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.