Minneapolis ordinance would crack down on dangerous animals

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A Minneapolis City Council committee on Wednesday unanimously approved an ordinance that would sharply increase the costs of harboring dangerous animals and help cover the city’s costs of monitoring them.

The new law would require that the owner of any animal declared by the city to be dangerous pay a $75 annual license fee and $200 annual registration fee. The owner also would have to keep the animal in a steel mesh cage (when outside the cage, the animal would be muzzled and attached to a 3-foot leash), purchase $50,000 worth of liability insurance, post a warning sign on the premises, and have a microchip identification implanted in the animal.

The ordinance also more clearly distinguishes “dangerous” from “potentially dangerous” animals, said Marilyn Fisher of the city’s Animal Control department. About half the “dangerous” declarations are routinely overturned by appeal, she said. “It will make the whole process much more efficient.”

According to the new definition, a dangerous animal is one that:
* inflicts “substantial bodily harm” on an individual without provocation;
* kills a domestic animal;
* aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of another animal or an individual after being declared “potentially dangerous.”

A potentially dangerous animal:
* bites another animal or individual without provocation;
* chases or approaches a person in “an apparent attitude of attack”;
* or has a “known propensity to attack unprovoked,” causing injury or threatening the safety of individuals or other domestic animals.

An animal declared potentially dangerous must have a microchip identification implanted in its neck.

Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon said the consequences seemed a bit onerous and questioned whether a dog who chases a bicycle is necessarily a dangerous animal. “That’s a pretty subjective call,” he said.

Still, he joined his colleagues in agreeing that the ordinance was an improvement. The measure passed unanimously and will be taken up by the entire council on Friday.

In other action, the committee:
• increased the annual rental licensing fee from $39 to $55 for the first rental unit in a building and dropped the annual fee for all additional units from $20 to $19;
• revoked the liquor license of Little Jack’s Steak House;
• set a public hearing to discuss an ordinance requiring retail stores to sell spray paint only from behind locked cabinets and only to people over the age of 17.

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