MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's been a long two years for the Memphis Animal Shelter. On the two year anniversary of the shelter raid by Shelby County Sheriff's Deputies, animal rights activists say the shelter has further to go.
"There still seems to be an attitude of defense and cover-ups," says Cindy Marx-Sanders, co-founder of Community Action for Animals.
Marx-Sanders used to serve on the Shelter Advisory Board. Since the raid, she's been vocal about the continuing problems.
"I think as long as the city keeps saying the staff is compassionate and well trained," Marx-Sanders tells abc24.com, "and we have officers being charged with animal cruelty, there's a problem."
When the shelter was raided October 27, 2009, she thought that would mean a fresh start, saving the animals from abuse, starvation and cruelty. Since then, negative reports have continued to come out about MAS, and they've become a global embarrassment on the internet.
"They've been trying for two years now," she says, "and that's a long time to try."
"It's made a lot of progress, but at the same time we have a long way to go," Mayor A C Wharton tells abc24.com.
Wharton says the shelter problem is a long, hard road to travel, and it's not something that can be fixed over night.
"For me, or anyone to suggest that just over the hill," says Wharton, "there's that perfect day, we'll be there in two months, no, no, no. The animal shelter will always be a work in progress."
The mayor's now working on personnel, a move to a new building and leading an effort to get GPS tracking devices in each animal control vehicle.
"If you look at all we've gone through in terms of the justified ridicule," says Wharton, "and the justified embarrassment, the loss of Kapone, it's well worth it. Our national image suffered because of that. Regardless of what they cost, it's worth it."
Wharton says he's not happy it's taking so long to turn things around, but says he continues to work on making the shelter better.
"Are we going through a lot?" he asks. "Has it consumed a lot of my time? Yes, it has. But if we make this place just one degree better at a time and stick with it, it will be well worth it."
Mayor Wharton says many of the shelter's problems are caused by the number of stray dogs in the city. The city is also looking into privatization of the shelter.