published Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Bradley County, Cleveland, Tenn., seek animal control solution

Mariah Betancourt pets a dog through a kennel cage at the Cleveland Animal Control Shelter while looking with her fiance for a dog or cat to adopt in Cleveland, Tenn. A five-member committee made up of two Cleveland City Council members, two Bradley County Commissioners, and animal rescue worker Rachel Veazey is being formed to address providing animal control services to county residents.
Mariah Betancourt pets a dog through a kennel cage at the Cleveland Animal Control Shelter while looking with her fiance for a dog or cat to adopt in Cleveland, Tenn. A five-member committee made up of two Cleveland City Council members, two Bradley County Commissioners, and animal rescue worker Rachel Veazey is being formed to address providing animal control services to county residents.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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    A dog stares from inside a kennel at the Cleveland Animal Control Shelter in Cleveland, Tenn.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County is seeking both short-term and long-term solutions to the lack of animal control services available to county residents who live outside Cleveland city limits.

Animal pickup and drop off services, made available through the Cleveland Animal Shelter, have been limited to city residents since July 1 after a failure between the Bradley County Commission and the Cleveland City Council to reach an agreement regarding the county's portion of the shelter budget.

Those services may possibly return to the county on a temporary basis, based on a recent recommendation by an ad hoc committee formed of Bradley County and Cleveland leaders.

On Monday, the Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 to accept an agreement with the county for either three months or six months, at a cost of $75,000 or $120,000, respectively.

"I believe this is a step forward in helping them, to let them know that we want to help resolve the animal problem," said Councilman Dale Hughes, who served as chairman of the ad hoc committee.

The Bradley County Commission will hold a special meeting today to vote if it will accept either option.

Regarding ongoing animal control services, the Bradley County Mayor's Office has requested proposals from "an entity or organization committed to the humane rescue and sheltering of animals to enter into a lease of Bradley County-owned facilities," which will be operated by that entity or organization.

The notice stated the operator is required to accept and shelter all domestic animals delivered to the operator and to provide 24-hour retrieval and sheltering services for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.

To qualify, any entities or organizations must show they are legally organized and committed to humane animal rescue and shelter operations, be able to obtain $1 million in comprehensive general liability insurance and have the ability to staff and operate a shelter capable of serving Bradley County.

"That way the people who are truly concerned about the subject are the ones taking care of the problem," said Davis of the measure that would place animal control in private hands.

He said he expects proposals to include requests from the county in the form of one-time startup money and annual contributions, much like the county's donations to nonprofits.

Should the proposal process fail to yield satisfactory results, Commissioner Adam Lowe recommended that the county explore the possibility of offering a challenge grant where the county sets the parameters of a rescue and shelter operation.

Interested parties must submit proposals to the Bradley County Mayor's Office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. For more information, contact the Bradley County Mayor's Office at 423-728-7146.

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

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