County considers ordinance on animals on the loose
WILLMAR -- A proposal to adopt a county ordinance that would address dangerous animals, animals running at large and prohibited animals has the strong support of Kandiyohi County Board Chairman Dennis Peterson.
Personal experience has convinced him such an ordinance is needed.
In the 1980s, before Peterson was a commissioner, dogs attacked his sheep one night, killing about 70 of them. When he called the sheriff's department, he was told there was nothing law enforcement could do.
Attempts by Peterson and others nearly 30 years ago to convince the County Board of Commissioners to adopt an animal ordinance failed, in part because commissioners at the time objected to the county licensing dogs.
A proposed ordinance that was presented Tuesday to the commissioners does not include a licensing component.
If approved, the ordinance would provide law enforcement with a "tool" for action, said Peterson.
Currently, if there is a dog in the county that is causing problems, or horses or cows that are repeatedly on the road or in a neighbor's yard, about the only thing law enforcement can do is tell people to "work it out with their neighbors," said Sheriff Dan Hartog.
Last year, when a dog reportedly bit several people in the northern part of the county, the Sheriff's Department had to seek special permission from the commissioners to have the animal destroyed.
The proposed ordinance creates options for more direct action.
"It's a good move in the right direction," said Peterson.
A public hearing will be held at 10:15 a.m. Nov. 17.
In other action Tuesday:
? The commissioners took a brief tour of the new building that will house the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County and its animal shelter. The county contributed $250,000 toward construction of the $600,000 facility. The city of Willmar, the Humane Society and Meeker County also contributed to construction of the building, which is set to open Oct. 28. The cities of Benson and Kerkhoven also have contracts to house animals there. The county will own the building, but it will be operated by the Humane Society.
? The proposed 2010 budget for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission was approved, with a strong recommendation to use $12,000 in funds to hire a lobbyist again to attempt to secure projects for the county, including a veterans nursing home.
? Ann Stehn, director of the county Public Health Department, said the department recently received an award for its participation in the Steps to a Healthier Willmar program, along with the other pilot communities of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Rochester. It's the second time Minnesota has been given the prestigious award by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
? The commissioners denied a request from Steve Jennings to abate interest and penalties for late property tax payments. While sympathetic, the commissioners said it would open the door for numerous requests for abatements.