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

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Effective Jan. 1, the shelter operated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County no longer will adhere to its original "no-kill" mission.

Numerous challenges to the nonprofit organization's sustainability are behind the decision, SPCA board members said.

In a recent meeting, board members voted 3-1 to limit the number of animals the shelter can care for at a given time and to consider euthanasia to control the shelter population, if necessary.

The shelter, which held 105 animals at the end of September and 145 at the end of October, will care for no more than 40 dogs and 30 cats at a time beginning in January.

Board members Ed Elkins, Chris Turner and Dan Rawls voted for the change. Dr. Michael Guedron opposed it. Board members Mark Hall and Betti Gravelle, the director of Dixie Day Spay, were absent.

The measure's sponsor, Turner, the board treasurer/secretary, said putting the measure forward was difficult and heartbreaking, but the shelter has a shortage of funds and volunteers.

"There is a capacity of that building," said "There's also a capacity of the revenue for us to care for and provide food and waste services for the animals that are there."

He said the SPCA attempting to continue an open-intake policy, as required by the organization's $80,000 annual agreement with Bradley County, is a significant challenge.

The organization is working to reduce its animal population without resorting to euthanasia.

As part of the measure limiting the shelter's population, the board agreed to match donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $3,000, to pay for transporting animals to shelters and rescue operations through Dec. 31.

Westwood Farms Foundation, a major donor to Dixie Day Spay, has said it will help pay for animal transportation.

The board also voted 4-0 to ratify Turner's Nov. 1 decision to limit animal intake from Bradley County residents living outside Cleveland's city limits.

Turner acted after Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg issued an opinion stating that the SPCA agreement "does not contemplate or require" that shelter services be provided to the city of Cleveland.

The SPCA's shelter proposal originally was presented to the Bradley County Commission in 2013 by Gravelle and Beth Foster, an organizer for Cleveland For a No-Kill City, an animal rescue network.

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

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