Mayor to propose shelter plan for Roc

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mayor Tom Stiehm will bring a plan to the City Council to move Roc to a retraining program. Herald file photo

Mayor Tom Stiehm will bring a plan to the City Council to move Roc to a retraining program. Herald file photo

Stiehm to seek council’s blessing on releasing pit bull to retraining program

Austin’s mayor may have a solution for Roc, the pit bull recently declared dangerous by the Austin City Council.

Mayor Tom Stiehm said Monday he plans to propose a Central Minnesota shelter examine the 4-year-old pit bull and see whether it can be rehabilitated.

“They are willing to come and evaluate the dog, and if it seems nonviolent, they would remove the dog,” Stiehm said.

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The Austin City Council declared Roc a dangerous dog on July 21 and finalized its findings to euthanize him on Aug. 3.

Roc has allegedly attacked or threatened residents in northwest Austin several times since 2013. He reportedly jumped on a man walking near the 600 block of Sixth Avenue on July 1 and tried to bite him, according to police reports. The man only suffered a slight scratch on his face, however.

Roc’s former owner has appealed the Austin City Council’s decision to euthanize the dog with the help of an animal rights advocate from New York.

Attorney Lisa Dailey, representing Sofia Smith, requested a temporary restraining order Friday from Mower County District Judge Kevin Siefken to prevent Roc from being euthanized.

Smith, Dailey and Kate Riviello, president of No Kill New York, argue Roc may have been illegally seized from Smith last month after he allegedly attacked a man in northwest Austin. In addition, Roc’s team believes the Austin City Council may have violated state statute during the proceedings to declare Roc a dangerous dog last month.

The issue revolves on whether Roc could bite someone in the future, given his tendency to run after people.

Smith and others contend the 4-year-old dog is simply playful and doesn’t know he’s not a puppy anymore.

Yet Stiehm is concerned the dog could still have dangerous tendencies. He hopes Roc can be rehabilitated and has previously said euthanizing a dangerous dog is a tough decision for the council, but he reiterated his commitment to public safety on Monday.

“My primary concern is for the safety of the city of Austin and the people here,” he said.

A planned protest for Tuesday was called off, according to Roc’s Facebook page, “Save Roc from the City of Austin Minnesota.” The protest was scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. today in front of Austin’s city hall, but protestors appeared to have backed off from their plan after Stiehm decided to propose the shelter idea.

Stiehm will present his proposal to the city council at its next meeting on Aug. 17.