published Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Official calls on Bradley SPCA head to resign

  • photo
    Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones
    Photo by Paul Leach /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A board member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County who abruptly quit this week now is calling for the chapter president, Betti Gravelle, to resign.

"I believe SPCA can be functional and a great benefit to our community if the current president would resign from the SPCA," Charlotte Peak-Jones said in a news release.

Peak-Jones, who also is a Bradley County commissioner, said concerns about conflicts of interest involving Gravelle have been taken to the state comptroller.

In addition to her role as chapter president, Gravelle has been involved in day-to-day operations of the organization's animal shelter, said Peak-Jones.

Another conflict is that Gravelle is the executive director of Dixie Day Spay, which provides low-cost spay/neuter services to SPCA of Bradley County, Peak-Jones said.

Gravelle has not responded to recent attempts to reach her by phone or email.

Before her abrupt resignation during a tumultuous board meeting Monday, Peak-Jones presented documentation regarding SPCA's operating plans and policies and warned that they were not being followed. She also criticized Gravelle's recently stated plan of relying on Cleveland For a No-Kill City as her rescue network "army."

Peak-Jones walked out of the meeting shortly after the board voted 5-3 to fire shelter director Bobbi Anderson after Gravelle raised allegations of insubordination.

"I don't know anyone else who would have put up with the harassment, threats, and daily accusations I endured from Cleveland For a No-Kill City and Dixie Day Spay on a daily basis," Anderson said in a statement Wednesday.

Gravelle has complained that Cleveland For a No Kill City has not been allowed to "move animals out," while Anderson and treasurer Jack Burke say the group refused to comply with documentation procedures before taking animals from the shelter.

Peak-Jones and Anderson's departures followed the mid-July resignation of SPCA secretary Josh Serum, who admitted using Anderson's login to remotely access the shelter's computer system after he had been denied access.

His goal was only to access animal intake and adoption data, he said.

"It wasn't any sort of data breach," said Serum. "I did it to maintain transparency with the board."

Peak-Jones blasted Serum's actions, saying she was appalled.

The SPCA provides animal sheltering and emergency pickup services for all Bradley County residents under an $80,000 annual contract with the county.

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

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