Attendees representing both organizations packed out the Bradley County mayor’s conference room as both sides vied for the ad hoc committee’s choice.
It was an opportunity for Bradley County commissioners to ask questions of each organization so they could move toward making a decision. The Ark of Cleveland and the SPCA of Bradley County both fielded several questions from them.
A concern that came up early in the meeting was whether or not the organizations’ proposed budgets included the cost of having security fences.
Betti Gravelle, president of the local SPCA, said it was a good idea to have a fence around the animal shelter property, but her organization did not include that in their proposed budget figures.
However, she said they could use existing fencing and apply for grants to cover the costs of additional work
Bob Caylor, president and CEO of The Ark, also agreed it was a good idea to have a good fence there because it keeps people from simply dropping off animals after hours.
“It does act as a deterrent and encourage people to come during business hours,” Caylor said.
He said that The Ark could also use existing fencing and apply for grants if the need arises.
However, the idea of relying on grant money gave some of the committee members pause.
“One thing that makes me nervous is grants,” Commission Chairman Louie Alford said. “None of them are guaranteed.”
Both organizations assured Alford they are confident in their abilities to get grants to pay for extra expenses.
Gravelle said she had a lot of experience in applying for grants and that “when you need money for animals, you can get it.”
Caylor said the same was true for The Ark and that it has actually received grants for its already-existing shelter in Cleveland.
The meeting continued to go in much the same way. A commissioner would ask a question, and representatives from both organizations would respond, often giving similar answers.
Both “no kill” organizations gave commissioners assurances that they would always try to find homes for animals instead of just housing them at the shelter for long periods of time.
Both said they would also work harder to educate the public about issues like spaying and neutering pets.
Commissioner Bill Winters thanked those who attended the meeting for sharing their views with the committee. He explained where the County Commission was with the process to choose how county residents would be able to receive animal control services for the long term.
“We want to get this right,” Winters said, adding that attendees had given them a few more factors to consider.
Back in September, the Commission made a temporary deal with the Cleveland City Council to allow county residents outside the city limits to still receive animal control services through the city. That six-month deal ends at the beginning of March.
Winters said the goal is to try to have a solution ready to go in March and to have the matter of who will be handing animal control resolved soon, preferably by early December.