commercial Appeal.

The report noted that many of the dogs brought to the shelter are pit bulls, which are used for dogfighting, and the potential for criminal activity is increased because of it.

"The employees at every level, while not willing to say so on the record, will readily volunteer that there has been a relationship between certain individuals and the illicit dog-fighting rings in the community," the report said.

Shelby County Sheriff's deputies raided the old shelter in October 2009, finding abused or neglected animals. The director, a veterinarian and an administrative supervisor were ultimately indicted on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.

The city opened a new shelter on Tuesday -- a facility that is already full.

The Rotary report said a public education campaign about dogfighting will be necessary to correct the city's "attitude that animals are disposable."

"Until this is addressed, the shelter will continue to be overloaded, and not logistically capable of approaching any semblance of a no-kill facility," the report said.

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