Heartland Animal Rescue Team director John Tschida walked Monday past the impounded animals at the Baxter facility. Crow Wing County met with township officials Monday night regarding enforcement of the county's dog ordinance. The county is asking townships to help fund enforcement costs.
Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
Township officers had one word for Crow Wing County in regard to paying the bill to pick up stray dogs - accountability.
County officials met with township supervisors Monday night in Brainerd. Township supervisors wanted to know more than how many dog complaint calls the county received. They wanted to know how many dogs were picked up by the dog catcher. And, most of all, they wanted to know if they were getting service for their money.
Not everyone agreed more information would make the idea of paying any more palatable. Others suggested a bullet was cheaper. Part of the equation is the fact that rural counties are becoming more populated and more urban.
Peter Herlofsky Jr., county administrator, pointed to the example of a violent attack this past summer. Three dogs attacked and severely mauled David Deziel, 60, while he was on a morning walk June 23 on Lake Road in Irondale Township.
"The more dogs that are picked up, the less chance of that occurring as a result," Herlofsky said.
Heartland Animal Rescue Team director John Tschida (left) and Gretchen Patrick, a certified veterinary technician from Lakeland Veterinary Hospital, drew blood Monday from Onyx, a black lab, at HART. Crow Wing County uses HART to impound stray dogs as its dog ordinance is enforced. The county is continuing talks with township officials to determine which townships will help pay for enforcement costs and considering enforcement solely in townships willing to help with the bill. HART reported few strays are claimed.Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
At issue is whether townships wanted a dog ordinance or not. Dangerous dogs are handled by the sheriff's department. Nuisance complaints are covered by the dog ordinance. Herlofsky said he did not have dependable numbers that matched complaint calls to pickups of stray dogs.
"We just want better accounting," said Greg Ranweiler, Center Township supervisor.
The dog ordinance and its enforcement has been an ongoing issue for more than a year. Last summer, Crow Wing County commissioners agreed to bill townships to offset canine costs incurred to enforce the county's dog ordinance. The county pays about $3,200 per month to Heartland Animal Rescue Team and about $1,800 per month to animal control officer Don Hannahs for 24-hour service seven days a week. The impound costs and euthanizing of stray dogs is an additional cost paid to HART.
Using the 2000 census, the county decided to charge an annual fee of $2.50 per township resident.
With some townships involved and others not yet taking part, the commissioners are expected to see if a revision is needed to limit the ordinance to the townships willing to help pay the bill. Calls for enforcement from townships not paying for the service are being referred to township supervisors or someone they designated.
Herlofsky plans to mail more detailed information on dog service to townships. Bay Lake, Center, Crow Wing, Rabbitt Lake and Garrison townships have already indicated they will participate in the dog ordinance in 2006. The cities of Crosby and Ironton are working with the county to take part. Herlofsky said he would call the work so far on the dog ordinance a qualified success.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.