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Aggressive dogs won't be allowed at Kandiyohi County parks

WILLMAR -- A new policy that goes into effect this year will prohibit vicious dogs and exotic animals from Kandiyohi County parks.

The policy was approved Dec. 20 by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners after hearing complaints from park managers about being bitten by campers' dogs. One park manager also reported that a camper had brought a bobcat to a county park.

"Bobcats have no place around a lot of people," said Richard Falk, chairman of the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, in an interview Monday.

Falk said with more people using the county park campgrounds, it was "prudent" to have a policy on the books regarding "dogs that can be a problem."

The commissioners had initially discussed banning specific breeds of dogs, like Rottweilers or the breeds commonly referred to as pit bulls. There was even a brief discussion about banning dogs altogether from the parks. But the policy that was approved says that dogs "with aggressive or vicious tendencies" will not be allowed in the parks.

Jessica Quirt, who owns five purebred American pit bull terrier dogs, said the new policy is a good one because it doesn't restrict dogs based on what breed they are, but on their temperament.

Quirt, who has been "rescuing" dogs for 10 years and operates Heart of the Beast Kennel in Renville with her boyfriend, Rick Mickle, said she takes her dogs to county parks to play and socialize with other dogs.

"There are nasty pit bulls out there, don't get me wrong," she said. There are also "a lot of really bad owners" who don't train or control their dogs properly. But Quirt said her dogs, and many other pit bulls, are gentle and well-behaved and should be allowed at parks.

Quirt said she hopes park managers won't ask people to remove their dogs based just on the animal's breed or look. She said some dogs, like the American Staffordshire terrier, are bred to look tough to compete in shows even though they are actually docile. "The bigger, meaner-looking ones tend to be the pussy cats," she said.

She said if any of her dogs acted aggressively, she would remove them immediately from a park. Dogs that growl at people or pick fights with other dogs "ruin the fun for everyone," said Quirt. Parks, she said, "should be a place for everybody to have fun."

Falk agrees. "We're concerned about everybody who uses our parks and we don't take kindly to dog bites. Most pets are very, very good," he said. "People know when their pets are aggressive, and we respectfully ask them not to bring them to the park."

The policy also states that people with wild or exotic animals, like bears, wolves, lions, cougars and bobcats or "other large carnivores," will be required to remove the animal immediately.

Failure to do so will result in the loss of all park privileges. Anyone who doesn't leave after a park manager makes the request will be considered a trespasser, according to the policy.

Falk said the policy may have to be "tweaked" as it's put into play this summer but said he hopes it works well as it is currently written.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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