Adopted dog killed before pickup, Cleveland shelter on blast
CLEVELAND, TN. (WRCB) - The Cleveland Animal Shelter is on blast this week as hundreds of community members push for changes in the way it operates.
The grassroots group Cleveland For A No Kill City just organized last month and already has several hundred people on board. They're pushing for change in the shelter's euthanization and adoption policies. One teen just joined the group Tuesday after a troubling experience at the shelter.
Delilah is a Labrador Retriever. Austin Rhoades met her Friday at the Cleveland Animal Shelter and knew what he had to do.
"We decided we had to have her and we paid for her and they said come back Monday because it was too late in the day Friday to take her to the vet to get her vaccinations," Austin Rhoades said.
But, when he got there Monday morning, there was no Delilah.
"They brought out a dog that was not ours and we told them that," Rhoades said.
Delilah's pin was empty.
"We asked them had they put our dog down and they said yes," Rhoades said.
Animal Control Director Gene Smith declined an on camera interview but admitted this happened and said it was "an honest mistake." He said she was mistaken for a similar dog. He said that disciplinary action was being taken on the kennel worker responsible.
"The first thing they said is they can give me my money back and that doesn't bring my dog back," Rhoades said.
Animal rescuer Beth Foster helped organize the group Cleveland For A No Kill City in May, facilitating adoptions through social media. But the mission started to expand.
"There have been several occasions where we have said we are coming to get that animal in the morning. We went and it was dead," animal rescuer, Beth Foster said.
Now the group is pushing for policy change when it comes to the amount of time each animal can be open for adoption before being put down.
Right now, it's three days for strays.
"We need to change this culture of our local animal control to one about saving lives and facilitating adoption, instead of kill and dispose, which is where we are now," Foster said.
Director Gene Smith says the shelter complies with all state guidelines. He told the group policy changes have to go through the police department.
They submitted a proposal Tuesday.
Also adding fuel to the fire for upset animal activists, is that Monday night, city council announced it no longer has money in a special fund that has been supplementing adoptions, which used to knock the cost down from $90 or $100 to $50.
A special shelter advisory board meeting is being held Friday to discuss possible solutions for the fees.