Animal Shelter Advisory Board member Beth Foster said the animals were killed while shelter director Gene Smith is on vacation.
“Our understanding is that Gene will be on vacation for two weeks,” Foster wrote in an email. “If this is how the entire two weeks is going to be, the people who support Cleveland for a “No Kill City” (nearing 5,000 on Facebook) will be justifiably angry. An expectation had been established and the officers have shattered that today.”
The Cleveland City Council has supported a move toward no-kill status, though it has not passed an ordinance directing staff in that direction.
“We were so close to achieving no-kill status,” she stated. “We have been running at 90 percent save rate for several weeks now. East Ridge is also working on becoming no kill and expects to be certified next year. Cleveland can still be first in Tennessee, but not if there is no buy-in from those who work there and all of the trust that is established is gone and the killing resumes as soon as the boss walks out the door.”
Foster complimented Smith for his work.
“We would never have had the success we have if it hadn't been for Gene Smith's cooperation,” Foster said.
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel promptly responded to the complaints of euthanizing the animals. Cleveland Police Capt. Dennis Maddux is in charge of the investigation.
“We really appreciate the support City Council and city government have given us,” Foster said. “We see becoming the first ‘No Kill City’ in Tennessee as a reality of Cleveland.”