Loose dogs irk Blue Earth leaders

BLUE EARTH — Blue Earth City Council this week tackled concerns over unleashed and unlicensed pets in the city.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord brought up the issue. He believes Blue Earth residents need to be more responsible with their animals, especially when it comes to owners not putting leashes on their dogs.

“Anybody should be able to walk on any of our streets without some dog running up and trying to attack them,” Gaylord said.

Blue Earth Police Chief Tom Fletcher said the best thing to do when dealing with such animal issues is to call the police. The quickest way is to call 911.

Fletcher said that if a pet is unlicensed, an owner is given three days to get it registered.

“It isn’t that difficult to license,” Fletcher said. “You stop at City Hall and you pay a $5 fee versus a $50 fine if you get caught with an unlicensed animal.”

Fletcher said the police department deals with animal complaints on a case-by-case basis, depending on how many times they have had to deal with a certain resident.

Fletcher said the cost to retrieve a dog from the pound after it has been picked up is progressive, meaning it costs more every time the dog is put in the pound.

The council discussed having ordinance violation fines, such as having an unleashed animal, also be progressive.

“It could have an impact,” said Councilman John Huisman.

Mayor Richard Scholtes said the issue needs to be taken more seriously.

“I’ve called the Sheriff’s Office probably in the last year seven times on the same dog,” he said. “Nothing happens; it still runs loose in the neighborhood every day.”

Scholtes suggested the city should direct the police department to issue tickets when they see a dog without a leash. He also suggested that residents who have unregistered animals have one day to get their pet registered, with a $50 fine for every day they are late.

Scholtes said he also would like to work on having the city’s leash law cleaned up, including putting in a provision that invisible electronic leashes do not count as a leash.

“Because the person that’s walking that’s deadly afraid of that dog doesn’t know it’s under control,” Scholtes said.

The council also spoke about the possibility of a dog park in Blue Earth.

City Administrator Tim Ibisch said creating a dog park has been discussed in the past, and the city has identified two possible locations. He said the Parks and Recreation Board plans to talk about a dog park at its meeting in the spring.

The council will speak more about changing the leash law and fines at its next work session. For now, they will work with Blue Earth police officers to start issuing more tickets for unleashed animals.