The future of Memphis, a 2- or 3-year-old dog impounded at New Jersey’s Bloomfield Animal Shelter since February 2012, hangs in the balance.
Citizens of Bloomfield held a protest outside Town Hall before confronting city council members during a township council meeting on Tuesday.
According to the speakers’ accounts, Memphis was recently offered a loving home, but Board of Health officials, who have deemed Memphis to be “unadoptable,” rejected the potential adoption.
The dog has no history of biting anyone while in the shelter’s care, officials have said.
Jeff Coltenbeck, a local dog trainer who is known for his expertise with “difficult” or aggressive dogs, wants to adopt Memphis.
“Dog trainers, veterinarians, refer people to me,” Coltenbeck declared, addressing the council. “Mr. Mayor, a few years ago, your own dog – you couldn’t get near him. You didn’t call the health department, you didn’t call animal control, you called me.”
Mayor Raymond McCarthy said that the town was following protocol in delaying the adoption because in the process of evaluating the dog, Coltenbeck had allowed Memphis to be near children – a violation of the conditions agreed upon prior to the evaluation.
Adding to the heated discussion, some speakers protested what they described was inhumane treatment of Memphis during his time at the shelter by veterinary technicians. The account of one former volunteer of Memphis’s treatment while at the shelter brought some audience members to tears.
Even though McCarthy assured the protesters that Memphis would be re-evaluated soon in order to proceed with the adoption, there is already a history of volatile relations between the Board of Health and members of the public.
Recently, two officers from the Board of Health banned certain volunteers from assisting at the shelter.
Protesters attribute the situation in part to nothing more than a power struggle.
“It’s always politics,” said protester Darleen Troutman. “That’s what the fight’s all about. Bloomfield wants to win. They’ve forgotten the animals.”