The Fulton County Commissioners unanimously agreed last week not to amend a 2015 resolution which would have added a regional “pitbull” adoption and rescue agency to a list of agencies allowed to take possession of pitbull-type dogs housed at the county dog pound.
The executive director of the Lucas County Pit Crew, the organization the commissioners rejected, called the decision short-sighted and “politics at its worst.”
In a vote tabled at their Dec. 22 session, the commissioners moved 3-0 Thursday to exclude the pitbull rescue group from a list of humane societies they approved last June to accept pitbull-type dogs deemed adoptable. The commissioners had turned down the Pit Crew’s initial request to be included, saying it’s a rescue agency and they planned to approve only humane societies for the dog transfers.
Prior to the resolution passed last summer, pitbull-type dogs housed by the dog pound that were not claimed were euthanized.
Commissioner Bill Rufenacht said he voted against the amendment after completing research that showed the present system for dog transfers is satisfactory. Rufenacht had requested the vote be tabled at the previous meeting so he could conduct his research.
He declined to say what type of research he did, but cited statistics showing 96.2 percent of eligible pitbull-type dogs at the county dog pound were either adopted out or transferred to humane societies.
“We decided that we’re going to use humane societies, period,” Rufenacht said. “We’re not telling humane societies that they can’t adopt out or transfer dogs to anybody they want to. We put no restrictions on them.”
Jean Keating, the Lucas County Pit Crew’s executive director, had requested an audience with the commissioners at their Dec. 22 session. Because they tabled the amended resolution they invited her instead to their Dec. 29 session. Keating did not attend the meeting because she had the flu.
However, when she viewed the meeting agenda one day prior she realized she had been scheduled to speak after the commissioners were to vote on amending the resolution.
She is also angry that, in the week between the sessions, no one on the commissioners’ board contacted the Pit Crew to research the organization.
“In a week’s time, while I’ve been waiting for the research, absolutely nothing was done,” she said. “No research, no contact with us, and the decision was made. That was politics at its worst. How did they make that decision? There was no discussion at that meeting.”
Keating said the commissioners have yet to offer her an explanation. “They had already made that decision without our input,” she said.
Rufenacht countered by saying the Pit Crew has the ability to follow what Fulton County has done with the pitbull-type dogs. He said the board’s decision “has nothing to do with what the Pit Crew does or doesn’t do.”
County Administrator Vond Hall noted that the commissioners established the policy “some time ago,” and added, “I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the topic.”
According to Keating, of five pitbull-type dogs transferred from the county dog pound after the resolution passed last June, four ended up at the Pit Crew. The first was signed over by the Henry County Humane Society. Two others were transferred there after removal from the dog pound by Fulton County Humane Society representative Carol Dopp. The fourth was turned over to the Pit Crew, again by Dopp, who Keating said was given the animal by the dog pound without representing a humane society. It is currently in foster care.
Dopp, who founded Fulton County No Kill in October 2013, said the last time she came for a dog she informed Dog Warden Brian Banister she was taking it to a veterinarian on behalf of the Pit Crew. She said he didn’t object, and didn’t require her to sign a release form.
Later, when she retrieved Banister’s records through the Freedom of Information Act, she discovered he never reported where the dog was taken, and didn’t list her name or that of the Fulton County Humane Society.
“All it said is ‘rescue,’” Dopp said. “(Banister) has nothing to prove which hat I had on that day.”
Keating called the commissioners’ vote “just an example of a larger issue that goes on in Fulton County. They make their decisions based on their own issues, and not on facts and research.”
Their apparent reluctance to work with the Pit Crew is based on personal vendettas that resulted from the county’s own infractions, Keating claimed. Following a complaint filed by Dopp, the Fulton County dog pound was cited by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for improper use of an incinerator and failure to have proper licensure. Last June, the county was cited by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy for using controlled drugs without a license, a complaint Keating filed several months earlier.
“They’re angry that we’re pointing it out to outside agencies that their employee is not doing his job…They’re turning it around and making it seem like we’re the problem,” she said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.