When the Memphis Animal Shelter’s incinerator recently malfunctioned, workers at the facility began disposing of animal carcasses in a local landfill. Predictably, strong criticism followed.
“This is disgusting,” a reader commented on a July 28 Commercial Appeal story detailing the incident. “What’s wrong with using a private crematorium or one at a surrounding city or county? If the average Joe Citizen disposed of his pet this way and was discovered, I bet he/she would be arrested or fined.”
In Davidson County, matters aren’t so dire: The city’s incinerator is working fine. But with 100-degree heat straining strays, animal control field workers and equipment, pet care is at a premium.
“Animals we find now, because of the heat, are usually dehydrated or already in a full-blown heat stroke,” said Judy Ladebauche, Metro Animal Care and Control executive director.
Ladebauche said animal control euthanizes unclaimed animals as a last resort. Staff members consider incineration the most respectful and sanitary manner of disposal.
With that in mind, Ladebauche — who’s also president of the Animal Control Association of Tennessee — said she’s concerned about the Memphis shelter.
“I had been aware of many of the challenges the [facility] has faced during the past several years,” she said. “The incinerator is just one of many issues they are dealing with. Certainly, the association is willing to offer guidance.”
Brent Hager, director of the Metro Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health, said Nashville’s incinerator is in “good operating condition.”
“If there are any signs of trouble, we have a company that can visit even after-hours or on nights,” Hager said.
Though some animals are “not adoptable,” according to the city’s standards, Hager said Metro’s euthanasia rate has dropped about 7.8 percent annually since fiscal year 2008-09.
As the heat blisters, though, Ladebauche was blunt in her wisdom for pet owners.
“It’s so important that animals have shelter and a source of water all the time,” she reminded.