Four dog biting incidents in just a few weeks in Rosemount have led the city and police department to step up their prevention education.
“This many this close together is unusual,” said Rosemount Police Chief Eric Werner.
None of the victims was seriously injured. “The point here is that dogs are an important part of our life. They’re our family members. They’re our companions. … However, there are safety risks in owning animals,” Werner said.
“There’s a safe way to own them and reduce the risk — reduce the harm — that there could be to humans.”
The incidents involved dogs biting a 4-year-old child, a mail carrier, another dog and, most recently, a Rosemount community service officer.
In the case of the child, the dog left private property, running into the street before biting the child. In the most recent case, the officer was bitten during a call about a dog at large; after she bent over to lure the dog with treats, the dog bit her hand as she reached to pick him up. The dog ran off and was never found, leaving the officer to take a series of rabies shots.
All dog owners were cited, and Werner could not provide more details because of pending court cases.
City ordinances call for dogs on private property to respond to hand or verbal commands of the responsible person. Those on public property are required to be leashed on a line no longer than six feet. Dogs also must be licensed and have up-to-date rabies shots.
“Most dogs are well-behaved and under control, but it only takes a few incidents to really be a problem for somebody,” Rosemount City Administrator Dwight Johnson said. “People almost always assume that their own dog is not going to be a problem, but something can happen even to normally very well-behaved dogs.”
City and police department leaders have stepped up efforts to educate the community about responsible dog ownership, the law, and dog bite prevention information. They have posted educational material on the city’s website — www.ci.rosemount.mn.us — and reached out to local groups to spread the message.
“I think some people really just don’t know about the ordinance or think about it,” Johnson said. “And I think we’re a growing community, we have a lot of residents moving in, and so there may be some who aren’t as well-acquainted [with the ordinance].”
Werner said that so far, the efforts have been effective.
A resident recently called police about a dog running loose, and police were able to educate the dog owner.
People have a tendency to leave their dogs out in the summer — that may have led to the flurry of incidents, Johnson said. But it still gets back to responsible dog ownership, Werner said.
“No matter what time of year it is, if you adhere to the practices that reduce risks, then I don’t think we’d have the number of incidents that we’re currently having.”
Police need the community’s help in spreading the information and education in their neighborhoods, Werner said.
“We’re proactive, we want to educate. Our goal is to have compliance through education or cooperation,” Werner said, “and not have to do it through enforcement.”