The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

The People News
Special Report






A second chance for Larry

Puppies and kittens needing a second chance for life.

by Alexandra Edwards

Most people love animals, which is why many choose to share their life and home with a pet cat or dog and most pets are loved and cherished till the day they die. Unfortunately, not all cats and dogs are so lucky. Hundreds of puppies and kittens are abandoned each day and many adult dogs and cats find themselves suddenly without food or shelter for various reasons. Some wander away from a loving

home and get lost. Others are abandoned by their owners simply because they became an inconvenience or had outgrown their welcome. There are also times where some very emotional decisions have to made when a loving owner can no longer care for their pet. The result... through no fault of their own, the lives of these loyal, friendly furry friends come to an abrupt end in a cage at an animal shelter. And the sad fact is that animal shelters are obligated to process more stray and unwanted animals than they have the resources to find new homes for.

Here in Cleveland and Bradley County, just as in many other communities, a group of people sharing the same desire to help, treat and care for wayward and injured domestic animals, formed a  non-profit organization to help give these pets a second chance for life.

Alexandra Edwards

Jennifer Tanksley, a regular volunteer with Ark Saturday morning adoptions showing a kitten from the Cleveland Animal Shelter.

Bob Caylor, President of The Ark of Cleveland, with one of his feline friends.

Every Saturday morning outside PetCo, the pet supply store on Paul Huff Parkway, between the hours of 10 and 2, you can witness the love and kindness shared by a devoted group of "animal lovers." This generous group of people, who volunteer time and expense to the fostering and adoption of pets, are members of The Ark of Cleveland. Their vision... to have "a world where each dog and puppy, cat and

kitten is wanted and loved and cared for by loving hands and kind voices in a lifetime home." Working closely with the Cleveland Police Department's Animal Control center, members meet each weekend with the hope of adopting out all or at least most, of the lovable pets that need a home. Although different volunteers from Ark show up to help with pet adoptions each week, there is a hard core that are there on a regular basis, rain or shine. 

Bob Caylor, President of  The Ark of Cleveland has a special place in his heart for cats. Each Saturday, he sets up a tent and table and places his most adorable cats and kittens on display in the hope of adoption. Although he has 8 cats and 4 dogs of his own, he usually fosters an extra 25 cats. "All go to the vet, have vet records and are neutered or spayed," he Said. Bob has been an Ark member for five years and out of the three years they have been setting up outside PetCo, he has missed only two Saturdays.  PetCo pet supply store, are one of the partners of Ark and intentionally do not sell cats or dogs in the hope it will encourage people to adopt those from  animal shelters and rescue groups. Not only do they allow space each Saturday for the adoption gatherings, they, along with other local corporate sponsors such as MasterFoods and Walmart, help raise money for the Ark and its many projects. 

Jennifer Tanksley, who has been an Ark member for one year said "We usually do pretty well with adoptions depending on the weather,

PetCo employees, left - Richard Bates, David Simmons, Elaine Norwood and Patti Walker partners of Ark. Without corporation sponsors like PetCo, It would be difficult to adopt out so many homeless pets.

last weekend was a great day and we adopted out 20 pets." Jennifer who prefers fostering large breed dogs, 60 pounds and over, likes to concentrate her attention on a one on one basis but has had as many as three dogs in her home at one time. As an Ark member, she is responsible for organizing all necessary vaccinations and veterinary care, including  spaying and neutering. She is also responsible for getting to know the animal, and teaching it social skills so that when ready for adoption, the pet will go to the right home. For example, she said,  "some dogs like to be alone and may not get along with another pet or with children, so we need to get to know their character, which can take from a couple of weeks to several months." Each Saturday, Jennifer goes to the Cleveland Animal Shelter, where she found her own pet and chooses a few puppies to offer for adoption. She said that going there is really hard as she would just love to bring them all.

Shelly McConnell and her husband Hap, used to spend every Saturday together helping with pet adoptions until Hap, a Captain with the 850th Transportation was transferred to Iraq on December 8th. Though away from home defending our country,  he is still committed to taking care of animals. "Although officially discouraged,  he is presently feeding 3 kittens in Iraq," said

Jason & Meghan Hyatt, regular volunteers with Ark, with one of the puppies available for adoption outside PetCo.

Kathy Erwin being reunited with Hunter, her first puppy adoption.

Shelly who is so excited that her husband will be coming home on leave this month. Both are board members of Ark and have five cats and a lab mix at home. Shelly said that although kittens are usually hard to place in the summer, last week they took back to the shelter only one kitten and one dog.

When Kathy Irwin is not giving up her Saturday morning to pet adoption she spends the rest of her time foster caring 18  cats and 8 dogs as well as taking care of her own two cats and two dogs. She is education chair for Ark and spends

many hours  visiting local schools explaining about the responsibilities of foster care and teaching children

A second chance for Larry is an apt description for the future of Larry, who was adopted at the age of 8 weeks on August 7th outside PetCo. Larry was one of the animals from the Cleveland Animal Shelter.

Eric Durchholz, Ark volunteer, with a Labrador mix puppy waiting to be adopted outside PetCo on Saturday morning.

the right way to care for their pets. A phrase she likes to use quite often when people are searching for the right pet is "it's the sighs you need to look for when adopting a pet," and if you stand outside PetCo and watch as prospective owners handle the animals, you will see exactly what she means.

Last month, Kathy had the pleasure of meeting again the very first puppy she adopted exactly 3 years ago. He was one of a litter of 8 abandoned in a dumpster in Ooltewah. They were all in a really bad way she recalls and it took a lot of loving care and attention to nurse them back to health. Though all eventually found homes, the first one, whom she had named Hunter, because he kept his nose to the ground, was always special to her. The owners had kept Kathy posted as to the well-being of Hunter and had seen photos at different stages of his development but that was nothing compared to meeting him again. There he was, obviously well cared for, healthy and loved, which is the aim of the volunteers and what their organization is all about. It was a memorable experience for her.

Matt Taylor and Eric Durhholz, had recently relocated to Cleveland from Nashville and it was their first day volunteering with Ark.  "We wanted to offer ourselves to our new community, and as Eric had just lost his own dog in a tragic incident, we felt being around cats and dogs would help the healing process." said Matt.

Husband and wife team Matt and Meghan Hyatt, members for one year, were on hand helping several puppies find adoptive families. Matt is also responsible for the video and computer work for the group.

Deanna Phillips another member who usually attends most pet adoptions was not present on the weekend of my visit.

Bob Caylor was pleased to announce that The Ark is to receive an annual income of $1,680,  from the Jimmy Webb Memorial Fund, a fund maintained over the last ten years for PALS, another organization of similar purpose that is no longer in operation. 
In conjunction with National Pet Adoption days on August 28 and 29, PetCo stores launched a nationwide "Think Adoption First"  initiative that in partnership with will encourage customers to seek adoptable animals in the community as a first option when looking for a pet."Think Adoption First" books, available from the local PetCo foyer contain

information about Ark and printouts of the pets they have to offer. To contact Ark call Bob Caylor 559-0890 or e-mail or visit their new website

It has been written many times that the number of potentially wonderful pets and lifetime companions being euthanased on a daily basis is a travesty not only to the animals themselves but to people denied the opportunity to experience the joy of caring for man's best friend or his feline counterpart. If you can find a permanent place in your heart for one of these adorable loyal creatures, please consider adoption to save an animal's life. Call The Ark of Cleveland, visit Cleveland's animal shelter or stop by PetCo on Saturday morning.