Would you believe there are fewer than 100 dogs in the city?
According to the state demographer's office, there are more than 6,000 households in Brainerd. That means that less than 2 percent of Brainerd households claim a Fido or a Spot.
Or are most Brainerd dogs unlicensed in the city?
"Frankly, I don't know if licensing has worked very well," said city administrator Dan Vogt. Currently, 93 dogs are licensed in the city.
The city is trying a new approach and a new ordinance.
Effective July 21, the Brainerd City Council revised the city's animal control ordinance, which included changes in animal licensing, leash requirements and household animal limitations.
Brainerd animal control officer Don Hannahs played with his dog, Timber, on Monday at his Brainerd home. Under the revisions of Brainerd's animal ordinance, dogs more than 4 months old must be licensed. And yes, Timber is licensed. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
The ordinance had not been revised since the mid-1990s, prompting review by council member Bonnie Cumberland. "I had a number of calls and comments from people about animals running at large," Cumberland said. "People would be on a walk in city parks where owners weren't in control of the animal. I thought it was time to sit down and improve some things."
Under the ordinance, dogs more than 4 months old need to be licensed and registered with the city yearly. Before, dogs needed to be licensed at 6 months.
Even so, many dogs in the area are still not licensed. Animal control officer Don Hannahs said that the purpose for licensing is to aid in returning stray pets to their owners. Owners may still be charged for their stray.
Licensing also helps fund animal control and humane societies.
When Hannahs began as the area's animal control officer in 1992, 1 percent of dogs he picked up were licensed. "Licensing is not anywhere where it needs to be," he said.
It costs $15 to license non-spayed and non-neutered dogs and $10 for spayed and neutered. If unlicensed dogs are picked up, a citation can be issued and $25 will be charged before owners can reclaim their dogs from the Heartland Animal Rescue Team.
"Those people who love their pets and who have safe and healthy pets and want a safe and healthy community will follow the ordinance," Cumberland said.
Also included in the changed ordinance is that cats no longer need to be licensed. During the cat license requirement that began in the 1990s, 15 cats were licensed. "It was ineffective," Vogt said, referring to the many stray cats and house cats. "Other communities did not have it in their ordinance," Cumberland said. "And we said, 'Let's focus on some other things like control of the animal.'"
There is now a limitation in the city of four dogs, four cats or a combination thereof per household. Owners with more than four cats or dogs before the revision may keep those animals, provided the dogs were properly licensed. "There are quite a few hoarders in the state," Hannahs said. Because of the many animals in one place, these "collectors" constantly add to pet populations, especially with cats.
Also, dogs and cats must be on a leash six feet long or shorter and be accompanied by a responsible person. Hannahs said that this change was made to quell problems in public places because of long lead leashes.
AMY FREDMAN may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5866.
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