County increases dangerous dog fee by $100

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It will cost more to own a dangerous dog in Mower County in 2016.

The Mower County board voted 4-1 Tuesday to increase the county’s annual dangerous dog permit fee from $150 to $250 after Commissioner Tony Bennett called for a motion to increase the fee.

“I just think it should be less affordable to own those types of dogs,” Bennett said.

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Commissioner Jerry Reinartz voted against the motion, arguing he wanted to hear more information like the number of dangerous dogs in the county, but the numbers were not readily available during the meeting.

Reinartz told a story of when he was working as an appraiser with his business partner. During an appraisal, the partner reached out to pet a dog who was barking at them in defense of his property, and the dog bit him. In that instance, the person instigated the incident, which was one reason Reinartz wanted to learn more.

However, County Attorney Kristen Nelsen noted dogs are not deemed dangerous if they’re provoked.

Bennett, who is a dog owner, said he doesn’t like people who take pride in ownership of dangerous dogs.

“If we can make it more expensive to own those kind of animals, maybe we would have less incidents,” Bennett said. “I’m definitely a dog lover, but there’s certain animals that cause an amount of damage.”

Mower County Chief Deputy Mark May said a dog is deemed dangerous if it leaves its property and bites someone, though the details of the situation are taken into account. If a dog acts aggressively toward people by chasing someone, growling or jumping at someone, it could be labelled potentially dangerous.

Once a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner can euthanize the dog, which May said often happens because of the additional insurance costs and other fees incurred for having a dangerous dog.

The fee is countywide, including the city of Austin, according to the Mower County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office, though the Austin City Council will get involved in the process when there is an appeal.

In 2015, one new dog was deemed dangerous and 13 dogs were deemed potentially dangerous.