Cleveland City Council members on Monday voted to set up a five-member panel to try to work out a solution to the animal control issue involving the county.
The committee will include Cleveland animal rescuer Rachel Veazey, Cleveland Council members George Poe and Dale Hughes and two members from the Bradley County Commission. Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford put Commissioners Bill Winters and Charlotte Peak-Jones on the panel.
Chairman Alford said he wants to see the committee ''beginning working ASAP."
The city motion came after earlier in the meeting the City Council agreed to accept animals from Ducktown, Tn.
Under the current situation, there is no arrangement for stray animals out in the county to be brought to the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
Bradley County Commission members did not want to continue to pay for a vehicle to transport stray animals, but agreed to provide $167,000 to the city if it would take animals brought to the facility. But that was rejected in a 4-3 vote.
Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson said he had begun to see "a lot of stray animals" within the city limits that apparently were coming from the county.
Mayor Tom Rowland said he hopes an agreement can be reached with the county to solve the problem.
County Commission members said they got a letter from the director of the East Ridge Animal Shelter with ideas on how to set up an animal shelter in a cost-effective way. Commissioner Ed Elkins said he liked some of the ideas, but Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber said, "I am hesitant to take advice from East Ridge. I'm not seeing that city as doing so well."
He said he favors consolidation of services and said the county setting up a separate animal shelter "would be going backwards." He said, "The next thing we'll have a civil war and secede from the city."
Vice Chairman Yarber said, "We've got some commissioners who are very anti-city. That's what has gotten us into the mess we're in."
County Commissioner Mark Hall said the animal control issue "got caught in the cross fire of a 30-year skirmish between the city and county."
A woman at the county meeting said there is a danger that stray dogs will begun running in wild packs and prove a danger to other animals and humans.