Dog Expert: Memphis is "Unadoptable" -- For Now

At the Bloomfield Town Hall Forum Thursday night, canine behaviorist Jim Crosby presented his videotaped evaluation of the pit bull.


At a town hall forum about Memphis the pit bull, an expert said the dog is not yet ready for adoption – and won’t be until he is fully rehabilitated.

Jim Crosby, a Florida animal expert hired by Bloomfield Township, said on Thursday he conducted a thorough evaluation of the dog, who has become famous locally.

Crosby presented a videotape of the session at a two-hour Town Hall Forum Thursday night.  Crosby said the dog is not a candidate for euthanasia, but recommended that he undergo a carefully-monitored rehabilitation program.

The news that the dog would not be put to sleep seemed to cause a collective sigh of relief by the animal’s supporters who attended the hearing.

“The rehabilitation for Memphis needs to be done in a controlled environment,” said Crosby, “meaning, some place where he doesn’t have a chance to mess up and ruin his chances [for improvement] . . . after a period of time, I think he would be appropriate for potential placement in a carefully screened home.”

When pressed to say whether he considered the dog "unadoptable," Crosby said yes.

Since the February day Memphis first arrived at the shelter, he has been the subject of heated controversy – and sometimes acrimony – between Bloomfield Board of Health officials and shelter employees.  Claiming the dog was being mistreated by health department employees – which the Board of Health has consistently denied -- Memphis' supporters launched a concerted campaign to "Save Memphis." 

Supporters of the Save Memphis campaign have an actively chronicled the saga on their Facebook page.

On Thursday, council chambers were filled almost to capacity as Crosby presented his videotaped evaluation, followed by a question and answer session hosted by Lore and Health Officer Mike Fitzpatrick. Police officers were positioned at all times near the two Health Department officials.

The event was largely peaceful --save for a few shouted comments – and afterward Lore she said she was satisfied with the outcome.

“Our intention was to have a non-biased person come in who was not involved [in the controversy] in any way,” she told Patch.  “He determined the dog was unadoptable.”

Crosby’s findings concurred with a previous evaluation of the dog by St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison that deemed Memphis an unsuitable candidate for adoption due to aggression issues. 

However, the St. Hubert’s report was strongly contested by Bloomfield animal trainer Jeff Coltenbeck, who conducted his own eight-day home evaluation of the dog. Coltenbeck concluded the dog is ready to be placed in a home environment now and sought to adopt the dog himself.  His application was denied.

Upon hearing Memphis once again called “unadoptable,” Coltenbeck approached Lore after the meeting and served her with court papers. 

“My objective was serve Karen with a lawsuit.  I’ll be serving [papers to] the animal shelter and [Township Attorney] Brian Aloia tomorrow,” he said

Afterward, Lore refused to comment on the Coltenbecks’ action.  As for Coltenbeck, he said he had no other recourse. “I tried being nice and doing it their way.  Now we’ll let the courts decide.”

Though he declined to discuss specific charges, Coltenbeck told Patch details of the lawsuit would soon become public knowledge.

The “Save Memphis” campaign was the latest disagreement between   A few months ago Health Department Director Karen Lore , a move that created a hailstorm of protest from the volunteers, and accusations of misconduct on both sides.

Geoff Gove September 28, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Many of us in the room watching the videos for the first time were convinced that Crosby would conclude that there were no issues requiring continued incarceration. I spoke to Jeff recently about that and he had the same feeling. When I was a teenager, I had a golden retriever mix for 10 years that never would have made it out of Bloomfield's Shelter.
Stephen A. Strunsky October 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I've now read two complete Bloomfield Patch stories about Memphis after seeing "Free Memphis" signs in Montclair and a snippit of a News12 story on t.v., and yet I still have no idea how Memphis came to be held at the Bloomfield shelter, who brought him there and why, who were his owners and where did they keep him, or any other factual elements of his background and situation. Can someone please fill me in. Thanks very much.
Shannon Burk October 02, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I am so sad for Memphis! All this time he is in a shelter, where he gets limited human contact, limited exercise and little to no love! These people should try spending the amount of time they have had Memphis in a Jail cell to feel how this poor baby feels. I am all for the Coltenbacks’ adopting Memphis. They are trainers already and they obviously love him very much. Enough is enough! Stop abusing Memphis and allow him to have a loving life already! <3 Memphis and the Coltenbacks’
Geoff Gove October 02, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Steven: Here's the first hand account by the Animal Control Officer who first found Memphis: ~ MEMPHIS ~ Shared from the ACO who picked him up: Moira Ghant Memphis was initially caught on a pole then I transferred him to a leash once him behavior/temperament was established...he was calm and willingly hopped into my personal vehicle and was transported to the shelter...He made himself comfy for the ride he was tired long morning... I walked him into the shelter on leash filled out intake form and set him up in his cage with food and water...he did not give me any trouble at all and was well mannered... he did not growl or show any signs of aggression towards me at any time either on pick up or during the 7months I cared for him... I bathed him walked him around the shelter...he was the same from the day I picked him up Memphis till my last day there February 6Th 2012 till August 2012...I have never seen him behave (BAD) to anyone he sit, stay, smile and grunt like a pig I never used treat with Memphis he listened...I named him Memphis. https://www.facebook.com/stbbs?fref=ts
Shannon Burk October 02, 2012 at 09:14 PM
@ Stephen A. Strunsky They state "Memphis, a stray pit bull mix was picked up by an animal control officer in February" They state they do not know who his people were or if he had any, though he seems very nice and cared for I bet there was someone once upon a time.


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