Minneapolis would like to make it easier to put restrictions on aggressive dogs.
After a vicious dog attack on a mail carrier in July, Minneapolis once again is tightening its laws governing aggressive dogs.
A key change is intended to make it easier to restrict dogs that charge but don't bite postal workers and others who are legally on the property.
The charge would have to provoke a defensive action, such as jumping a fence or using a mailbag as a shield. That would trigger designation of the dog as potentially dangerous, requiring high registration fees, use of a muzzle and a 3-foot leash when outside and a long list of other restrictions.
That was in a package of proposals sent to the City Council for an Oct. 8 vote following unanimous approval Wednesday by the Public Safety and Health Committee.
"It's a step in the right direction," said mail carrier Bryan Bloomquist, the victim of the July attack. "I'm glad they're taking defensive action."
Officials have proposed such packages almost annually at City Hall since 2006, after high-profile attacks or when enforcement reveals loopholes. Annually, they get about 400 bite reports, leading to at least 150 declarations that the dog was dangerous or potentially so; dogs are excused if the attack was provoked.
The attack on Bloomquist sent him to the hospital on July 27 with 41 wounds from two pit bulls that charged out of a house on the 3300 block of Colfax Avenue N. He returned to postal work two weeks ago but is driving a motorized route in Brooklyn Park, where he usually doesn't enter yards.
Postal workers have reported 29 bites in nearly a year within a postal area that includes Minneapolis and some of its first-ring suburbs, according to local postal spokesman Peter Nowacki.
Among the other proposed changes: Home day cares couldn't keep a dog that's declared dangerous or potentially so if it has displayed aggression toward people; owners of such dogs would need to notify the city within 10 days if the dog runs off; owners of declared dogs would need to produce their muzzle and short leash during compliance checks by animal control officers; dogs that kill another domestic animal could be destroyed.
Committee Chairman Don Samuels wondered out loud if enough is being done to protect letter carriers. He said he's seen fear in the petite letter carrier who serves his block, which he said has 14 pit bulls. He and animal control manager Dan Niziolek urged the public to report dog bites, saying the restrictions that may be triggered could forestall other attacks.
Prosecutors are seeking misdemeanor convictions against the owners whose dogs attacked Bloomquist, using a state law aimed at people who permit a dog to cause "great or substantial bodily harm." Under the proposal, anyone convicted of that charge would be barred from owning a dog for five years. So could people who have multiple dogs declared or destroyed within two years.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438