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Dog ordered euthanized after biting multiple people

WILLMAR -- A black Labrador that may have bitten five people in the New London area since 2006, including an incident April 11, was ordered to be euthanized by Friday.

The decision was made Tuesday morning by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners following a hearing that is awarded to the animal's owner under state law.

But when the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Department served the papers early Tuesday afternoon to Brian Johnson, he reportedly told the deputy that his dog had run away.

Perplexed by that situation, the Sheriff's Department intended to consult with County Attorney Boyd Beccue on what action to take next.

Chief Deputy Randy Kveene said Johnson notified authorities later in the day that the dog had been located. Kveene said a deputy went to retrieve it and the animal would be destroyed.

As of Tuesday, Johnson had also not provided authorities with documents regarding the dog's vaccination for rabies, according to Kveene.

During the public hearing before the County Board, Kveene told the commissioners the dog bit a man April 11 as the victim was walking on a road. Photos of the man's leg showed puncture wounds.

During the investigation, the deputy discovered that other people had reported being bitten by the same dog in the past, including a man in April of 2008. Photos were on file of that man's wounds.

Although not positively identified, Kveene said the same dog was likely involved in a biting incident on March 29 of this year. Deputies also spoke to another two or three people who reported being bitten by Johnson's black Lab. A woman said she wasn't bitten but was knocked down by the dog as she was walking on a road.

"There is some history here," Kveene told the commissioners.

He said the reason the case took "so long to get here" is because different deputies handled each investigation and the connection wasn't made until recently.

The commissioners questioned why the decision process to euthanize a dog required their action.

Beccue said that under state law, the animal owner is allowed to have a hearing with an impartial decision-maker before an animal is euthanized. In this case, that responsibility falls to the county.

Johnson was notified April 14 of the hearing but he did not attend.

Commissioner Richard Falk said there should be a more efficient system for handling situations with dangerous animals.

"Every time a dog bites someone, we shouldn't have to get together," said Commissioner Dean Shuck.

Beccue said the county does not currently have a dog ordinance but that he would draft one that could give the commissioners the option of naming a committee to serve as an impartial decision-maker in future cases. He said he'd like to see the ordinance require the animal owner responsible for the cost of testing for rabies.

Carolyn Lange

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

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