published Friday, September 6th, 2013

Temporary animal control fix proposed in Bradley County

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A committee has proposed a couple of short-term animal control solutions for Bradley County.

County residents who live outside Cleveland city limits have been without animal drop-off or pickup services, previously handled through the Cleveland Animal Shelter, since July 1. The situation is the result of the failure of county commissioners and Cleveland City Council members to agree on the county's portion of the shelter budget.

On Thursday, committee members -- Dale Hughes and George Poe of the Cleveland City Council and Charlotte Peak-Jones and Bill Winters of the County Commission -- agreed to recommend temporarily reinstating the animal control contract between the city and county for either three months for $75,000 or six months for $120,000.

It costs $25,000 per month for the Cleveland shelter to handle pickups and drop-offs originating in the county, City Manager Janice Casteel said.

A three-month agreement was "putting a Band-Aid" on the issue and the county would need at least six months to work out a more permanent solution, said Hughes, who offered to reduce the cost by $5,000 per month if the county agreed to six months of service.

Peak-Jones and Winters also sought options for an emergency-only pickups of aggressive or abused animals.

Peak-Jones said the service would not have prevented recently reported incidents of children being bitten by stray dogs.

Animal rescuer Rachel Veazey, who serves on the committee, said the chances for such occurrences might have been reduced if the city had picked up its regular share of county animals in the last two months.

Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford asked if some type of emergency response could be set up between county and Cleveland law enforcement.

Protocols requiring one set of measures for the city and another for the county would be impractical, said Capt. Dennis Maddux of the Cleveland Police Department, which oversees the animal control division.

The creation of the c committee followed public outcry at County Commission and City Council meetings in July and August about the lack of county animal control. An online petition, started by Veazey, has been signed by 400 people identifying themselves as county residents.

Winters said a long-term dialogue also is needed, and he recommended the city and county partner to build a platform for nonprofit or other private organizations to address Bradley's animal control issues.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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