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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Ark of Cleveland, Bradley County's no-kill Humane Educational Society, is moving soon because it needs more space.

The Ark, now at 2163 North Ocoee St., accepts and adopts out family pets, said Gina Stephens, a board member and volunteer.

At its present location, the Ark can only accept dogs 25 pounds and under. It doesn't have space for larger dogs, Ms. Stephens said.

But in its new home on Oak Street, that won't be a problem, she said. There's no set timetable for the move, although the Ark has closed on the house, which once was a weekly newspaper office.

When the Ark moves to Oak Street, volunteers plan to build a fence so pets can spend more time outside. They hope some generous merchant will give them a price break on the fencing, if not a donation.

Regardless of the current location's tight quarters, Ms. Stephens said Cleveland has embraced the 3-year-old shelter.

The animals seem to like it, too. The cats have their own comfy room in the back. Visitors coming through the front door get a tail-wagging welcome from dogs watching from their cages.

"It's a grassroots effort," Ms. Stephens said.

The group began by showing animals at the local PetCo on Saturdays. Volunteers would bring adoptable animals over from the Cleveland Animal Shelter or from volunteer foster homes.

Organizer Bob Caylor would bring the cats, bringing them from the home he had made for them in his family garage.

But the volunteers wanted more than those limited hours to show animals to the public. From that beginning, the Ark moved to North Ocoee Street, diagonally across from Ocoee Middle School.

"We get a lot of calls from people who have just found out we are a no-kill organization," said volunteer Chloe Freake.

The adoptable pets all have been examined by a veterinarian and have the necessary vaccines. If they are too young for spaying or neutering, the adopting owners can bring them to the participating vet later at no extra cost.

"You are not buying a pet here," Ms. Stephens said. "You are committing yourself to a family member."

The Ark volunteers do a lot of public advocacy for spay and neuter programs. They realize the tough job faced by workers at the city shelter, Ms. Stephens said.

"Those people have a terrible job to do," she said. "But it's a situation society creates."

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