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Willmar City Council gives OK to ordinance pertaining to animals

WILLMAR — An ordinance that establishes a process and procedure for defining a “potentially dangerous animal’’ and a “dangerous animal,’’ and defines the Willmar Police Department as the city’s animal control authority, has been approved by the City Council.

The ordinance was recommended by   the council’s Public Works/ Safety Committee and was approved following a public hearing Monday night.

Police Chief David Wyffels said a previous ordinance provided no recourse for animal owners to contest whether or not their animal is dangerous.

The city also lacked naming a specific entity or body or person as the animal control authority. The new ordinance does those things, he said.

During the hearing, Bobbie Bauman, director of operations for Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in Willmar, asked if the bitten person will need to file a complaint with the police department to start the process.

Wyffels said the incident would have to be brought to the attention of the police department for the incident to be recognized by the city.

Also, Bauman asked if the ordinance bans any particular breed of dogs. Wyffels said there is no breed ban and said the ordinance refers to animals and animal behavior.

Specifically, the ordinance defines a “potentially dangerous animal’’ as one that has when unprovoked bitten a human or domestic animal on public or private property; has chased or approached a person on public or private property in an apparent attitude of attack; or has a known history or propensity to attack, causing injury or threatening the safety of humans or domestic animals.

The ordinance defines a “dangerous animal’’ as an animal that has killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property; has bitten one or more persons on two or more occasions; and caused substantial bodily harm to any person on public or private property.

In addition, the ordinance establishes the Willmar Police Department as the animal control authority, and the ordinance provides due process for animal owners who wish to contest the designation that their animal is dangerous.

Attorney duties set, truck purchase OK’d

In other business this week, the council held a hearing and approved an ordinance that establishes the position, and duties and responsibilities of the city attorney in city ordinance.

The attorney shall be appointed by the council or the council may contract for legal services with a licensed individual or law firm. The council is currently contracting with a Twin Cities law firm for the services of attorney Robert Scott.

The ordinance was requested by the Charter Commission, said City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday. He said the city administrator’s duties are enumerated in ordinance, but the attorney’s had not been prior to this action.

Also Monday, the council approved the purchase of a replacement aerial bucket truck for the Public Works Department in the amount of $179,424 from the National Joint Powers Alliance.

Funds for the truck were included in the 2013 capital outlay program, which the council approved earlier this year. However, all equipment and capital purchases over $10,000 require council approval under a policy recently enacted by the council.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150