MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A new independent audit of the Memphis Animal Shelter found a link between shelter employees and "illicit dog fighting rings." Now, Mayor A C Wharton is promising a criminal investigation.
"We appreciate the report, and will move on it quickly," Mayor Wharton tells abc24.com.
The 22-page report, conducted by the Memphis Rotary Club, was released on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. It found several systematic flaws in the shelter, including a widespread issue with favoritism.
"Whether this is a result of personal relationships, or a misguided attempt to favor certain groups or categories, is unclear," the report states. "It is, however, a major problem."
"We are going to move in a very calm, composed manner," says Wharton.
The audit also found a lack of employee training, calling it "haphazard or non-existent."
Additionally, the report found allegations of dog-fighting involving employees.
"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 illicit dog fighting rings," the report says.
"We need them on the record so we can prosecute these individuals, and I don't have subpoena power to make people talk," the mayor says.
Wharton plans to hand the report over to Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich on Thursday morning.
The report also offers suggestions, from comprehensive video surveillance at the shelter's new facility, to GPS tracking devices in all shelter vehicles.