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In aftermath of dog attack, discussion on city dog policies brought before Hazen commissioners

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 7:21 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Parents want to keep their kids and pets safe as they walk down the street or play in the park. But when situations like dog bites occur, solutions can often hound the victim, pet owner and community.

Last month a child was attacked by a loose dog in a city park in Hazen.

“A loose dog came over and attacked my six-year-old daughter twice within a few minutes. The police response was pretty prompt, but in the aftermath, it became apparent that some of these laws were outdated,” said Hazen resident Pete Grossman.

The child is ok, but the incident drove some residents to wonder if more could be done to prevent something like that from happening again.

Residents have asked city officials to take another look at existing ordinances. They said the language is “murky” and the fines are too low.

Law enforcement officers are tasked with responding to reports of dog bites. Cases then can go before a judge who would determine the retribution in accordance with the law.

“There’s a protocol and a process with dogs and complaints, or if there’s a cop involved, and it has to go to court. We’ve been trying to follow [the ordinance] as well as we can,” said Hazen mayor Jerry Obenauer.

The last time the ordinance on animals was amended was 2002, according to dates on the document.

“We’ve dealt with a couple of situations in the past and it’s been dealt with properly by law enforcement and our municipal judge. When there’s been a judgement that comes down, the dog owner or the citizen has always abided by it, it seems like,” said mayor Obenauer.

As the laws stand now, you could be fined $100 if your dog attacks someone.

“If fines don’t sting a little, they’re not going to be a proper incentive. The city commissioners said, ‘well there’s no guarantee that raising the fines is going to fix this.’ I said, we’re not expecting it to be perfect. We just want it to be a little better and keep our kids a little safer. Hopefully raising those fines would raise awareness to the dog owners that they need to be responsible, and they will be held accountable,” said Grossman.

Residents say the issue is not about any particular dog breed. They say they want to encourage responsible pet owners.

City commissioners said it’s important for residents to license their dogs.

The issue will be discussed at the next city commission meeting on Monday, May 16.

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