MEMPHIS, TN – Animal advocates hope two new billboards will draw attention to problems at the Memphis Animal Shelter.
The billboards popped up on I-240 near Perkins two days after a Memphis animal control officer was charged with animal cruelty.
One billboard says, “Where’s Kapone?" It's in reference to a dog that vanished last month in the hands of a city animal control worker. It also advertises the reward money being offered for information leading to Kapone, which now stands at $8,000.
That animal control worker, Demetria Hogan, is a convicted felon who now faces two counts of animal cruelty in connection to the Kapone incident.
Hogan took two dogs into custody, Kapone and Jersey, on June 24, 2011, after they escaped their Cordova yard. Hogan said she took both dogs to the shelter, but according to police records, video surveillance shows Kapone ever made it there. Court records also said Hogan left the second dog in the truck for more than four hours.
At the courthouse, making her first appearance before a judge on Thursday, July 14th, Hogan refused to answer reporters' questions. Her lawyer, however, did.
“All my client has to say," attorney Erika Eubanks told abc24.com, "is that she didn’t do this and she is not guilty of anything. The city has been having problems with the shelter for some time now, and this is another situation where they blame the problems on the employees.”
A second billboard asks Mayor A C Wharton to reform the Memphis Animal Shelter.
abc24.com asked Mayor Wharton to respond to the issues at the city pound.
“We will stand up and take responsibility for our shortcomings," he said, but also added the public is part of the problem by not addressing pet overpopulation.
“The conduct of employees has changed and will change," said Wharton, "but the question is what are we doing as a society to stop the abuses of these animals?"
Wharton reminded abc24.com he has fired people at the shelter in the past and will continue firing workers when necessary.
When Wharton took office in 2009, he promised to clean up the troubled shelter.
While there have been changes, Wharton admitted there are still issues.
“We have a new shelter opening up in a couple of weeks," he said. "Mark my words, you all will be standing in front of me with another situation."