The committee chose the SPCA of Bradley County to help lead the county’s animal control efforts during its Monday meeting.
The county had been involved in two different discussions related to animal control. The first involved its own committee choosing between two different nonprofit organizations to manage the efforts. The second involved working with the city of Cleveland on a joint ad hoc committee that had also been searching for a nonprofit with which the governments could work.
County Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said the city had requested that the county continue its current contract until June 30, which would cost the county $20,000 per month.
Commissioner Ed Elkins said that would have been an option if the county had “gotten into a bind,” but a nonprofit taking the reins of animal control in the county sooner rather than later would save the county money.
“If these folks think they can make this happen, that would save us $60,000 or a little more,” Elkins said. “I see no reason to not go with the lowest-cost proposal — the SPCA.”
Commissioner Adam Lowe said another commissioner who was unable to attend the committee meeting had contacted him to share his view that there might still be “ground to be gained with the city.”
However, Lowe said he personally was confused about some discrepancies in the budgets proposed by the city and local nonprofit The Ark in the joint committee meeting.
“I’m not sure there’s a real path to cooperation on a city contract going forward,” Lowe said.
Amid the discussions, some members of the committee expressed their urgency for moving the process along. The six-month agreement that allows Bradley County residents to use city animal control services ends in March, and residents would be left with no animal control services if the county does not come up with a solution.
Still, there was concern about giving the nonprofits enough time to prepare for the volume of animals they might suddenly see while under contract with the county.
“Time is of the essence,” Commissioner Mark Hall said. “I think we’d be doing them a disservice if we did not act on this in the next few weeks.”
Commissioner Louie Alford said he still had concerns about animal pickup. Peak-Jones said using county animal control officers to help with that is contingent upon a deal with the city.
Betti Gravelle, president of the local SPCA, said the organization had plans to hire and train animal control personnel, eventually gaining two or three part-time people or one full-time person. Additionally, some volunteers could be trained.
The committee voted for the SPCA of Bradley County over The Ark of Cleveland and recommended a two-year contract for the organization to run a county animal shelter and offer animal pickup within the county.
With its pick in place, the county ad hoc committee will be sending its animal control choice to the Bradley County Commission for a possible vote next week.
The nonprofit would have through the end of March to prepare to take over the county’s animal control.
After the meeting, Gravelle said the possibility of being chosen to handle the responsibility means all the necessary planning and preparing will soon begin.
“It’s time to dig our heels in and get busy,” she said.