Council looking to ban any new pit bulls within the city limits

By Charlie Warner
Argus Editor

Spurred on by an attack of a pit bull that resulted in the death of another dog and injuries to its owner, the Caledonia City Council spent considerable time discussing the creation of a dangerous and vicious animal ordinance last week.

According to Caledonia Police Chief Kurt Zehnder, Helen Olson was walking her miniature pinscher along the 800 block of East Grove Street on May 8 around 1 p.m. when a pit bull attacked the small dog, mauled it and ultimately killed it. Olson sustained injuries to her hand as she attempted to pull the pit bull from her dog. Her injuries required medical attention.

The pit bull was taken into custody by City Animal Control Officer Mike Gavin and observed for 10 days. The dog had all its shots. But it was discovered the dog had a micro chip identifying the animal as a potentially dangerous dog. The micro chip was placed in the dog, per state statute, following an attack that occurred when the dog was not living in Caledonia.

The dog has been put down.

“We need to put our foot down on this issue,” Zehnder told the council. “I was there. I saw what happened. It was horrendous. What happened to that small dog made me sick. We were so fortunate that a child wasn’t involved. We could have had a fatality.”

Gavin told the council that the only breed of dog he has had issues with are pit bulls and half-breed pit bulls.

“I believe the background and the breeding of this type of dog makes them quite vicious. This is one breed of dog I really don’t think we want in our community,” Gavin said. “What happened on Grove Street is indescribable.”

Zehnder said there are other cities that do not allow pit bulls. He cited Minneapolis as one major municipality that has zero tolerance for pit bulls. He added that pit bulls are illegal in the state of Colorado.

“People have had many bad experiences with pit bulls,” Zehnder said. “That’s why they have zero tolerances in many places.”

City Clerk/Administrator Jennifer Feely said City Attorney Tim Murphy recommended that a separate ordinance dealing with vicious dogs be prepared and approved by the council.

It was pointed out that pit bulls currently in Caledonia will be grandfathered in. But, like all dogs,  they must be licensed, which will help Gavin and the local police department keep better track of them. But no new pit bulls or half-breeds will be allowed within the city limits.

The topic will be revisited at the June 11 council meeting and the new ordinance possibly approved.

In other council action:

Police cars

Zehnder informed the council that the new police car will be arriving in the near future. Several pieces of equipment from the squad that will be retired won’t fit on the new car. He estimated the equipment swap snafu will cost just under $500.

“It’s too bad no one saw that coming, but you have continued to run your department under budget each year and I commend you for that,” Councilman Tom Murphy told Zehnder.

Zehnder then told the council that the city of Spring Grove will be retiring a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria with 103,000 miles on it when they purchase a new car later this year. He felt the city could purchase the car for $4,000.

Zehnder said the purchase of the used squad would improve the city’s fleet. Due to state aid cuts, the department has been forced to squeeze several more years out of their squad cars and the one that is scheduled to be rotated out next year has been costing the city copious amounts of money in repairs.

For $4,000, the council agreed it would be a prudent thing to do.

A motion by Mayor Bob Burns and seconded by Councilwoman Randi Vick to approve the purchase of the used squad for $4,000 was unanimously approved.


Gavin reported that there seems to be an increasing skunk problem in the city. He has trapped 15 skunks in the past couple of weeks, and knows of at least several more “pockets” of skunks.

Gavin explained that the majority of the skunks are living under utility sheds that have wooden floors. They are able to dig under the wooden floor of a shed and exist quite nicely there. Sheds located on cement slabs or sheds with gravel or dirt floors don’t provide for the same “homey” conditions sheds with wooden floors do.

The council will take a look at changing the city’s ordinance dealing with utility sheds to alleviate  the problem. In the meantime, Gavin will continue to trap the black and white animals.

Pedestrian crossing lights

The council approved a motion to order the pedestrian crossing light system that will be located over Highways 44/76 at the intersection of Foltz Drive. The cost of the system is approximately $11,000. The other crosswalk lights will also be reinstalled following the highway improvement project this summer.

Utility vacation approved

The council approved the utility vacation for Jim Hoscheit. Hoscheit plans to construct a new home located at 605 East Park Street but needs the utility easement.

A public hearing was held, no one presented any testimony, for or against the proposed vacation.

A motion by Burns and seconded by Councilman Paul Fisch to approve the vacation was unanimously approved.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]