Should the government be able to take away your dog to protect your neighbors, even if it hasn’t injured anyone yet?

A Fridley family contacted Whistleblower because they are outraged that their neighbor received seven citations concerning his pit bulls, but the dogs weren’t removed until last week — after they killed the family’s puppy.

Since last summer, Marilyn Lambert and her daughter Kim Lambert worried that the two pit bulls next door could be dangerous. Fridley police issued seven citations since last August to the dogs’ owner, Miles Ware Jr., and had declared one of the dogs potentially dangerous after it charged and nipped at an animal control officer in October.

Then last week, the dogs jumped over a chain link fence and killed Sophie, he Lamberts’ 6-month-old West Highland terrier. One of the pit bulls was shot and killed after it charged at a Fridley police officer.

The Lamberts think the current laws concerning dangerous dogs didn’t do enough to protect them. They said the police responded every time the dogs would jump the fence or act aggressively, but state law doesn’t allow a dog to be declared dangerous until it inflicts substantial bodily harm on a person without being provoked.

“The police said they couldn’t do anything until somebody gets hurt,” Kim Lambert said. “Their hands are tied.”

Fridley police Lt. Mike Monsrud said the citations were for excessive barking and not having the dogs tied up or licensed.

“It’s sad that we have to wait until something like this happens and now her pet is dead,” Monsrud said. “With his number of citations, he knew that there was potential for this to happen. Apparently, he didn’t get the message.”

Last Monday, Marilyn Lambert checked to make sure the pit bulls weren’t loose in her neighbor’s backyard before she let Sophie out.

“She started running down the yard and all of a sudden I saw that white dog,” Marilyn said. “I ran out in the yard to stop her, but the snow was so deep I fell. I couldn’t get to her. I’m sure she was killed instantly.”

When the officers arrived, one of the pit bulls charged at them and tried to jump over the fence again, Monsrud said. The officers shot twice and killed the dog. Ware was not home at the time. When he returned, officers quarantined the other dog.

Monsrud said that dog has now been declared dangerous. In order to keep the dog, Ware will have to abide by state statute which requires the owner of a dangerous dog to keep the animal in a proper enclosure, implant a microchip in the dog, maintain a license and secure a bond for at least $300,000.

Ware said he hasn’t decided if he can meet the requirements and keep his dog. He said he normally kept the dogs tied up, but he wasn’t home last Monday and somebody else let the dogs out.

“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” he said.

Do you think dogs should be confiscated from their owners if there is a history of bad behavior? Should state animal laws be more strict?

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