'Just-horrible': Dog after dog, more than 240 in all, seized from 'wretched' conditions in Bradley County

'Just-horrible': Dog after dog, more than 240 in all, seized from 'wretched' conditions in Bradley County

June 12th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News


The SPCA of Bradley County is asking for help from the public in the wake of the puppy mill raid in McDonald.

Officials are asking for:

• Financial donations. The Paypal account is donations@spcaofbradleycountytn.org.

• Adoptions of dogs and cats already at the shelter, located at 1570 Johnson Blvd. in Cleveland.

• Supplies including bowls, leashes, crates and dog food.

• Volunteers to help feed, water and exercise current shelter animals, to do laundry and more. Interested people should email development@spcaofbradleycountytn.org before coming to the shelter so officials can make sure volunteers are scheduled to cover all shifts.

Source: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County

A collection of young Beagles look out of their temporary transport cage inside Ruth Smith's Jeep Cherokee after they, and dozens of other dogs, were found in deplorable conditions Wednesday at 1420 Candies Creek Road in Bradley County.

A collection of young Beagles look out of...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

McDONALD, Tenn. - More than 240 dogs, mainly beagles and smaller breeds, were discovered in "wretched" conditions at a southern Bradley County home Wednesday morning by deputies answering a call about a "verbal domestic" situation, sheriff's officials and animal rights personnel said.

"Once deputies addressed the domestic situation, two detectives arrived to investigate concerns regarding the animals," said Bob Gault, spokesman for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. He said law enforcement then called the SPCA of Bradley County for help.

The owners of the home at 1420 Candies Creek Road SW kept most of the animals in poor conditions, according to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals workers at the scene Wednesday afternoon.

"[I saw] dog after dog, puppy after puppy in just horrible conditions," said Ashley Crittenden, a volunteer with SPCA. "I mean five or six dogs in one kennel, and there's no telling how long it's been [since] these dogs have been cleaned. It's horrible."

Rebecca Vanmetter, who owns the animals, surrendered most of them to the SPCA, said a visibly upset Bobbi Anderson, director of the Bradley County SPCA shelter. However, Vanmetter wants to retain at least a dozen dogs that she kept in the house, she said.

"She knows she needs help," Anderson said.

Originally, Vanmetter had agreed to let media representatives on the property if they would put out a "positive" message calling for assistance, but she later changed her mind, Anderson said.

While some of the animals were kept in relatively clean open-air fenced pens on the property, most were not, she said.

"In the outbuilding where the kennels were kept, there were feces everywhere," Anderson said. "Some of the feces were so old, they had mildewed."

All the animals need vaccinations and examinations, she said. A handful of them have mange.

"The beagles will not be made immediately available for adoption," SPCA media director Beth Foster said in a news release. "We are working with rescues around the country to find them safe places."

Anderson said no shelter is ready or able to accept this many animals at once.

The SPCA has received some respirator masks that will be used in kennel cleanup operations, but much more help is needed to address the crisis, organization representatives said.

Gault said Wednesday evening that the investigation was ongoing and no charges had been filed.

The SPCA of Bradley County, a private organization, provides animal pickup services on behalf of the county's emergency responders as part of an $80,000 annual animal sheltering agreement with Bradley County.

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