Councilman Supports Adoption of Pitbull

After another township council meeting devoted to Memphis the pitbull, Bloomfield Councilman Bernard Hamilton said the issue needs to be resolved.


Following another forceful public comment session at last night’s township council meeting, Councilman Bernard Hamilton said the adoption of Memphis the pit bull had to be resolved for the good of the township.

“From my perspective, when there’s activity without results or resolution, chaos continues.  We need to cut the chaos.  We need to make a decision.”

He said the two most important issues are the image of the township and the protection of the shelter, both of which were being compromised by the months-long standoff between animal advocates and the township.

“The public is asking us to make a decision so these two individuals can care for the dog," he said, referring to local dog trainers Jeff and Diana Coltenback, whose application to adopt the dog was rejected by the Board of Health in August.  "They are willing to take this risk.  I don’t understand why this can’t be resolved.  Why not make this simple and let the man adopt the dog?”

Councilman Nick Joanow quickly followed Hamilton’s example, saying, “I’m confident Jeff has the credentials to rehabilitate the dog.”

Mayor Raymond McCarthy said he hoped to resolve the matter soon with the aid of the township attorney. 

“I have no problem making sure Memphis is in a place where he’s being taken care of,” he said.  “The town attorney will have to be consulted, though.” 

McCarthy said the next step would be “a conversation with the Board of Health.”

“I don’t have the power to take the keys and let Memphis free because there’s a lawsuit going on,” he said, adding that he expected the issue to come up again at Thursday’s public meeting with the Board of Health.

After the officials spoke, the large crowd in council chambers stood up and applauded, many looking relieved. Afterward, some members of the audience, including Diana Coltenback, stood in line to shake Hamilton's hand and give him a hug. 

“We have an obligation to protect the town,” Hamilton told Patch at the conclusion of the meeting.  “We have an image to uphold.  We don’t want to discourage people from coming to Bloomfield.  I commend the public for carrying out their democratic rights by speaking here and signing their petition.  But the bottom line is, it shouldn’t have gotten to this point.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Coltenback, standing outside the municipal building with his wife Diana and several supporters from the “Save Memphis” campaign.

"Councilman Hamilton showed great courage, stepping forward and speaking openly about the situation.  Let's hope that the Board of Health will see that there's absolutely no risk or liabilty to the township for Memphis coming to us.  We can safely harbor him, like we've done with all pitbulls for many years.  And hopefully we can all put this behind us and move forward.

"I hope they’ll let us adopt Memphis.  We’ll see what happens on Thursday.”

Added Diana, "Memphis could be the catalyst for a lot of good change happening in the future in Bloomfield."

Karen Banda September 29, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Nope. Sorry. I first entered that shelter in the mid 90's. I don't want to go into what it looked like then and who was in charge, including the shelter vet. It was, in a word, a hellhole. So many years later, is it better? Physically? Yes. Better vet care than back then? Yep. Longer terms for the animals? Yes. Thank God and the volunteers who brought all of the problems to light and fought so hard for the changes.
Karen Banda September 29, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Know what hasn't changed? The mindset of those in charge. The level of expertise of those who run the shelter daily. The overall philosophy that they're not "just animals". The situation with Memphis is case in point. What I'm saying here is: Unless whoever is in charge of the shelter really cares. Unless it's someone who truly gives a damn and appreciates ALL volunteers and the time they choose to share and accept they will also be advocates for animals who have no one to speak up for them, someone who will respect the animals and the volunteers, then NOTHING will change. You will only transfer this "problem" to someone else who doesn't want it. There is NO reason the Health Department can't run this shelter the way it should be run. There is NO reason for them to fire volunteers who gave over a decade in service, free of charge, to the shelter and the township. There is NO reason for any of this current strife and drama...EXCEPT that the people in charge don't care at all about the animals or those who care for them and the town council isn't interested either. The public is speaking. Now. On behalf of Memphis, yes. But that sweet dog has helped bring to life so many things that have been wrong with that shelter for far too long. Do the right thing. LET MEMPHIS GO HOME TO JEFF AND DIANA! And please, for once, make sure whoever is in charge of the shelter really, truly, gives a damn and knows what they're doing. ~
Pat Gilleran September 30, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Freida Nimitz October 01, 2012 at 04:29 AM
I recently adopted from the shelter, I found the shelter to be clean and friendly. I have been there several times since & asked many questions. I also read the public documents. Have you? Apparently not. I have checked Mr.Coltenbacks qualifications as they were listed on the Save page; at best they have been expired for years. (Candidly I really don't care myself but one shouldn't say that they have certifications or that they are in good standing when they’re not). PittyRescue was listed as a 501c3 yet the IRS has no record; why is that? Call it an oversight or an honest mistake – for most it's called fraud and deceit. No one forgets to pay their taxes for 2 years. The dog was left alone with children just days after taken into his care; he intentionally posted those pic all over FB in an effort to discredit the expert’s evaluation. Expert Jim Crosby (Mr Coltenbacks evaluator) said he wouldn't allow that dog near children for months. How is Mr Coltenbacks opinion more valuable than Mr Crosby or Ms. Silvani? It’s not. He blew his chance to rehabilitate this dog – it’s time for him move on. If the dog becomes adoptable he can put in an application like everybody else. BTW the crocodile tears are very unbecoming of a man his age. Making a mockery of BOH officials and handling this matter through social media to blister attention isn't endearing to anyone. This is a nice shelter; being destroyed over one dog that never needing saving.
Claudette Azevedo October 01, 2012 at 12:27 PM
It is the BOH's responsibility to ensure public safety. In Memphis’ case, they have three professional evaluations stating he needs rehabilitation. I've read the legal agreement between the BOH and Jeff Coltenbeck, whereby Jeff agreed to care for Memphis in a manner that would not pose harm to the public. I then saw pictures posted on this site by Jeff showing Memphis head to head with a small child. I've also seen posts by Jeff stating that Memphis doesn’t need rehabilitation. Jeff tied the BOH’s hands, leaving them no choice but to remove Memphis from his care. Although well intentioned, Jeff displayed gross errors in judgement that put Memphis and the community at risk. Since then, a circus has been created, fueled by hate. I've seen pictures of Ms. Lore as "Cruella de Lore" and a Nazi soldier. It's clear that this poor dog has been used as a vehicle to air grievances against the BOH and Ms. Lore. While I do not live in Bloomfield, family and friends of mine do…family and friends with babies, small children and elderly parents...family and friends some of whom, for whatever reason, are fearful of strong breed dogs…family and friends who appreciate the BOH doing everything possible to ensure their safety. I for one am happy that Memphis has been removed from this circus so he can finally receive the rehabilitation he deserves.


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