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City Discusses Dog Bite Incident

By Staff | Apr 28, 2011

A dog bite incident was discussed by members of Emmetsburg City Council at their Monday, April 25, meeting. Owner of the dog, Bill Hawks, and Elizabeth Alderson, who was bitten, attended the meeting.

Ms. Alderson told the council that she was walking in the 900 block of Des Moines Street when three dogs left the property, came running at her out on the street, and one of the dogs bit her in the leg. She got medical attention for the bite wounds.

“I publicly apologize to Ms. Alderson,” said Hawks. “The dogs were out briefly. The only thing I can think that provoked it, while my wife’s mother was in the hospital the dogs were home alone and they get very nervous. It is not a vicious dog and I have never seen this dog act aggressively.”

After the incident, Emmetsburg Police Chief Eric Hanson notified the Hawks family of Emmetsburg City Code pertaining to “vicious animals.” In his notice to the Hawks, Chief Hanson said that the dog’s immunization expired in June 2010. The dog was to be confined for two weeks and under observation of a veterinarian.

Acting according to City Code, the police chief ordered the dog be removed form the City of Emmetsburg within three days after the quarantine had expired.

The Hawks were given the opportunity to appeal the order and appeared before the City Council last Monday.

The Chihuahua dogs at the Hawks residence are indoors most of the time, Bill Hawks explained. He also stated they have a kennel beside the house where they can put the dogs.

City Attorney Brian Thul said the dogs were on public property and were running at large. According to the City Code, the dog in question would have to be removed from the city limits. The only exceptions would be if the animal is under the control of a law enforcement or military agency, or if the dog is deemed a guard dog.

Chief Hanson explained that the ordinance was enacted after a dog attack when a child was bitten.

Mayor Schad asked if the council wished to consider a guard dog option.

“If the dog remains in Emmetsburg, it would have to be in some type of kennel or fenced in enclosure,” explained Hanson. The dog could not be on a leash and go directly from the house to the kennel.

“If you allow a dog (deemed vicious) to remaining the community, you need to change the ordinance,” said Bird.

Council representative Sandy Pelzer proposed leaving the order (to remove a vicious animal from the city) in place and revisit the ordinance, then bring the topic back to the council in 60 days.

Attorney Thul said the council could continue the appeal hearing for 60 days.

Pelzer made the motion to continue the hearing to the June 27 council meeting. In the mean time, the dog must be in a kennel or the home.