The Cleveland City Council is requesting documentation from nonprofit Dixie Day Spay outlining where animals have gone in the past several months after they are taken from the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
The request comes following an appeal to the City Council by concerned citizen Rachel Veazey.
“There were 35 animals (over two months) that were sent to the Puppy Patch, which was raided … Dixie Day Spay pulled these animals from our animal control under their [nonprofit] 501(c)(3). I would like to know what we are going to do to possibly tighten up on the rescues,” Veazey said.
The number of animals found in the Puppy Patch investigation has been disputed. Beth Foster of the SPCA of Bradley County said at a recent Commission meeting that four pets from Cleveland were found at the Morristown facility. The owners of Puppy Patch are being charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty.
In the past year, according to Veazey, Dixie Day Spay and Dixie Pet Underground have “pulled 1,222 from animal control.” This is out of an approximate 1,247 rescued last year.
The organization’s status as a city-approved animal rescue operation allows it to have the animals without paying.
“We don’t know where any of these animals are. We don’t know if they are spayed or neutered. We don’t know anything about their rabies shots. We don’t know,” Veazey said.
She said Cleveland Animal Control needs to puts policies in place to ensure the animals are truly being cared for.
Animal Control director Gene Smith said city-approved rescue organizations sign a release form taking responsibility for the animal and indicating they will have the animal spayed or neutered.
Smith said he used to know all of the rescuers.
“When we started striving toward no kill, that’s when everything sort of changed in different directions,” Smith said, commenting that now there are so many that he does not know all of them.
Smith said if the Council revoked approval of Dixie Day Spay as a rescue group, the number of animals that would have to be put down would go up.
Veazey was the citizen member of a committee that studied the future of animal control in Bradley County and Cleveland before SPCA of Bradley County was awarded the contract for animal control outside the city limits.
Betti Gravelle, Dixie Day Spay’s director and president of the SPCA of Bradley County’s board of directors, said in a statement on the organization’s Facebok page, “Not only were these animals betrayed, but so were many good individuals, organizations and other veterinary clinics who put their faith in Puppy Patch's promise to give these animals a better life,” she said.
Deadline for receiving the documentation is the March 10 Council meeting, with the possibility of an extension being granted.
- The Council passed a resolution to offer Michael Woods $16,000 “in order to obtain an easement across the Woods’ property in connection with the Bowman Avenue drainage project.”
Public works director Tommy Myers said Woods had initially requested a privacy bench, a bench on the Cleveland/ Bradley County Greenway, backflow on his sewer system and $12,000.
Myers said they gave two options to Woods: either the fence, bench and $6,000 or a second option of $12,000 and none of the projects.
“This weekend I got an email and he has come back … and now he is wanting $16,000 and no fence and no bench,” Myers said.
Woods had also requested a catch basin be removed from his property. Myers said the catch basin was being redesigned but is crucial to the success of the project.
The easement is the last piece needed for a project that would elevate flooding issues on Bowman Avenue. Affected residents have been before the Council a few times in the past requesting help with this issue.
- The city also heard a presentation on municipal coverage offered by LifeForce as part of the AirMedCare network. If approved, the city would pay, and every city resident also covered by regular health insurance could be flown for free from an incident within the city limits. Jimmy Morse of LifeForce said an upgrade of $35 can be paid by the citizen to get coverage for medical flights needed in any of the 28 states where AirMedCare operates. The cost of the municipal plan is based on the number of households and how many flights have been made recently in the area.
Morse said last year there were 73 LifeForce flights out of Cleveland and it has more than 16,000 households. Morse said
An educated guess was that having the service cover the city could cost more than $200,000. A vote was not made on the issue Monday.
- Rezoning requests were also approved during Monday’s meeting. Property at 1996 Westland Drive was rezoned from MU Mixed Use to IL Light Industry District to R3 Multi-Family Residential District; 12 acres on Blackburn Road was rezoned from Light Industry District to R3 Multi-Family Residential District, and 0.7 acres located on 25th Street NW was rezoned from Rl Single family Residential District to PI Professional Institutional District.