Responding to recent criticism that the Crosby Police Department had in some way failed to prevent the June 23 mauling of David Deziel by three dogs, Chief Kim Coughlin is quick to note that Deziel's attack happened outside of her jurisdiction.
The attack on Deziel happened within the jurisdiction of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department, though Coughlin's officers have assisted the sheriff's department at the location on several occasions.
"I want to make it clear I'm not trying to pass the buck, I'm not trying to say this was the county's fault," Coughlin said Thursday. "A mistake was made, it was not in our jurisdiction and was not our problem.
"I have met Dave Deziel and my heart goes out to him. This is a terrible tragedy that we don't want repeated and we will do all we can to keep this from happening again."
Deziel, 60, was walking June 23 on Lake Road in Irondale Township when three pit bull terriers attacked him, causing massive injuries from his ankles to his head.
The owner of the dogs, Randy Caouette, 52, Ironton, was charged with felony first-degree assault, felony second-degree assault, felony second-degree attempted manslaughter and gross misdemeanor harm caused by a dog. He is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 19.
Deziel was transported to Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby and later transferred to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he spent 16 days before he was released to continue his recovery at home.
There have been several incidents where law enforcement was alerted to dog complaints at the Caouette residence. However, what law enforcement can do with the dogs is controlled by Minnesota statutes, said Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan.
"Until a dog is classified as dangerous we can't take the animal," Ryan said. "Just because a dog barks at someone, or snarls at someone or even if it bites someone, law enforcement doesn't automatically have the right to confiscate that animal."
A dangerous dog is defined in the statute as one that has, without provocation, inflicted substantial bodily harm on a person or has been found to be potentially dangerous after aggressively biting, attacking or endangering people's safety.
Animal control or peace officers can confiscate a dangerous dog only after it has been shown that dangerous dog hasn't been registered, liability insurance hasn't been obtained and the dog is not maintained in a proper enclosure.
Ryan noted Crow Wing County's animal control ordinance deals mainly with dogs running at large.
In Crosby, Coughlin said her department is being aggressive in enforcing dangerous dog violations. In addition to sending out several potentially dangerous dog notices, the city of Crosby along with Deerwood, Cuyuna, Riverton, Ironton and Deerwood Township are working to build a kennel to house such animals. She said people can help by calling law enforcement to report possible dangerous animals.
The criticism of the Crosby law enforcement appeared in a guest column Wednesday in the Brainerd Dispatch.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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