published Thursday, October 24th, 2013

East Ridge Animal Services supervisor resigns

Jonathan Cooper statement

Jonathan Cooper issued the following statement after the print deadline:

I'm very proud of my service with the City of East Ridge Animal Services Division and the many accomplishments we achieved together during my time there. I'm especially proud of the fact that during my 2 years as the head of the division, we reduced euthanasia to 3% and became Tennessee's first and only "NO KILL" municipal animal control facility. I wish my former staff, who are some of the most dedicated and compassionate people I know, as well as all of the other hardworking East Ridge employees good fortune and good luck in the future. After 8 years of service to the City of East Ridge, I decided that it was time for me to pursue other endeavors.

The East Ridge Animal Services supervising officer has stepped down.

Jonathan Hunt Cooper, who was arrested earlier this month, resigned from his position on Friday. He was suspended at the time, and the East Ridge Police Department was investigating whether Cooper broke any city rules related to the arrest. That investigation since has ended without a conclusion.

Cooper, 37, was arrested on Oct. 6 along with his wife, 35-year-old Sara Elizabeth Cooper. Chattanooga police charged Jonathan Cooper with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

City Manager Andrew Hyatt said Wednesday that he is unsure how he will replace Cooper, but right now Officer Andrea Dillard is in charge. Hyatt, who joined the city on Monday, wants to wait 30 days before evaluating how the animal service department is operating.

"If needed," he said, "we'll open the position up."

When Cooper was initially suspended, City Services Director Freida Wheeler said police officers would temporarily step in and help animal services. On Wednesday, Hyatt said that officers will check in with the department, but no police officer will work there.

Cooper could not be reached for comment.

On Oct. 6, according to an arrest report, Chattanooga police responded to a report from neighbors that one person was assaulting another person at 2 Rivervista Drive. There they found the Coopers cut, bruised and bloodied.

Some neighbors told officers that they saw a fight, but neither Jonathan nor Sara Cooper said they hit each other. Both said they got hurt when they fell.

Jonathan Cooper is scheduled to appear Dec. 12 before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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