MEMPHIS, TN -- Call the Memphis Animal Shelter at night, and you’ll be directed to Memphis police.
Normally, Memphis Animal Control Officers respond to calls, investigate the scene and then call police, if needed. Now, during the nighttime hours, Memphis police officers will respond to animal calls and then decide if animal control officers are needed.
“I see it as an evolving process. One that is better for the animals and the citizens,” said the administrator of the Memphis Animal Shelter, Matthew Pepper.
Memphis police spokesperson Karen Rudolph said the change was in part the result of a situation abc24.com uncovered earlier this year.
A dog named Lucky was left tied to a tree so long, his collar was embedded into his neck. A communication breakdown between the police and animal control meant the dog sat there for days without getting help.
“To make sure there is no breakdown in communication, we along with animal control found it would be useful to have direct contact,” said Rudolph.
Those following the situation are concerned that the changes mean animal control officers have become glorified dog catchers. Instead of investigating cases, they will just pick up lost and stray animals.
Critics are also concerned police will spend more time than needed running to calls involving animals, and less time on calls involving people.