A group of protesters stood across the street from Dixie Day Spay Thursday alarmed at the recent spaying of a pregnant dog.
The group also put up signs lining a section of North Lee highway encouraging the establishment to follow true “no-kill” practices.
At Dixie, another group gathered to support the work of the organization and its hope to do more good. The prayer of St. Francis was read.
The dog in question had been sent to Dixie from the Cleveland Animal Shelter, which has a contract with the spay and neuter clinic, after a potential rescuer had come forward to claim it.
Judie Butterfield of A Paw and a Prayer dog rescue in Ooltewah had stepped up to take the dog which was pregnant with eight unborn puppies after getting a call from a friend.
“I do this as something that I am absolutely passionate about. What happened in this particular instance and what happens is I pull dogs from kill shelters and I try to help them to have a safe place,” Butterfield said.
She said the dog had been sent to Dixie simply for vaccinations before being released to her. She planned to keep the puppies until they were weaned and then find homes for them.
“I get a call from Dixie Day Spay at about 2 or 3 [p.m.] and a woman, very brief and to the point said, ‘We have your foster dog. She is out of surgery and doing well.’ And I said, ‘Why did my dog need surgery?’” Butterfield said.
She thought it was a mistake since the dog had been almost ready to deliver the puppies.
Later, she found out it was the same dog.
Someone at Dixie offered to take the dog in if Butterfield was no longer interested.
“I was just shocked and astounded that they could have killed eight puppies,” Butterfield said. “Someone could have said no.”
As word spread, a protest was planned.
Betti Gravelle, director of Dixie Day Spay and president of the SPCA of Bradley County board of directors, said adopted animals come to Dixie with an adoption contract from Cleveland Animal Shelter that says the animal will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and dewormed.
“No one contacted me. No one called me. No one ever mentioned an exception to this particular animal,” Gravelle said.
Gravelle said an animal has never been sent from animal control to the spay/neuter clinic simply for vaccines. She said the only exception for spay/neuter is for puppies that are 6 weeks old or younger, as decided best by the facility’s veterinary staff.
Spaying a pregnant dog is not unheard of in the veterinary community.
Gravelle said this decision is made by the veterinarian to be in the best interest of the animal. She said what happened to the dog in question was what was best for the mother dog.
“No one here (across the street) was in this building. No one here has asked to speak to the veterinarian. They have not asked to see medical records. They have not asked to speak to a technician,” Gravelle said.
She said she hopes in the future a time will come “... when you find a pregnant animal, it’s a celebration.
“I think the greater good will overcome. It always does … this has been a banner week. It has been amazing what it has sparked as far as support and donations coming in,” Gravelle said.
“I don’t believe that Dixie Day Spay is all bad,” Butterfield pointed out. “I think there are wonderful things that they have done.”
Gravelle said time would be better spent by groups such as those across the street working to find homes for “dogs on death row” than protesting at Dixie.
“Please put this time and this energy to animals that are dying,” Gravelle said.