Decision on dangerous dog designation delayed; Owners appeal to Mower County Board to have move reversed

Published 8:26 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Vague circumstances surrounding an incident involving two dogs and whether one of them should be designated as a “dangerous dog” has delayed the Mower County Board’s decision until next week.

During Tuesday’s dangerous dog hearing, the county board had listened to the appeal by Bryton Bustad, 22, and Savannah Hernandez, 21, to rescind the “dangerous dog” notice that was put on their dog, Lola, after an incident occurred earlier this month involving their dogs Lola and (now deceased) Loki.

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Lola was identified as a dangerous dog under Minnesota statute because of circumstantial evidence that made it appear that the dog had killed a domestic animals without provocation while off the owner’s property.

If a dog is deemed dangerous then the following must occur:

•The owner must obtain insurance for the dog that could amount to at least $300,000.

•The owner pays an annual fee of not more than $500, in addition to any regular dog licensing fees, to obtain a certificate of registration for a dangerous dog.

•The owner has a microchip identification implanted in the dangerous dog.

•There must be proper enclosures for the dog with visible warning signs that there is a dangerous dog on the property, including a warning symbol to inform children.

It is possible that the Mower County Board could throw out the dangerous dog notice that was given by the Mower County Sheriff’s Office, however, it’s also possible that the board would not repeal the notice.

On Aug. 6, a deputy was dispatched to the 2000 block of South Main Street, after receiving a call regarding two stray dogs that were allegedly chasing animals at the residence, according to the Mower County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

When the deputy arrived on scene, he noticed a 16-gauge shotgun on the back cover of a pick-up truck. The deputy spoke with Jeffrey Rickerl, who according to the report, was “very worked up and shaking,” and had just shot at the two dogs that “charged him after killing eight of his Manchurian Golden Pheasants” that were valued at $5,000. The report said that Rickerl told the deputy he killed the grey male dog but the other tan dog “ran off.” The grey dog did not have a collar, but the tan one did, the report stated.

Rickerl told law enforcement that the pheasants were inside the shed, and also inside a completely fenced in pen. He had arrived at the farm, owned by Clinton Hertle, and had been called to the house by Hertle stating two dogs were chasing some animals.

The report said that Rickerl had told the deputy he had a gun with him, and when he turned the corner of the shed, “both dogs charged him and he fired two shots,” hitting the grey dog in the head and killing him, but missed Lola.

Before leaving the scene, Hernandez arrived and stated that the two dogs were hers, and the deputy had advised her that one of her dogs had been shot and killed after “he charged Jeffrey.”

Hernandez had reportedly said that Loki was a certified service dog and was “probably only acting up as he got loose from his collar and chain,” according to the incident report.

Both Hernandez and Bustad stated in the report that they didn’t know how their dogs got loose.

Bustad and Hernandez appealed to the Mower County Board, stating that although they apologized to Rickerl for the pheasants and had expressed that they would be more than willing to compensate him for the damages done, they did not believe Lola should be designated as a dangerous dog.

“Lola is a good dog,” Hernandez told the board. “We’re very sorry for the animals that were killed. … Lola was raised with other animals and raised along with kids. … I feel that should be taken into consideration. She shouldn’t be condemned.”

They also made a point that Loki was a certified service dog belonging to Hernandez’s mother, who served in the military, and had not exhibited any issues prior to the incident that occurred on Aug. 6.

“I feel like a warning shot would’ve been enough,” Hernandez said. “It just didn’t make any sense.”