Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County the same thing as Memphis Animal Services?
No. HSMSC is totally separate from Memphis Animal Services, which is Memphis’ municipal, government-run animal control facility. HSMSC is a private nonprofit with a mission of rescuing and rehabilitating injured and abused animals. We are a limited-intake facility and we accept only animals fitting the criteria of our mission: injured and/or abused. Memphis Animal Services is an open-admission facility and they accept any and every animal brought to them.

How is the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County funded?
The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County is funded ENTIRELY on donations from people and businesses. We receive no government funding. We do receive grant funding from various foundations when we apply for it and are awarded it. We are 100% reliant on the generosity and support of the public to stay in operation.

Are you a no-kill shelter?
The Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County never euthanizes an animal for time or space reasons. We only euthanize for medical or behavior reasons, such as when an animal is too injured or sick to survive and still maintain a good quality of life, or if an animal’s aggressive behavior shows him/her to be a danger to people.

I found a dog or a cat; will you take him/her?
We accept only animals that are injured and/or abused as determined by our veterinary staff. We are, unfortunately, unable to accept stray animals that do not fit this criteria. Since we never euthanize for time or space, there are times when our facility is simply full and we do not have the space to bring in another animal. The need in the Memphis community is immense, and we, along with most all rescue groups, stay near or at capacity most of the time. It is because of this pet overpopulation that we at the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County are raising money to put a mobile spay/neuter unit on the streets of Memphis to make pet sterilization more affordable and accessible to Memphians, helping to reduce overpopulation and euthanasia.

I would like to report animal cruelty. How do I do that?
Please call our cruelty investigator at 901-937-3910 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the address of the animal, as well as the potential violations. Please remember that we are limited as to federal, state, city and county laws. For example, even though it is our position that permanently chaining a dog is inhumane, it is legal in our community, so there’s nothing our cruelty investigator can do in that situation other than try to educate the pet owner. Education DOES work sometimes! But we are only legally able to seize animals in situations where the owners are breaking the law. We are unable to send the cruelty investigator or ambulance staff out to search for an animal who is on the move. We can only respond to complaints and tips about dogs and cats who are confined in a single location.

Why do you have so many pit bulls?
We take in injured and abused animals and, sadly, pit bulls in our community bear the brunt of abandonment, neglect, and abuse. Dogs of every breed, as well as cats, are victims of abuse, and as such we have many different breeds of dog and cat available for adoption, but at any given time, our dog population may be made up of between 30 to 50 percent pit bulls. Many people misunderstand pit bulls based on propaganda they have seen in movies, on TV and in the media. We invite you to come meet some of our dogs, get them out of their kennel and spend some time with them and then you can make your own decision. We think you’ll see that pit bulls are just like any other dog—they crave human attention and affection, are eager to please, and just want to be loved. For some examples of the kinds of people who welcome pit bulls into their families, check out our Facebook album here.

How do I adopt an animal from you, how do you decide who to adopt an animal to?
If you have an animal or a few animals you’re interested in adopting, the next step would be to fill out an adoption application, where you’ll answer questions about your lifestyle, living and housing situation, other pets, etc. Our goal with each adoption is ensuring that the adopter is the best fit for that particular animal. For example, we would prefer to send a high-energy dog home with someone who will put in the time to exercise and train the dog; we wouldn’t send home a cat-aggressive dog with someone who has cats; we might not want to send a large, hyper, untrained dog home with someone with small children, etc. There are many factors we take into consideration. If you have pets or have had pets recently, we will need the name and contact information of your vet. We will contact your vet to ensure that your pets are up-to-date on vaccinations, well cared for, and spayed/neutered. We require all adopters to have other pets in the home (even outdoor pets) be vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

I’m looking for an outside dog (or cat). Do you have those?
We do not place dogs in homes where they will be “outside” dogs, nor do we allow our dogs to be chained up outside permanently. Dogs are social animals and want to be near their family—left outside all the time, they become bored and depressed. We choose adopters who will make the dog a cherished member of the family. Additionally, our Memphis summers are too extreme for dogs to live outside permanently; they can be and are deadly to animals and people in the height of summer. Though we have milder winters, there have been many cases of animals freezing to death outside. Likewise, we do not place cats in homes where they will be primarily “outside” cats.

I’m looking for a guard dog. Do you have those?
We will not place a dog in a home where his primary purpose is as a guard dog. A dog’s primary purpose is for companionship and as stated above, we choose adopters who will make the dog a cherished member of the family. Just about any well-cared-for dog—any breed of dog and any size dog—will make an effort to protect his family when needed; they needn’t be a “guard dog” to do that. Even the sound of a dog barking inside the house is often enough to deter criminal activity.

I want a declawed cat. Do you have those?
We never declaw cats and we do not recommend it. The declawing procedure is actually an amputation of the first joint of the toe, as if each of your fingers were cut off at the top knuckle. Declawed cats CAN sometimes have behavior issues stemming from their inability to protect themselves with their claws, including aggression toward other cats, problems using the litter box, etc. With that said, not all declawed cats experience these behavior problems. Though we don’t declaw cats, we do sometimes get cats who are already declawed. You may inquire with an adoption counselor as to whether we currently have any declawed cats. A great, humane alternative to declawing is using nail caps, available at any pet store. Nail caps come in different colors so your fun-loving cat can look like she just had a manicure, and they also come in clear for more dignified, serious cats. They have a dull edge that prevents snagging, tearing and other damage from nails.

Does HSMSC have a whistleblower policy in accordance with the IRS requirements for nonprofits?
Yes, we do have a policy in place to prevent or alert us to internal fraud or misconduct. Click here to see the full policy.


Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County · 935 Farm Road · Memphis TN, 38134 · 901.937.3900

Hours of Operation:
Saturday/Sunday: 10am-6pm
Monday/Thursday: CLOSED
Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday: 1-6pm

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