For the second time in slightly more than a year, Minneapolis is putting more teeth into its efforts to ward off dog bites.
A package of changes applying to owners of the roughly 134 dogs that have been declared dangerous or potentially dangerous won City Council approval 11-0 on Friday.
The changes require that dogs or other animals deemed dangerous be sterilized, to conform with state law, and adds to the list of circumstances in which some people may be prohibited from owning or keeping dogs of the same breed for up to five years.
For example, that restriction would apply to anyone who has owned an animal declared dangerous or one that has been destroyed and who violates the dangerous animal ordinance. It would also apply to owners of more than one animal declared dangerous or destroyed within two years. The city last year limited ownership of some dogs by people convicted of a violent felony.
Council Member Don Samuels said the changes were proposed by animal control staff to plug gaps in the major changes that the council enacted in early 2008. The city recorded 423 animal bites in 2008, but Samuels said that the 2008 changes helped to reduce the severity of those bites. "I think people are feeling better," he said.
Samuels represents part of the city's North Side, which last year accounted for 43 percent of serious bites or orders for dogs to be destroyed, according to animal control officials. That's more than twice the area's share of city population.
The changes also require the owner or keeper of a dog declared dangerous obtain city permission before transferring ownership or custody. People may be cited for providing false information to the city.
Animals that previously were declared potentially dangerous now may be upgraded to the more restrictive dangerous category if the owner violates the requirements of the law. The changes also make it possible for the city to more quickly destroy dogs declared dangerous that go unclaimed and aren't kept in compliance with city ordinances.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438