Members of the Humane Society of the United States and the SPCA of Bradley County completed the move Sunday of 101 dogs to the shelter that has been set up in Charleston at the Charleston Mini Storage.
The emergency rescue shelter is being coordinated by the Humane Society and the group Red Rover, a nonprofit organization which shelters animals temporarily during natural disasters and other crises.
Beth Foster, SPCA communications director, said the dogs will receive veterinary assessment and care for the next few days.
“After that is completed, we will be announcing when the dogs will be released for adoption,” Foster said. “Some will likely go to Humane Society rescue partners and some will be available through the SPCA.”
She also reported that Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford had paid a visit to the shelter Saturday night and 4th District Commissioner and SPCA Board member Charlotte Peak-Jones was also present and helping assist with the move.
The emergency shelter will be closed to the public as all of the necessary veterinary checkups and treatments are being completed.
“The dogs will then be [transfered] to organizations that have been pre-approved by the Humane Society of the United States who will then make them available for adoption,” said Leighann Lassiter, state director of the Humane Society.
“It is going to be at least a week before these dogs will be available for adoption through our approved rescue partners. When dogs are rescued from these kinds of conditions, they require special medical attention, including vaccinations, testing for heartworms and other disease, spay and neuter,” said Tia Pope, manager of puppy mills response for The Humane Society of the United States. “We’re thrilled that we could assist the Bradley County community with this rescue.”
The animal crisis began last Wednesday when 240 dogs were found at the Candies Creek Road residence of Rebecca Van Meter.
Van Meter has since been charged with one count of cruelty to animals.
“Commissioner and fellow SPCA board member [Mark] Hall and myself could not be prouder of how the SPCA staff and volunteers have handled this tragic situation,” Peak-Jones said. “It speaks volumes about their compassion and commitment to what they do.”
Peak-Jones also offered thanks to the Humane Society for the assistance it is now giving to help find the dogs the veterinary care they need — as well as new and loving homes.
“I also think it says a lot that so many in our local area stepped up within hours to help rescue more than half of the dogs that were in those unspeakable conditions,” Peak-Jones said.
Bobbi Anderson, SPCA county animal shelter director, said working with the Humane Society has “been a learning experience.”
“Although tragic, I believe this has been a valuable learning experience for both the SPCA and local law enforcement. We have learned a great deal about how to handle this type of situation this large through their example and education,” Anderson said. “The Humane Society has been amazing in their efforts.”
Foster said those interested in adopting any of the dogs at this point can email their interest at spcaofbradleycounty.org.
“We do want the public to understand while it is a wonderful thing to want to adopt these dogs, they need to be aware of the special situations these dogs have been in,” Foster said.
“Puppy mill dogs have been kept in difficult conditions and have not been housebroken and, although they will have received all the necessary veterinarian care required, there could be some genetic problems that appear later,” she said.
“In adopting these dogs, the adopter needs to be sure they are prepared in both an emotional and financial way to deal with possible behaviorial and medical situations that may develop later.”
Foster said the SPCA is preparing special instructions for adopters with the special needs information for the dogs.
There continues to be a need for supplies in caring for the dogs and those can be made to the SPCA by mail at 1570 Johnson Blvd., Cleveland TN 37311 or by PayPal on the organization’s website — spcaofbradleycounty.org.