Friday, May 25, 2012

The players, part 2

The Ohio County Dog Wardens Association has traditionally opposed any change to Ohio's laws as written, regarding dogs. This opposition blocked previous efforts to remove Ohio's designation of pit bulls as vicious dogs. The old guard members of the Executive Board had term limited out and a new President of the organization was elected for 2011. This was young and ambitious Matt Granito. Granito has a long history of mutual admiration with Best Friends. (link #2)

Granito traveled from rural Ohio to to Oregon to appear as featured speaker at the April 22 - 24, 2005 Seminar held by Best Friends in Portland, Oregon. Granito's history with Best Friends is documented to 2005.

Also a favored contact of Best Friends is Mark Kumpf , Montgomery County Dog Warden and member of the OCDWA Executive Board. Kumpf made the trip to Best Friends Sanctuary in January of 2007 for a conference. Kumpf made influential friends at that conference and was visited by the retired Best Friends CEO Paul Berry in 2009. Here is Berry's account of that visit, it is a love letter.

Thank you to Best Friends for thoroughly documenting their long standing, warm, working relationship with Granito and Kumpf. This warm relationship was critical for passage of HB14.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on December 6, 2011, Matt Granito began his remarks with these words "My name is Matt Granito and I am the President of the Ohio County Dog Wardens Association, whom I represent here this morning. Our association agrees with Representative Sears that alternative legislation can fulfill the dual goals of insuring community safety and ending breed specific legislation. Our members want fair and balanced legislation...." Please remember that Granito states he speaks for the members of the OCDWA, we will get back to that a bit later.

Dog Warden Kumpf testified in that same hearing. He began his remarks with these words "There has been a great deal of testimony regarding this bill and most speakers emphasizing the same points: the current legislation is defective, discriminates against a specific breed, and is due for a change. I believe all parties agree on those points." Dog Warden Kumpf might have spoken with officials of the Dayton Health Department prior to his testimony, it is unlikely that they would agree with his characterization of "discrimination" against pit bulls . The city of Dayton is located in Montgomery County, Ohio. Dayton keeps bite statistics by species and breed. The number one biter in Dayton is the pit bull with 117 of 736 recorded dog bites during the period of 6/28/2010 to 6/28/2011. The next highest was mixes of all breeds with 64 bites.

Granito and Kumpf threw the support of the OCDWA solidly behind HB14. This point was heavily emphasized to Legislators, however during the final hearings it was found that the rank-and-file members of the organization had never been consulted, had never been given the opportunity to voice their thoughts on the bill, never voted on it. Ohio Legislative Services Commission (part of Ohio State Government) created a list of proponents and opponents to HB14. On that list of opponents there were two county dog wardens, one a member of the OCDWA Executive Board. The OCDWA membership had never even been given information on hearing dates. A County Dog Warden did appear to testify against the bill because he had seen a notice about the hearing... on the news.

Apparently Granito was not elected to a second term as president of the OCDWA, possibly a lack of faith from the membership. A President Elect is named on the organization website. County Dog Wardens acknowledge the expected result of HB 14 will be an increase in pit bull attacks. Insurance is no longer required for pit bulls. Victims will pay for their medical treatment, in serious attacks the sky is the limit for medical bills. More about insurance later.

Next time we will talk about the Toledo Blade, and the Breed Specific Advocate.

Note - Elected officials will be identified by name and position, organizations will be identified by name, professional pit bull advocates will be identified by name and organization. Private citizens will not be named.