published Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Bradley County to review shelter contract

Bradley County Commissioners Charlotte Peak-Jones,left, and Jeff Yarber listen to discussions regarding the county's $80,000 annual agreement with the no-kill animal shelter operated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County.
Bradley County Commissioners Charlotte Peak-Jones,left, and Jeff Yarber listen to discussions regarding the county's $80,000 annual agreement with the no-kill animal shelter operated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County.
Photo by Paul Leach.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Commission is planning to re-evaluate aspects of its $80,000 annual agreement with the private, no-kill animal shelter operated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County.

In a recent meeting, several measures came before the commission in response to instances of the shelter refusing to accept animals and implementing a waiting list because of overcrowding.

All of those measures -- which included giving official notice of violation of contract, renegotiating intake requirements and negotiating a temporary animal control contract with Cleveland's municipal animal shelter -- failed.

"It's a sad day in Bradley County when we start making frivolous motions to simply not say we may have made a mistake here," Commissioner Jeff Yarber said.

A motion by Yarber to issue a 30-day notice to fix the problems to SPCA resulted in a 8-3 vote against it. Commissioners Brian Smith and J. Adam Lowe, who serves as commission vice chairman, supported Yarber.

Although the shelter has resumed accepting all animals since July 28, Yarber said his intention was to provide a written record of the county's position.

The contractual requirements of the shelter's acceptance of animals are open to interpretation, Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said.

"They are not in violation today," she said.

The agreement also does not address how often or how many times the shelter can violate the contract before the county may end it, Peak-Jones said.

Before that vote, an attempt was made by Commissioner Ed Elkins to have the commission vote instead on whether to establish a shelter capacity that would "trigger" limitations on intake.

"I don't think that we should be going in and saying ... we find you in breach of contract here when it's pretty much of an impossible situation for them to react to," Elkins said.

Elkins' proposal failed in a 6-5 vote.

Commissioners Mel Griffith, Mark Hall, Connie Wilson and Peak-Jones supported Elkins' measure, while Bill Winters, Jeff Morelock, Robert Rominger, Yarber, Smith and Lowe opposed it.

Yarber's call for a temporary animal control agreement with Cleveland failed in an 8-3 vote.

Winters voiced concerns about record-keeping and assurances by SPCA officials that partner groups would readily alleviate the facility's animal population.

According to shelter proposal discussions cited by commissioners, $20,000 in monthly fundraising would be needed in addition to the county's $80,000 annual contribution.

The shelter has not received anything close to that level of fundraising, and operating an open intake, no-kill shelter with county money alone is not possible, shelter director Bobbi Anderson said.

In other business, Peak-Jones announced that the shelter finally has received 501(3)c nonprofit status.

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

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