Has the entire county of Faribault gone to the dogs?
If someone has been attending the various City Council meetings around the county, one could certainly get that impression. It has become a pretty hot topic at several local meetings.
For instance, if you check out the story on page 3 of this week's Faribault County Register, the city of Wells is creating a new ordinance dealing with dogs and what their owners need to do in order to be a responsible pet owner.
Right above that story is one reporting on the Elmore City Council meeting. At the end of that story, the council debates an issue dealing with, you guessed it, dogs.
And if you still have last week's Register lying around the house, there was a story on page 3 dealing with the Blue Earth City Council and its ongoing debate over dogs and the city's animal pound.
It is a problem.
And, the issue of dogs running around and doing you-know-what in their neighbor's yard has been a hot topic at council meetings for years, in hundreds of Minnesota small towns.
I remember years ago a council person in another town who always remained quiet at every meeting.
Then one day the subject of dogs running loose in the city came up and she became very vocal which was quite shocking. She finally had an opinion and she vocalized it.
I commented to her about her sudden "awakening."
Her response was, "I don't really understand million dollar street and sewer projects, but dogs pooping in my yard, now that is something I know about."
So do many other people, it seems. And many of them are also very willing to speak up about it, especially during the public expression portion of City Council meetings.
In Wells, the city is formulating a new ordinance which spells out what a dog or other pet owner must do, or not do. Of course, the basics are to keep your pet under control and clean up after it.
In Elmore, they already have just such an ordinance, but citizens gathered in force at the council meeting asking that it be enforced more strictly.
It seems there is a problem with loose dogs running around, and the previous Saturday a man was bitten by one. He awaits the results of a rabies test.
Elmore residents wanted to ban pit bulls from the city, but were told it was against state law to single out one breed of dog. There also is a definition of a dangerous animal, and it isn't just because a dog barks and snarls at passersby.
They were also told that law enforcement can only do so much without an actual incident occurring. They can't just walk in and take someone's pet away.
So, unfortunately, an incident such as a dog attacking a person has to happen first in many cases.
That wasn't what the Elmore citizens wanted to hear.
In Blue Earth, the major issue is what happens when an animal is picked up. The debate is over who will run the city pound either the city itself or the Faribault County Humane Society.
Personally, I think the society could stay in charge, but needs to operate under guidance and rules set by the city.
Then there is the problem with the pound itself. It is too small and not adequate in many ways. At the last meeting, the pound, which was built for six animals, had 14 being kept there at that moment.
If a city is going to be in the animal control business, it needs to have an adequate facility to do so.
That is true for Blue Earth, Elmore, Wells and everywhere else.
Or, there needs to be an adequately sized county-wide pound that can service all the animals from every town.
To be perfectly honest and give full disclosure, I don't own dogs and never have. I like them just fine, but I don't want to take care of one.
Also to be honest, I live on Main Street and I also do a lot of walking around town. I rarely, if ever, see a loose dog run by.
I do see a lot of pet owners walking their dogs and they all seem to have their animal under control, and appear to be cleaning up after the dog when it does its business.
And that is the straight poop.
So, while there is certainly an issue with dogs in small towns, what will solve the problem is people taking care of their pets.
While most folks do just that, it unfortunately only takes a few who do not to spoil it for everyone else.