City column: Police ask residents to be responsible with their dogs
Despite a storm that tried to crash the parties, hundreds of Rosemount residents at 29 block parties came together for this year's observance of Night to Unite. As the police department, along with several other city departments, and I traveled throughout the city to the neighborhood gatherings, we spread the word that we need your help to ensure personal safety. Now an issue has come up in which the police department needs citizens' help to keep all of us safe.
In the last two weeks, our officers have taken reports on three dog-biting incidents in Rosemount. Two of them were the result of dogs that were unleashed, or "unrestrained" in the wording of the law, and attacked a person on public property or another animal on private property. In the other case, a pet owner failed to control a dog on private property. None of the incidents led to serious injury, but they easily could have.
Clearly, dogs can be safely owned and cared for. Nationally, 53 million dogs share a bond with humans. But 4.5 million people are bitten each year, and about one in five needs medical attention for the wound, half of them children under 12. On an average day, just over one thousand people have to go to the emergency room or other medical setting because of dog bites.
Like most cities, Rosemount has an ordinance for control of dogs. That doesn't mean we oppose them. It is actually quite the opposite. The police department understands pet ownership is an important part of our community life. Pets provide companionship or are even considered members of the family. Especially important are those used as service dogs to help their owners overcome many challenges. In law enforcement, animals are a part of our family as we benefit from K-9 units.
Rosemount's ordinance requires that a dog be under restraint at all times. On public property like a sidewalk or park, the animal must be on a leash no longer than six feet, even if it's retractable. On private property or inside a vehicle, the dog must be able to respond to the voice or signal of a competent person who is present.
To ensure ownership of healthy dogs and lower the risk of attack by a rabid dog, Rosemount requires licensing. It costs $12 a year, along with proof of vaccination. Citizens get a 50 percent discount if the dog is spayed or neutered, and an additional 50 percent off if you're age 55 or older. Licenses can be obtained in person at the Rosemount Police Department between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
There's another aspect to responsible dog ownership: the need to clean up after pets. City ordinances say owners must remove waste immediately from public property like parks, and at least weekly on private land. Failing to clean up is a nuisance to people who share the trails, and it carries a health risk.
The police department enforces reasonable regulations to help protect our citizens and pet owners alike. Please call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience any problems with dogs and an officer will respond. On the city website, we've posted tips about preventing dog bites and the spread of rabies at www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/dogs.
Through your help our citizens can enjoy their pets, which contribute to our quality of life in Rosemount. Your assistance in working with the Police Department is greatly appreciated.