SLAPP my ass and call me Shirley
My good friend Shirley Thistlewaite who blogs over at YesBiscuit has put an enormous amount of work into covering conditions at Memphis Animal Shelter (MAS).
It’s heart-breaking work. Almost three-quarters of the animals taken in at MAS are killed and problems at the facility have been so severe and so well documented that two years ago the city caved to pressure and installed webcams so concerned animal lovers could check in on conditions.
Shirley has been blogging about conditions and writing letters to Memphis shelter staff and politicians in an effort to improve conditions for the animals there. As part of this effort she recently started raising funds to help pay for the care of some of the small number of lucky animals rescued from MAS. One dog has already been helped by Shirley’s fund.
Unfortunately, it seems that the folks in charge down in Memphis would rather kill pets than save them and, apparently, they feel very strongly about this because when Shirley contacted MAS director Matthew Pepper offering to donate funds to help two sick dogs, Memphis City Attorney Herman Morris Jr. responded by finding a convenient but obscure bit of legislation to use as a hammer and then using said hammer to hit her with a lovely cease and desist letter.
Mr. Morris did not call her. He didn’t send her a letter. Or an email. Or comment on her blog. Or do any of the other things that a caring, ethical person would do if he wanted to communicate with someone about a potential problem.
Nosirree. As Shirley put it:
The city just wanted me to do the whole ZOMG I gots a letter from a berry skeery lawyerman freak out thing which, I’m sure they hoped, would lead to a I should just shut my pie hole about how they mistreat and needlessly kill pets at MAS unless I want to go directly to jail freak out.
Sadly for Mr. Morris, Ms. Thistlewaite is not so easily dissuaded. And neither are her friends. I would like to suggest that Mr. Morris review the text of the Tennessee Anti-SLAPP Act of 1997. Or perhaps Ms. Thistlewaite would like to discuss the Act with the Tennessee Attorney General’s office?
UPDATED 4:40 pm – Shirley hits back with a letter to the Tennessee Attorney General!