“The evil men do lives after them,” but pit bull victims are dead forever
DAYTON, Ohio––Seven years after former Montgomery County dog warden Mark Kumpf led the campaign that effectively dismantled the Ohio dangerous dog law, Montgomery County state representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) is on January 23, 2019 to introduce yet another of many bills seeking to undo the damage without reinstating breed-specific language.
This is an impossibility, if the goal of the legislation is to prevent fatal and disfiguring dog attacks before they occur, but about 90% of all fatal and disfiguring dog attacks could be prevented if “bully breeds,” responsible for approximately 90% of all fatal and disfiguring dog attacks on humans in the U.S. over the past 36 years, were put under appropriate restrictions.
Sponsor opposes “gun-free zones”
The Antani bill appears to be mostly an attempt to undo the harm that Antani did in March 2018 to his own image on public safety issues by advocating that 18-year-olds should be allowed to carry guns on high school and college campuses. Antani asserted then that “gun-free zones don’t work.”
The Antani bill comes “five years after the fatal mauling of Dayton resident Klonda Richey,” 57, on February 7, 2014, observed Dayton Daily News state capitol bureau reporter Laura A. Bischoff.
Names bill after child victim, who survived
“Antani, however, will name his bill after 8-year-old Savannah Coleman, a Miami Township girl who was attacked in July 2018 by a neighbor’s 60-pound pit bull,” Bischoff continued.
“Savannah suffered a skull fracture, nine lacerations to her scalp, three lacerations to her right ear, and two lacerations and a puncture wound to her right hand,” Bischoff explained. “She required hundreds of stitches, a blood transfusion and five nights in the hospital,” according to Coleman’s mother, Tierney Dumont.
“Bills named after Richey failed to gain traction in three previous legislative sessions,” Bischoff remembered. “One died in committee in 2014, another failed to win final approval in 2016, and a third bill failed in 2018. Antani will be the fifth area lawmaker to take on the issue.”
Kumpf fired 11 days before Christmas
Kumpf was fired by the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2018, but the decision to fire him had already been made earlier, after the Montgomery County Animal Resource center flunked an extensive procedural review done from November 26, through November 30, 2018 by Team Shelter USA, a consulting firm formed in 2017 by veteran shelter veterinarian Sara Pizano.
Pizano debuted in shelter work in 1995, as a staff veterinarian for the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York. Pizano left North Shore to become director of veterinary services for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1998-2003. From 2005 to 2013, Pizano was director of Miami-Dade Animal Services, also in Florida. Then, from 2013 to 2017, Pizano was a team member at Target Zero, a no-kill consultancy set up by Maddie’s Fund and the Best Friends Animal Society.
Joining Pizano on the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center review team were Becca Boronat, DVM, of the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, Cameron Moore from the University of Florida, and Kim Sanders, DVM, of Anderson County (S.C.) PAWS.
“Desire to move forward with new leadership”
“The [Montgomery County] Board of County Commissioners and the County Administrator desire to move forward with new leadership at the Animal Resource Center in order to implement recommendations of the recent external review,” county administrator Michael Colbert informed animal control staff on December 10, 2018.
Kumpf had survived a series of controversies over allegedly lackadaisical responses to dangerous dog incidents, including in two cases where repeated complaints preceded human fatalities.
But Kumpf––who was praised in a 2008 cover feature by the Humane Society of the U.S. publication Animal Sheltering for reducing Animal Resource Center shelter euthanasias and increasing adoptions––did not survive criticism from Team Shelter USA for having a “live release rate” of 56.7%, instead of 90% plus.
The use of “live release rate” as a benchmark of animal control agency performance, as ANIMALS 24-7 has often pointed out, is statistical nonsense, since it fails to take into consideration the characteristics of the agency’s intake.
If a community has reduced surplus dog and cat births to the point that the animal control agency is seldom receiving healthy whole litters, and has adopted the neuter/return model of feral cat control, total animal intake today is usually less than half of the intake volume of 30 years ago.
The number of dangerous dogs the agency impounds may be exactly the same as 30 years ago, yet will have risen as a percentage of animal intake from less than 5% to more than 15%, and more than 30% of dogs.
Under those circumstances, achieving a 90% “live release rate” will mean that the shelter is returning a third or more of the impounded dangerous dogs to the community––as well as just not impounding them, one of the longstanding focal complaints against Kumpf.
The Team Shelter USA evaluation also found that Animal Resource Center staff “improperly store vaccines, reuse syringes and likely run afoul of the state law and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency by not keeping track of a euthanasia solution called Fatal Plus,” wrote Dayton Daily News staff writer Chris Stewart.
Stewart updated on January 9, 2019 that “Both the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office have opened separate investigations” into the allegations pertaining to possible misuse or mishandling of controlled substances.
“A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office investigator has been looking into other allegations made against the Animal Resource Center that are potentially criminal,” Stewart added, “including the disappearance of a dog’s body ordered preserved by a judge in a criminal case against its owners, who also filed a civil lawsuit last year against the ARC for euthanizing the dog there in 2016.
Dispute over Dyson
The dog, a 10-year-old pit bull named Dyson [incorrectly identified as a Labrador in some media reports], “was seized by a Kettering animal control official in October 2016 and euthanized five days later,” Stewart summarized earlier.
Dyson’s owners, Josh and Lindsey Glowney, “were prosecuted for misdemeanor animal cruelty/neglect in Kettering Municipal Court,” Stewart wrote. “They pleaded no contest, were found guilty and the criminal case is in an appellate court.”
