published Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Bradley County commissioners vote Monday on nonprofit animal shelter

  • photo
    Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins
    Photo by Gillian Bolsover

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Commission will vote Monday whether enter into a two-year agreement with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County to provide for its animal control needs.

In a recent meeting, the county's animal control ad hoc committee voted 4-0 to recommend the SPCA of Bradley County as a private-sector solution for picking up and sheltering county animals.

"I think this is a pilot [project] in the true sense of the term," said J. Adam Lowe, vice chairman of the commission.

The committee has been reviewing proposals submitted by The Ark of Cleveland and the SPCA of Bradley County since September. The Ark requested $240,000 in annual support from the county; the SPCA requested $80,000 in annual support.

"I've looked over all the numbers and got all the external comments and everything, and I see no reason to not go with the lowest-cost proposal, which would be SPCA," said Commissioner Ed Elkins, who serves on the ad hoc panel.

Both proposals called for operating a county shelter -- which would be separate from the Cleveland Animal Shelter -- with organization personnel and volunteers.

For animal pickup, The Ark proposed to contract with city animal control officers for an estimated $220,000 per year. The SPCA of Bradley County proposed to use its own van and staff.

The Ark is a faith-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that operates a facility that shelters up to up to 30 animals at a time. The SPCA of Bradley County has applied for 501(c)(3) status, according to statements by Betti Gravelle, president of the organization, in November.

Until that comes through, the organization will be operating with Dixie Spay Neuter Express Inc. as its fiscal sponsor, according to a recent Facebook post by SPCA spokeswoman Beth Foster.

Several members of the SPCA are associated with Cleveland For a No-Kill City, which has worked to decrease euthanasia rates at the Cleveland Animal Shelter.

A complaint has been lodged about whether adequate public notice was given for the Dec. 9 meeting in which the recommendation was made, said Elisha Hodge, of the state's Office of Open Records Counsel.

The notice was placed on the Bradley County Commission online calendar on the county government website the week before the meeting, and an email notification was sent to local media Dec. 5.

A letter will be issued to the ad hoc committee that will address whether there there might have been a violation of the open meetings law, Hodge said. The letter will not say a violation definitely occurred, she said.

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

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