published Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

No-kill animal activist leaving Bradley County SPCA

Beth Foster, media/development director for SPCA of Bradley County, addresses the Bradley County Commission in February. Foster will resign as SPCA's representative on July 1.
Beth Foster, media/development director for SPCA of Bradley County, addresses the Bradley County Commission in February. Foster will resign as SPCA's representative on July 1.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Beth Foster, a prominent figure of the local no-kill animal movement, will resign July 1 from her role as media/development director for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County.

In a June 6 resignation letter to SPCA board President Betti Gravelle, Foster asked that she no longer handle media requests on behalf of the organization.

"In the meantime [before I leave], I would prefer not to be public spokesperson for the SPCA ... I do not feel comfortable speaking as a representative of the organization at this point," Foster said in her resignation letter.

The organization provides animal sheltering services for county residents as part of an $80,000 annual agreement with Bradley County.

In her letter, Foster gave no reason for her departure. However, her resignation came a day after cellphone pictures surfaced on social media showing a number of dogs in small cages and carriers -- one of which was in a bathroom -- inside the SPCA shelter facility on Johnson Boulevard.

The two events are not related, and she did not see the cellphone pictures before submitting her resignation, Foster stated in an email Monday.

"I have no reason to believe the SPCA is doing anything wrong," Foster said of the photos.

Foster decided to leave the SPCA because of a workload associated with a long-term contract she has with a social justice organization.

Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones, who serves on the SPCA board, said via email that she was told the dogs were brought in and the staff was rearranging the kennels.

Rachel Veazey, a member of Animal Care and Control for Cleveland/Bradley County Now, the group that posted the pictures on its Facebook page, begs to differ.

"This is what hoarding animals looks like," Veazey said.

The loss of Foster is the second major personnel change for the SPCA, which lost its first shelter director, Jack Cooper, a week after the facility opened in mid-March.

Cooper left because of a "difference in philosophy," according to his resignation letter.

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

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