This month I was asked to address being a responsible pet owner and what happens when a dog is considered dangerous or potentially dangerous.
We are often asked if Cass County has a “leash law.” At the present time, Cass County does not have an animal control ordinance or “leash law” pertaining to dog owners.
The most basic and unwritten rule of being a dog owner is to Respect Others and their property and in turn you will be respected. This may seem like common sense to some of us, but there are still dog owners who do not follow this. Please be respectful to your neighbors and help give dog owners a good name by following these rules:
• Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in yard when outdoors, especially if you have neighbors. Even though you live in an area where it is legal to allow your dog off-leash, you should supervise him at all times. Do not let him wander the neighborhood or get out of your sight.
• Do not leave a barking dog outdoors. Continuous barking is not only unfair to your dog; it is rude and annoying to neighbors.
• Pick up after your dog.
Your dog should wear a collar at all times with current identification. Consider micro-chipping your dog for an added layer of protection. Proper identification can help you become reunited with your dog, if he gets lost. If you lose your pet or find a stray pet, you can contact the Sheriffs Office dispatch center and the information will be put into a Log. We have helped match up several lost and found pets through this system.
Occasionally we are called to situations where a dog has acted dangerously or has bitten someone. These incidents and our actions are outlined by state statute pertaining to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs.
Under Minnesota law, if a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures a person who is acting peacefully in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner is liable in damages to the person in the full amount of the injury sustained. The term “owner” includes any person harboring or keeping a dog and they shall be primarily liable.
A “dangerous dog” is:
• A dog that, without provocation, inflicts substantial bodily harm on a human. Substantial bodily harm is bodily injury that involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or that causes a temporary but substantial impairment of the function of a bodily organ, or that causes a fracture of any bodily member.
• A dog that kills a domestic animal, without provocation, while off the owner’s property; or
• A dog that has been found to be “potentially dangerous,” and thereafter aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals.
“Potentially Dangerous Dog”
A “potentially dangerous dog” is:
• A dog that, when unprovoked, bites a human or domestic animal;
• A dog that, when unprovoked, chases or approaches a person in any place, other than the dog owner’s property, in an apparent attitude of attack; or
• A dog that has a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack when unprovoked, and causes or otherwise threatens the safety of humans or domestic animals.
Legal Responsibilities of Owners of Potentially Dangerous Dogs
Under Minnesota law, a potentially dangerous dog must have a microchip. Additionally, individual counties or cities can regulate the legal responsibilities of potentially dangerous dogs owners.
Legal responsibilities of owners with dangerous dogs:
Dangerous dog owners must register their dogs with local authorities and pay an annual registration fee of up to $500.
Dangerous dogs must be identified with a microchip device and wear a tag with a dangerous dog symbol on their collars.
Owners must keep dangerous dogs securely confined indoors, or, if outdoors, in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure suitable to prevent the dog from escaping. When the dog is outside the enclosure, it must be muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under the reasonable control of a responsible person.
Owners of dangerous dogs must post their property with a clearly-visible warning sign that includes a symbol to inform children that the dog is on the property. The warning symbol is a uniform one, specified by Minnesota’s Commissioner of Public Safety.
Dangerous dog owners must post a surety bond of at least $300,000 payable to any person injured, or they must maintain a liability policy of at least $300,000, insuring the owner for personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog.
If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods:
218-547-1424 | 1-800-450-2677
By Mail/In Person
Cass County Sheriff’s Office
303 Minnesota Ave. W.
P.O. Box 1119
Walker, MN 56484