Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 14, 1999

'Dogs and ferrets and snakes, Oh, my' ­ LP council considers animal ordinance

By Luis Puga

The Lester Prairie City Council discussed last Monday what sort of animal ordinance the city should have, if any.

Currently, the only animals the city prohibits are pigs, and it has a two adult dog minimum per household.

However, concern brought up the issue of an ordinance for animals before the issue becomes a problem.

The city began by comparing animal ordinances from other cities. The two that were favored were those of Cosmos and Hopkins. They dealt with farm, exotic, and wild animals, as well as special use permits for housing animals.

However, members of the public were concerned that if the city could not enforce its current ordinances, why should it create a new one.

In particular, the concern was that the dog ordinance was not being enforced, and people present felt that only certain citizens were abiding the laws of the city while others did what they pleased.

Mayor Eric Angvall responded to this claim by stating that despite laws against running stop signs and committing murder, people still break those laws.

He said that it is the hope that most people will abide by the laws and the city is only in a position to do the best it can.

Much of the discussion centered around dogs. While the city has a problem with loose dogs, there is seemingly little that can be done about it.

Most of the council felt that the problem is not exclusive to Lester Prairie, but all cities of all sizes. Add to the issue that the city cannot afford a full-time dog catcher and that many of the dogs may come from outside the city limits, and the problem is an even more insurmountable.

Another concern is what would happen to animals that would be restricted by the ordinance, but are already present.

The council noted that those animals could be grandfathered in as exampled by other city's ordinances, or a period of time could be given to remove the animal.

Dog licenses were discussed. Council member Larry Hoof added that licenses only assure that the dogs have been vaccinated.

However, members of the public maintain that incidents have occurred where a person is bit, but that person never finds out if the dog had rabies or not. Another member of the public felt that it was unusual for the city not to have licenses.

Other issues included the mess that dogs make and whether it gets cleaned up. One citizen described how a "chorus of dogs" continues to bark in the early morning hours. Still another problem is people who abandon dogs in the city.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk reminded the council that the ordinance was not just about dogs, noting that people also abandon animals such as large snakes and ferrets in town as well.

Again, discussion took place over enforcing the ordinance, and Council Member Roland Bruckschen added that the best way would be to levy fines, since the pocketbook is a universal motivator.

Eventually, Council Member Ron Foust suggested forming a committee to deal with creating an animal ordinance, the details of which will take time to hammer out.

Barry Bondhus volunteered to join, and both Bruckschen and Foust will work on the project. However, both council members noted that they would not be able to address the issue until the summer passes, as their schedules do not permit it. The hope is that the ordinance will be approved by the end of the year, with a first draft done by early September.

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