CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Cleveland Animal Shelter's board is recommending changes in an effort to improve accountability with rescue groups that work with the shelter.
On Wednesday, the board voted 3-0 to charge a $10 background check fee for each new rescue-group volunteer operating at the shelter and require rescue groups to provide documentation of spay/neuter status and the final placement of animals they pull from the municipal shelter.
Board member Teresa Anderson abstained from the vote, asking for more time to review the proposed amendments.
"The [City Council] is asking that we revise the agreement," City Manager Janice Casteel said. "They're the ones who are really pushing to get something in place."
Before an animal may be placed with an adopter, a rescue group must provide written verification of spay/neuter surgery on the animal, according to the proposed amendment.
The proposal also requires that adopters' names, addresses and contact information must be provided to the city shelter when a rescue group permanently places an animal.
The City Council's push for the new measures is an attempt to avoid having any Cleveland shelter animals wind up again with a rescue group such as the Puppy Patch of Morristown, Tenn., said Dr. Robert Taylor, a former member and officer of the shelter board.
A mid-February raid on the home that housed the Puppy Patch resulted in more than 60 counts of animal cruelty against its operators.
Nashville rescuers helping with the animal retrieval operation there described the feces-filled home as a "house of horrors," according to news archives.
The Puppy Patch had received seven dogs and 15 puppies from the Cleveland Animal Shelter through facilitation by Dixie Day Spay of Cleveland, Tenn., between December and February, according to Beth Foster. She is a representative for Dixie Day Spay and animal welfare groups Cleveland for a No-Kill City and SPCA of Bradley County.
No one associated with Dixie Day Spay or Cleveland for a No-Kill City visited the Puppy Patch, which had been given good references, she said.
Animal welfare activists at the meeting questioned how the requirement for adoptive placement documentation would work in regard to rescue networks.
In a case in which an approved rescue group places animals with another organization, then that receiving group's information will be required instead, Casteel said. The requirement for spay/neuter documentation would be the same, she said.
The proposed changes will come before the Cleveland City Council at its Monday meeting.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.