During a Monday evening Bradley County Commission meeting, a young man told the commission that the SPCA had not been honest with them regarding an animal his family adopted that later tested positive for two contagious diseases.
After being told that their new kitten was healthy and had been in quarantine, the Payne family took "Kami" home. However, over the course of several days they noticed the kitten started coughing.
When Kami's symptoms began to deteriorate, the family said they took her to the vet.
After several visits, the kitten tested positive for both coccidia and panleukapenia. When symptoms became even worse, the vet told the family that the kitten was suffering and needed to be put to sleep.
The young man, reading a letter written by his father, Jacob Payne, to the commission, said, "We went to rescue a kitten for $25 and spent a total of $652 that we did not have to treat and euthanize a kitten and to break my daughter's heart."
The family said they immediately contacted the SPCA to warn them of the contagious diseases that were spreading.
However, they said Director Kristin Harvey told them, "We do all we can, what can you expect for $25?"
They said when they pressed the issue, Ms. Harvey became defensive and asked, "What do you want us to do?"
In the letter, Mr. Payne replied, "To not send sick kittens home with people who have to tell a four-year-old that it's dying a week later."
Upon hearing the Payne family's story, Commissioner Dan Rawls rebuked them, saying, "This is not the place to address that, you should have come to the SPCA Board," and that he wanted to hear the "whole story."
However, several other commissioners immediately disagreed. Commissioner Milan Blake said, "This is the proper forum...I have no problem with you speaking and addressing the commission."
Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber said, "If they have an issue it is our job to take care of it."
Commissioner Mark Hall said, "The only thing worse than being neglected by the SPCA is being neglected by your commission...you will never be denied the chance to speak here. I appreciate you. Turning a blind eye is not a way to fix a problem."
Commissioner Rawls replied, "I would like to hear both sides of any argument before we just go off on somebody."
He told the family, "I would still like to see you come before the SPCA board and we can have Ms. Harvey show up."
He also said, "When someone brings a cat in and drops it off, it's not possible to do a full physical examination of a cat...If the symptoms of the animal do not show up for seven to eight days but the animal is adopted at four days, there's no way to know that."
Commissioner Bill Winters said to the commission, "They had every right to come speak here...this young man showed a lot of courage. There needs to be respect for individuals who stand at the podium."
He said to the young man, "Next time you come in here, I hope you're treated a little better."