The Glowneys meanwhile responded, Stewart continued, with “a civil lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court alleging 20 counts including negligence, constitutional violations, trespassing, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other tort complaints.”
Their attorney, Paul Leonard, “was notified on December 10, 2018 by Montgomery County’s legal counsel representing Kumpf and Kelley Meyer, the facility’s veterinarian, that the dog’s carcass could not be found,” Stewart reported.
This was about two weeks after Team Shelter USA mentioned finding that “deceased bodies” were thawing in a malfunctioning shelter freezer, “with strong stench smelled in the euthanasia room and nearby hallways.”
The Glowney litigation appears to have ended with an August 23, 2019 ruling against the Glowneys on all counts, issued by the Ohio Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District.
Montgomery County, before the lawsuit over Dyson and the Team Shelter USA assessment, had strongly defended Kumpf, awarding him a 2.5% pay raise in August 2014, six months after Klonda Richey’s death, and allocating at least $165,000 since September 2015 toward the cost of defending him against a lawsuit filed against both Kumpf and the county by Richey’s family.
The case is scheduled for trial by jury in March 2019.
Richey was killed by two dogs belonging to her neighbors, variously identified in court documents as “large-breed pit bulls, mastiffs, or cane corsos.”
Richey “made approximately 13 calls to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center and at least 11 calls to the Animal Resource Center” seeking protection from the dogs who killed her in the months before her death,” summarized Dayton Daily News staff writer Chris Stewart.
Destruction of evidence
“Richey was so scared of the dogs,” Stewart wrote, “that she installed a fence between the two houses, put up a security camera to monitor when the dogs were off leash, and sought a civil protection order [against the dogs’ owner], which was denied.”
The lawsuit by Richey’s survivors initially focused just on the failure of Kumpf and the Animal Resource Center to respond effectively to her calls for help.
In March 2015, Stewart wrote, “the plaintiff’s counsel warned the Animal Resource Center to preserve documents and records and ‘refrain from destroying all potentially discoverable information’ that could be related to Richey’s death.”
In mid-2018, however, the lawsuit against Kumpf and Montgomery County was amended, Stewart reported, to additionally allege that Montgomery County had “willfully and with malicious purpose destroyed highly relevant public records,” specifically years worth of animal control truck logs preceding Richey’s death, “with intent to disrupt plaintiff’s existing lawsuit against defendant Mark Kumpf.”
Dog owners Andrew Nason and Julie Custer meanwhile were found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs, as part of a 2015 plea bargain, and did jail time.
On April 25, 2017, meanwhile, a pit bull belonging to Anthony Austin, 28, of Dayton, killed neighbor Maurice Brown, 60.
“Multiple times in 2008 and 2012, a dog owner at the same address [where Maurice Brown died] was cited for not having a license for his two dogs, both listed as male pit bulls, according to the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center,” reported Cornelius Frolik and Katie Wedell of the Dayton Daily News. Whether the dog owner was Austin, Frolik and Wedell did not say.
In between, in 2011, Frolik and Wedell learned, “9-year-old Dynver Lovett was playing in the yard there when a loose dog from down the block ran up and began to fight with the multiple dogs at that address. The girl was bitten by the loose dog on her arm and leg. She needed 50 stitches and has permanent scarring from the experience.
“Her mother, Kaneika Lovett, said she was never contacted by the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center and the county has no record of the incident. Dayton police also didn’t pursue any charges against the dog’s alleged owners, James Hastings and Carla Whitt,” but the Lovett family in 2013 won a $179,000 civil judgement against Hastings and Whitt, which they never collected because Hastings died in 2015, while Whitt’s whereabouts are unknown.
The Animal Resource Center did respond to a 2015 complaint “regarding the welfare” of the still unlicensed pit bulls, Frolik and Wedell continued, but no further action was taken.
Austin on September 10, 2018 pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to control a dog, filed 16 months after the attack and after extensive publicity about the failure of law enforcement to bring charges. Austin is apparently still awaiting a jury trial originally scheduled for December 2018.
Alleged failure to help dying victim
In the interim, reported Dayton Daily News staff writers Frolik and Mark Gokavi, “Dayton police lieutenant Kimberly Hill, who used to oversee the department’s Professional Standards Bureau, was disciplined for not submitting internal investigations [pertaining to Brown’s death] in time for consideration of discipline for the responding police officers.
“A commander’s review of a related investigation of the dog-mauling case said officers Daniel Hartings and Scott Pendley ‘failed to render immediate assistance and/or first aid.’ Hartings retired in 2017,” Frolik and Gokavi recounted.
Four dog attack fatalities on Kumpf’s watch
Brown was the fourth dog attack fatality in Montgomery County since Kumpf, working closely with the pro-pit bull Animal Farm Foundation and Best Friends Animal Society, used his influence as a longtime board member with both the National Animal Control Association and the Ohio Dog Wardens Association to help secure the repeal of state legislation defining “any breed commonly known as a pit bull dog” as inherently vicious.
The Ohio Dog Wardens Association under earlier leadership had lobbied to win passage of the breed-specific legislation, and had always before defended it.
In the two Montgomery County dog attack fatalities preceding those of Richey and Brown, Dawn Juergens, 75, was killed by her own two Cane Corsos on September 1, 2012, while Elizabeth Hirt, 93, died on December 11, 2012, two weeks after she was mauled by her own two Boston terriers.
This was the only fatal or disfiguring attack by Boston terriers on record.