By Emily Bialkowski
The Houston County Board sent a loud message against dangerous dogs Sept. 4 when they unanimously voted to adopt a $500 dangerous dog fee after a public hearing on the matter.
Houston County Sheriff Doug Ely brought the matter before the board.
“We didn’t have a dangerous dog before but now we do,” Ely said.
The resolution he presented is extracted straight from state statutes and helps define the difference between a dangerous dog and a potentially dangerous dog.
Potentially dangerous means the animal has only attacked or bitten someone once.
To be labeled a dangerous dog the animal must have either attacked or bitten someone twice.
It’s important to note, Ely said, that an animal can be labeled dangerous even if it has never bit someone.
“If it chases 10 people down the road it qualifies,” Ely said.
Commissioners were fervent in their beliefs.
“I think a dog should have one chance, but if that dog has a history…,” Commissioner Tom Bjerke said. “I have no tolerance for a mean dog,” added Commissioner Steve Schuldt.
Along with a $500 permit to have a dangerous dog, the owner must, in part, provide authorities proof of vaccination, pictures of the dog’s kennel, pictures of the dog, proof the dog is microchipped, proof the dog is sterilized, proof of liability insurance and proof of a current license. The owners must post signs on their property and have a tag on the dog. If in public, the dog must be on a leash that is no longer than six feet long and wear a muzzle.
Ely was sure to point out that a dog cannot be labeled by breed.
Commissioner Jack Miller asked who would be in charge of checking the animal for all these items, much to the amusement of those in attendance.
Owners of suspect animals can litigate the accusation at their expense.
No residents attended the public hearing, and the item passed unanimously.