Dogs dominate BE City Council meeting
Dogs and cats were once again a main topic at the Blue Earth City Council meeting last Monday night.
Only this time, members of the Faribault County Humane Society were at the council work session before the regular meeting to discuss their need for a new animal shelter building.
“We really want a larger and better facility,” said humane society member Debbie Johnson. “We are bursting at the seams most of the time.”
Johnson said they almost always have a large number of cats and several dogs at any given time. They would like to have two separate areas in the shelter, one for dogs and one for cats, but right now it is just too small.
She reported that the humane society has many dedicated volunteers who not only faithfully tend to the animals, but also are involved in fundraising.
Some of those fundraising events in 2018 included donation boxes at businesses, social media campaigns, co-hosting a mother/son dance in Frost, an event at the Cedar Inn and one with the Blue Earth Chamber at Crazy Dog Daze, Give to the Max Day and a Holiday Bake Sale that raised $1,700.
“We have raised $22,000 towards a new facility,” Johnson said. “We would prefer finding an unused building that would suit our needs as opposed to building a new structure.”
The council discussed the matter and said they were unaware of any empty building in Blue Earth, either city owned or privately owned, which would be suitable for an animal shelter.
Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested Blue Earth take the lead in investigating finding or building a new shelter with the other towns and the county itself, which are all involved in the administration of the animal shelter.
“We would need for each entity to pay its fair share for a new facility,” Scholtes said. “It could be based on usage.”
Using that formula, Scholtes said he figured the city of Blue Earth would cover about 25 percent of the cost, the county 15 percent and the remaining amount would be split among the other towns in the western portion of the county which use the facility.
City administrator Tim Ibisch said he would contact the other entities involved in the Joint Powers Agreement which operates the shelter and set up a meeting to discuss the matter further.
“We normally meet three times per year,” Ibisch said in response to a council question. “The mayor, police chief and myself represent Blue Earth on the board.”
Another dog issue which came up at the meeting involved a public hearing concerning designating an animal as a potentially dangerous dog.
The dog owner, Daniel Dennis Range, testified about the incident where the dog bit a person, Glenn Gaylord, at Steinberg Park. He argued the dog was only loose for a brief time and he did not see bite marks on the Gaylord’s hand afterwards.
“I asked Glenn if he wanted me to take him to the hospital and he said no,” Range said. “I am not sure there was a real bite. I am not happy with this whole (potentially dangerous dog designation) situation.”
Range questioned the amount of fines and other costs he has had to incur because of the incident. He owes $225 to the city for licenses, signage and fines, as well as $287 for the veterinarian fees covering shots and a chip inserted into the dog.
“That is a lot of money for me,” Range said and asked for the council to consider lowering the fees and not having his dog labeled as dangerous.
However, the council decided to keep the dangerous dog designation in place for one year, and not lower any fees or fines. However, they did offer Range setting up a payment plan.
Mayor Scholtes explained that if Range follows all the rules with his dog for one year, and the dog has no more incidents, the potentially dangerous dog label would go away.
Range said he was happy to hear that, and promised he would keep the dog out of trouble.
The council also looked at another case of two dogs that chased a third dog which was bitten on the back of the neck. They once again voted to designate both dogs as potentially dangerous dogs for a one year period of time.
Members of the council said they wanted to send a message to the public that the city of Blue Earth is not ‘messing around’ with complaints about dogs. People need to be responsible for their dogs and not let them run loose, keep up with their city licenses and shots, and keep them under control.
In other business, the council:
Looked at a redraft of the Three Sisters sale to Rural Renaissance Project, but did not take any action.
Heard an update on an investigation of a complaint against a Blue Earth police officer, but city attorney David Frundt said the investigation is not complete and will not be for a couple of weeks.
Heard an update on the pool slide project. The council instructed staff to investigate the low bid further to make sure it is correct. That bid was $26,000 less than the other two bids received.
Discussed the proposed Veterans Memorial. Currently the site would be in Giant Park. Councilman Glenn Gaylord suggested it may not be the best location, and suggested other sites such as in Steinberg Park, Eastside Park, or the former go-kart area at the Faribault County Fairgrounds.