Unleashed law-breakers

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2001

Pets can be comforting and cuddly, but if they are not controlled they can also be a nuisance.

Friday, March 30, 2001

Pets can be comforting and cuddly, but if they are not controlled they can also be a nuisance.

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The dog that breaks into the neighbor’s garbage every week, or leaves waste in public places or other people’s property is not only a big pain for other residents, he is also in violation of the law. And when dogs break the law, owners are responsible.

Albert Lea city dog and cat ordinances are based on common-sense cares and courtesies, said animal control officer Shelley Pederson. Most pet owners in Albert Lea obey the ordinances and act responsibly about pet ownership, but others don’t seem to care.

&uot;It’s the few that ruin it for the many,&uot; she said.

The most common violation of the animal ordinance is for having a dog at large, Pederson said. A loose dog is always the responsibility of the owner under Albert Lea code, no matter if the dog slipped it’s chain, or even if the owner is unaware the dog is gone. In addition, any dog in a public place has to be restrained and under the supervision of an adult.

Sanitation is another frequently broken ordinance violation, that is especially evident in the spring when winter snows start to melt, Pederson said.

Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up dog droppings in public places, other people’s property and in their own yard, according to the ordinance. Whenever the animal defecates any place other than the owner’s property, they need to clean the waste up immediately and dispose of it, Pederson said.

&uot;It’s the protection of the people that don’t have dogs,&uot; she said. &uot;No one wants to live next door to a stinky dog, and the people who walk the lake, don’t want to be walking around the (waste).&uot;

The city has placed garbage cans around the lake to deposit the waste, but some dog owners don’t seem to care. It is a nuisance for people using public places when others don’t clean up after their animals, she said.

In the spring especially, animal control officer patrol public places looking for violations, she said. She has also asked residents to let violators know they are in violation of the ordinance.

&uot;We have asked the public to do some self-patrolling,&uot; she said. &uot;To make them aware they don’t appreciate it.&uot;

Almost all animal ordinance violations are petty misdemeanors, and subject to a fine up to $300, Pederson said. But animal cruelty charges can be a gross misdemeanor and a conviction could even result in the loss of a pet and more serious penalties.

Freeborn county gets about 25 cruelty calls per year, Pederson said. Of those, only a handful will have their pets taken away, but that’s still too many, she said.