Animal control group eyes options
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Staff Writer
Sep 06, 2013 | 930 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An emergency solution may be in the works for animal control outside the city limits as representatives from an ad hoc committee will take a recommendation to their respective governments.

The short-term solution to be presented would be for Bradley County to have full-service animal control for three months at $75,000, or for six months at $120,000.

Full-service options were pursued after it was determined defining an “emergency situation” without someone responding to the call could prove problematic.

The ad hoc committee was formed to address the issues of stray dogs and emergency domestic animal situations after the expiration of the contract between the city of Cleveland and Bradley County.

Councilmen George Poe and Dale Hughes, Commissioners Bill Winters and Charlotte Peak-Jones along with community member Rachael Veazey make up the committee which met Thursday.

Throughout the meeting, Peak-Jones stressed the committee was looking for a short-term solution for dangerous or vicious dogs and cats until long-term arrangements can be determined by the Bradley County Commission. Chairman Louie Alford said the Commission was open to proposals from animal rescue groups. A long-term solution has not been officially discussed by the Commission, although ideas have been circulating.

Winters said he hoped the ad hoc committee would meet again to discuss long-term solutions.

"We have come to assist and our goal is to assist the county at this time with animals in the county that need attention," Hughes said.

Winters said the contract had not been renewed because there was not enough funding.

"We came up with what we thought was affordable for us and also doable for us. It was $167,00 that we would send to the city for the animal shelter," Winters said.

This option supported by the Commission eliminated the pickup of animals in the county. Funding to cover this option was included in the 2013-14 Bradley County budget.

“We just chose an option of what we thought was best for the county at that time,” Peak-Jones said.

City Manager Janice Casteel said the list of options considered by the Commission was developed by the Bradley County mayor. She simply gave the prices for each option.

Peak-Jones had suggested thinking in monthly terms for an immediate solution.

“You have $167,000. I don’t think you have to think in terms of months. I think the minimum would have to be six months, based on what chairman Alford just told me — that you have no ... immediate plan for your own shelter,” Hughes said.

Poe said he would be concerned about the employees’ job instability if the contract was simply for a month at a time.

The city did not agree to a contract under the terms the county proposed. Poe said he voted against the motion because residents probably will not bring dangerous animals to the shelter or be able to catch them.

“I just don’t think people are going to bring in the real problem dogs or cats to the shelter,” Poe said.

The number of stray animals in the county is concerning, Veazey said. It has been estimated that there were 250 calls outside the city per day by animal control before the contract expired. With the expiration of the contract, two animal control employees have been moved to the public works department.

Safety concerns are also being raised by the lack of an animal control contract with Poe noting a recent incident.

Poe said he heard on the police scanner, “[A] sheriff’s deputy got on the scene … he said I need animal control out here. They said that’s not available … this small child had been bitten by this stray dog.”

Poe said the deputy started to ask what he could do, then stopped.

Poe said the 911 call center continues to get calls about domestic animal issues in the county

The child in the recent incident was a Waterville Elementary School kindergarten student. The student’s mom, Lacy Green, said in a phone interview that her daughter was bitten while at school. A full interview with Green will be published in Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Major John Collins of Law Enforcement Operations with Bradley County Sheriff’s Office said in a phone interview the department reached out to the Bradley Veterinarian Clinic to quarantine the dog.

Since the expiration of the contract, officers have had to reach out to local resources to quarantine or rescue these animal that posed a threat.

Each government is expected to vote on the recommendation at its next voting session.