Bloomfield residents, Jeff Coltenback and his wife Diana, will appear before the Board of Health tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Center to convince township officials to allow them to adopt Memphis, a stray pit bull.
The couple, who owns the Paradise Pet store and operates the Pitty Rescue animal rescue organization, first learned about the dog in March after it was taken off the streets as a stray and brought to the Bloomfield Animal Shelter.
Soon after, Jeff Coltenback, an animal behaviorist, contacted the Board of Health and offered his professional services to train the dog, which was deemed unadoptable by an evaluator at the shelter. In doing so, Coltenback says he personally incurred both the expenses and legal liability associated with the dog.
During the dog's eight-day stint with the family, Coltenback performed socialization training by having Memphis interact with other adults and children, all of which he argues was done with permission.
Upon learning about this, the township, citing concerns about endangering the public, ordered that Memphis be removed from the household and returned to the shelter where he currently resides.
"He has been around people, dogs, cats, rats and even parrots without incident," contends Coltenback who argues that the breed is misunderstood.
Since the dog's removal from the home, Coltenback says he has submitted a dozen letters of recommendation from both professionals and rescue groups in favor of the family's permanent adoption of the dog.
"During his entire eight days with us, Memphis never exhibited any behaviors that provided an opportunity for me to correct or modify his behavior," Coltenback wrote in a statement. "He has been around people, dogs, cats, rats and even parrots without incident".
An online petition was also started on the couple's behalf and has garned a great deal of support. To date, over ten thousand people worldwide have digitally signed their names in favor of allowing the Coltenback’s to adopt Memphis.
The Board of Health meeting takes place tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.