Bradley County SPCA stops admitting animals as director calls for new contract with county

Bradley County SPCA stops admitting animals as director calls for new contract with county

July 26th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

The sign outside of the shelter operated by the SPCA of Bradley County, Tenn., says the facility is full and is not accepting animals. The private shelter provides animal sheltering services for county residents in accordance with an $80,000 annual agreement.

Photo by Paul Leach/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The no-kill shelter operated by the SPCA of Bradley County has stopped accepting animals and Director Bobbi Anderson said its contract with the county needs to be renegotiated.

Anderson said the shelter, which serves county residents under an $80,000 agreement with Bradley County, cannot realistically function as a no-kill operation with an open admission policy with such limited funds.

"Bills rise and the more animals you get, the more disease, the more money [it takes]," she said. "It's not possible."

She said she is taking this measure to prevent overcrowding and avoid having to euthanize animals for space.

"This community doesn't understand the necessity for disease control, and when you reach a certain capacity disease runs rampant and they [the animals] are going to die anyway," Anderson said.

Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones, who is one of the county's representatives on the SPCA board, expressed surprise over Anderson's decision.

"My understanding is that contract will not be up for renegotiation until next year," she said.

The SPCA of Bradley County will have a special called meeting on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Bradley County Courthouse.

Jack Burke, treasurer for the SPCA chapter, said he's been concerned about the shelter's capacity.

"I've requested that the board address and set a capacity for the shelter on a number of occasions, but it has not been addressed," he said.

The last two regular board meetings, scheduled in June and July, were canceled for lack of a quorum.

Peak-Jones, in an email Friday afternoon, expressed conditional support for Anderson's actions.

"I support the decision made by the Director to not take any animals in at this time because the care of those animals can't be properly maintained when the facility is full," the email stated.

"However, the Director does not have the authority to negotiate or renegotiate contracts with anyone including the County Contract. That is the Board of Director's [sic] job."

SPCA board president Betti Gravelle, who is also executive director of Dixie Day Spay, said the shelter is not using all the resources and rescue partners that are available.

Anderson said accountability has been a big challenge in some of the shelter's relationships with some members of the rescue community.

"We have so many animals right now that we don't know where they are, and it's unacceptable," she said. "I won't stand for it anymore."

She said that before she took over as director in early April, there were no forms to document who took animals from the shelter.

"I don't want our animals to wind up in a place like the Puppy Patch," she said.

The Puppy Patch was an animal rescue operation based in Morristown, Tenn., whose feces-covered facility was raided in mid-February, resulting in more than 60 charges of animal cruelty against its owners.

It was discovered that Dixie Day Spay helped the Puppy Patch pull more than 20 dogs and puppies from the Cleveland Animal Shelter.

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