Bradley County SPCA fires shelter director; board member resigns from post

Bradley County SPCA fires shelter director; board member resigns from post

August 20th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Bradley County, Tenn., Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones, center, walks out of a recent board meeting of the SPCA of Bradley County. She had abruptly resigned moments before, shortly after the board voted 5-3 to ratify President Betti Gravelle's decision to fire shelter director Bobbi Anderson. Sitting, from left in foreground, are board members Dan Rawls, Gravelle and Mark Hall.

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

Volunteer Angela Kimsey takes a moment to visit with a cat while she cleans up a the SPCA of Bradley County Animal Shelter.

Volunteer Angela Kimsey takes a moment to visit...

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County has fired the second director of its private shelter, an action that prompted the immediate resignation of board member Charlotte Peak-­Jones, a Bradley County commissioner.

In a heated Monday night meeting at the Bradley County Courthouse, shelter director Bobbi Anderson lost her job after a 5­-3 vote ratified a decision by SPCA President Betti Gravelle to fire her.

Gravelle cited, among other grievances, an "organizational failure" to respond to a deputy's request to pick up an aggressive dog that later bit a resident.

The SPCA is required to provide animal sheltering and emergency animal pickup services for county residents in accordance with an $80,000 annual agreement with Bradley County.

Before the vote, Gravelle simply stated that Anderson was terminated, but Peak­-Jones said the SPCA's bylaws did not grant her that power.

Gravelle was supported by Dr. Michael Guedron and newly appointed board members Perk Evans, Chris Turner and Commissioner-­elect Dan Rawls. Peak­-Jones, treasurer Jack Burke and Commissioner Mark Hall opposed the firing.

"I have been there this many months trying to organize something that shouldn't have been opened in the first place," Anderson said. "If you don't give me the tools for running the SPCA correctly, how are you going to fire me for not running it correctly?"

Anderson was not permitted to say much of anything else, as Gravelle would not recognize her and she was removed to her seat by a court deputy.

Burke and Anderson both have complained of poor operational and fiscal planning for the no-­kill shelter, for which animal intake and adoption paperwork did not exist when it opened in March. No animal capacity has been established for the facility.

Gravelle tried and failed to fire Anderson at the board's July 28 meeting, citing concerns that the director had limited acceptance of animals due to overcrowding at the shelter.

An interim director will be named soon, Gravelle said.

Peak-­Jones abruptly resigned and left the meeting after Anderson's firing, citing a lack of adherence to the original operating plans and policy decisions previously made by the board.

She was especially critical of Gravelle's recently stated plan of relying on Cleveland For a No-­Kill City, her animal rescue network "army."

"If this board continues to go with your plan, with no written plan, it's ludicrous," Peak­-Jones said. "The state of Tennessee will investigate the board. The things you have already put in place need to be implemented."

Peak-­Jones makes the second resignation from the board this summer.

In mid-­July, board secretary Josh Serum resigned after admitting to remotely logging into the animal shelter computer system using Anderson's login information in an effort to review animal intake and adoption numbers.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at