CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County commissioners hope to decide before year's end on the feasibility of placing county animal control services in private hands.
A few more meetings with private organizations and city officials will be needed before that can be done, said Commissioner Bill Winters, who serves on a pair of committees created to explore partnering with the private sector for animal control needs.
Two animal rescue groups -- The Ark of Cleveland and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County -- have been talking with county officials since September.
Commissioners Ed Elkins and Terry Caywood recently said they have received more calls and emails about the county's animal control decision than any other issue.
Through emails, Facebook and other social media, the SPCA and The Ark have asked supporters to contact commissioners.
The biggest concern for him, Winters said, was whether either group can sustain operations. Both groups' proposals rely on them securing grants and donations.
"If they fail in a year, then it comes right back to the Bradley County Commission," he said.
The Ark has estimated $347,780 in operating expenses and revenue of $38,700 generated by $90 animal adoptions, leaving the need for $240,000 in annual support from Bradley County. Most of that -- $220,000 -- is expected to go toward paying the city to provide animal pickup services. Ark personnel would operate the shelter and adoption programs.
The Ark is a faith-based, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. It now operates a facility that houses up to 30 animals.
The SPCA of Bradley County's proposal estimated that it would need $80,000 in county support and would receive $36,000 in donations annually. The group said it would provide its own staff and van to provide animal pickup services.
According to minutes from a Nov. 13 meeting with county officials, SPCA President Betti Gravelle said her organization had applied for 501(c)(3) status and expected to receive that status within 30 to 45 days.
SPCA of Bradley County is associated with Cleveland For a No-Kill City, which has worked to increase adoptions at the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
Bradley officials also are involved in talks with Cleveland officials on the possibility of jointly supporting a private organization that would operate the city animal shelter but retain city animal control officers for animal pickups.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.