The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office filed charges Monday and Tuesday against a pitbull rescue organization and three associated people for interfering with the county’s efforts to quarantine a pitbull-type dog that allegedly bit its owner.
The charges come one week after Fulton County’s commissioners rejected the organization’s bid to adopt out pitbull-type dogs from the county dog pound.
The Lucas County Pit Crew, its executive director, Jean Keating, and Andrea Walters face one count each of obstruction of official business, a second-degree misdemeanor, and violating a rabies quarantine, a minor misdemeanor. Pit Crew volunteer Kevin Bauer faces one count of violating a rabies quarantine.
All are scheduled to appear in court before Judge Jeff Robinson on Feb. 9 at 8:45 a.m.
Sheriff Roy Miller said the charges stem from the defendants’ resistance to removing Bosco, a two-year-old pitbull-type dog, from quarantine in Bauer’s home in order to place the dog in quarantine at the Fulton County Dog Pound. He said the Fulton County Prosecutor’s office contacted his office requesting assistance in filing the criminal charges.
Wauseon Police Chief Keith Torbet confirmed that a report was filed stating Bosco bit one of its owners, Matt Boughton, on Dec. 26 at his parents’ home.
After the incident the Pit Crew, from whom Boughton had adopted Bosco, took the dog to Bauer’s home in Fulton County for quarantine. The Fulton County Health Department requires a minimum 10-day quarantine for an animal that has bitten someone, to be held within the county where the bite took place.
The sheriff’s office served a warrant Dec. 30 to remove Bosco from the home on County Road J after the Pit Crew resisted the county’s efforts to claim the dog for quarantine. Miller said Bauer was cooperative when the warrant was served.
A news release issued Tuesday by Toni Schindler, the county commissioners’ marketing and communications director, said the quarantine “is protocol followed by the assigned agency of the Fulton County Health Department as required by the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code.” The release said the decision was not made by the county commissioners or Dog Warden Brian Banister.
Banister said Wednesday that Bosco remains in the custody of the dog pound. The quarantine will be lifted Friday, Jan. 8. He would not comment on the fate of the dog beyond that date.
A Pit Crew spokesperson was not available for comment. On the organization’s “Justice for Bosco” Facebook page, Banister is accused of having a vendetta against the Pit Crew. The page states: “…Banister has gone above and beyond normal bite incident protocols and forced Bosco to be quarantined at the Fulton County Dog Pound instead of the foster home where he was taken after the bite incident was reported.”
The page further explains that Boughton’s parents house a dog with a bite history, and the organization suspects it’s responsible for the biting incident rather than Bosco. It states that the charges against Keating and the others “are practically unheard of involving a dog bite,” and call them an abuse of authority.
Boughton did not respond to a request for comment, and Fulton County Prosecutor Scott Haselman replied with a list of the charges filed against individuals but did not comment further.
At a Dec. 31 Fulton County Commissioners session, the board voted unanimously against amending the Pit Crew to a 2015 resolution that permits humane societies to adopt pitbull-type dogs from the county dog pound. The commissioners said the organization is a rescue agency, and therefore does not qualify.
Prior to passage of that resolution, pitbull-type dogs were euthanized if not claimed by their owners.
Keating called the commissioners’ decision short-sighted and “politics at its worst.” Commissioner Bill Rufenacht, who had the resolution tabled at a previous session so he could research it, responded, “We decided that we’re going to use humane societies, period.”
Rufenacht added that the legislation places no restrictions on the humane societies’ attempts to transfer or adopt out the dogs.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.