Pit bull owners told to have dog destroyed

Otsego officials send letter to owners of dog that attacked a 6-year-old boy

by Jim Boyle zak.jpg

The owners of the pit bull that attacked Zak Knutson, a 6-year-old Otsego boy, have been ordered to have their dog destroyed.

Otsego officials sent a letter this past week to Colleen Coates, Lenny Pipp and Timothy Javes, the registered homeowners at the address where the dog known as Jedda or Jetta resides.

The letter explains that the dog will have to be quarantined for 14 days to make sure it does not have rabies, and then destroyed after having inflicted substantial bodily harm to a human being.

Otsego is well within its rights as authorized by the state and spelled out in its own city ordinance to require the dog be destroyed, according to City Administrator Mike Robertson.

But what could have and should have been done prior to and after the recent attack has been the subject of much discussion in the neighborhood.

Chris Knutson, the father of Zak, has called for a complete ban on owning pit bulls as house pets, much like Denver, Colo. enacted, he said at an open forum during this past Monday’s Otsego City Council meeting. Otsego City Council Member Vern Heidner explained that breed-specific ordinances are not allowed in Minnesota.

Heidner also explained council members would comment very little on issues raised at open forum because a letter from the city was being mailed and the council wanted to ensure due process was followed.

At the very least, Knutson called for closer scrutiny of dog owners, and said there should have been signage to alert the neighborhood of the dangers posed by the pit bull that attacked his son.

“I don’t want to see what happened to my son to happen to anyone else again,” he told the Star News.

Knutson says his family has been forced to live in fear, something neighbor Jill Sanders has experienced for some time because of the two pit bulls that have lived next door to her home.

“The dog ran into my house and went after my dog,” she said. “My children were screaming.”

The animal that attacked Zak and the other pit bull it lives with are on record for an attack of an animal in April 2008, according to Wright County Sheriff’s Department records.  {snippet instory}

Chris Knutson and Sanders question how much effort is put into seeing to it that dog permits are purchased and kept up to date. Otsego officials admit they don’t spend the financial resources it would take to do that.

Robertson says the city of Otsego looks into dog complaints, but it has shied away from hiring a “dog catcher” to patrol neighborhoods and vigorously enforce the city’s dog ordinances. Such services could easily cost $20,000 to upwards of $100,000 annually, depending on how far the city wanted to pursue such matters.

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