published Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Memphis sending euthanized animals to landfill

MEMPHIS — Animals euthanized at the Memphis Animal Shelter are being buried in a landfill after a city incinerator failed, officials said.

The incinerator is operated by the Memphis Public Works Division. It typically handles the disposal of animals at the city shelter and animals that die at Memphis homes.

But with the incinerator broken, the dead animals are being sent to a landfill. In a memo, Mayor A C Wharton’s chief of staff Bobby White said the animals in Memphis are buried separately from other areas of the landfill. The memo also says the landfill is lined to prevent liquids from seeping out, The Commercial Appeal reported.

George Little, the city’s chief administrative officer, says there are no plans to repair the incinerator because of the cost involved.

“The incinerator is shut down,” Little said. “The carcasses of the dead animals are being disposed in the landfill. It is my understanding that is an acceptable method of disposal.”

Animal rights activist Beverly King said she hopes workers make certain the animals are dead before they’re put in the landfill.

Animal welfare issues have plagued the shelter. The city said last week it would submit requests for proposals from groups who want to operate it.

Cindy Sanders, a former member of the Memphis Animal Services advisory board, said the new disposal method might be legal, “but it’s not acceptable in any stretch of the imagination.”

“This city seems to have no problem in treating our animals as discarded garbage,” Sanders said. “Now they’re taking the final step of just dumping them in the landfill. They can’t give them dignity in death and they can’t give them dignity after death.”

The city also has announced that it will no longer use Web cameras when it moves to a new shelter facility this fall. The cameras were installed after a raid by law enforcement officials in October 2009.

Employees had asked that the Web camera transmissions stop immediately, but they will stay working while the city remains in the current shelter. Only internal security cameras will be used when the city moves to the new shelter.

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