Bago council gives Lucy another chance

Local News

A dog that attacked and seriously injured Winnebago’s K9 officer will get a second chance and be allowed to live.

“I’ve owned dogs for over 30 years and I’ve never had a dog attack another dog or person. I have been a very responsible dog owner. We know what she did was wrong and we just want to have a fair hearing with the full council,” Scott Reisenbigler told the council.

At their meeting Tuesday night, the City Council voted 3-1 to overturn a death sentence handed down on April 24.

Reisenbigler and his wife Katie also hired Fairmont attorney Derrick Greiner to help make their plea as to why Lucy should not be put to sleep.

“Sometimes mistakes happen and this one they seriously regret,” says Greiner. “It is rash and overstepping to go that far and put the dog to sleep. A conscience approach to this and a steady hand is called for.”

Greiner says the Reisenbiglers have taken the necessary steps to insure an incident like this doesn’t happen again.

“Any other city within a 50-mile radius is going to allow them to keep their dog,” he says. “Scott (Reisenbigler) has told you this has never happened before. Since this happened he has not let the dog leave the house.”

At a special meeting on April 24, only three council members attended to have a quorum so that any action taken would be valid and legal.

Mayor Jeremiah Schutt and council member Jean Anderson voted to euthanize the dog, while council member Paul Eisenmenger cast a “no” vote.

This time, however, council members Calvin Howard and Rick Johnson joined Eisenmenger to give Lucy a reprieve.

Johnson and Howard agree that Reisenbiglers’ dog should be declared dangerous and that several restrictions should be imposed.

“We deem it dangerous puts 100 percent of the responsibility on those two people right over there,” Johnson says in referring to the Reisenbiglers.

Howard says the Reisenbiglers appear to be responsible dog owners and, “There is no doubt in their minds of the severity of the situation.”

On April 11, Police Chief Eric Olson was walking his dog Jack around 7:30 p.m. when Reisenbiglers’ pitbull mixture broke loose from its handler and attacked the K9 officer.

Olson was treated for an injury to his left arm, while Jack was taken to a Mapleton veterinarian and received treatment costing more than $400.

Chief Deputy Scott Adams says Olson contacted the Sheriff’s Department that same night and asked if they would investigate the incident.

“Being that the dog had never been declared dangerous in the past, the dog owner cannot be charged criminally,” says Adams. “It was the county attorney’s opinion that being the dog was not already a dangerous dog, it should not be put to sleep.”

Anderson and Schutt weren’t swayed to change their minds on putting Lucy to sleep.

“The dog is dangerous. Why do we have to wait to the next time this happens and someone gets hurt?” Anderson says.

Schutt says his job as an elected official is to keep residents safe and that it would be hard serving as mayor knowing the dog is in the community.

“I think you guys will take all the precautions. But, all it takes is once and I just can’t live with that. Not as long as I an sitting here. I’m sorry,” Schutt told the Reisenbiglers.

City Attorney David Frundt says that Winnebago, unlike most cities, does not follow state statute by having a city ordinance that is stricter than state code which allows a remedy of putting a dog to sleep.

Adams says in Faribault County the norm historically has been to just declare a dog dangerous and not euthanize the animal for a first incident.

Some of the restrictions the Reisenbiglers will have to follow include, keeping the dog fenced in; erecting warning signs and plaques; muzzling the dog if taken for a walk; having the dog wear a tag that says it is dangerous; and increasing their homeowners liability insurance from $100,000 to $300,000.

Also, the dangerous designation is permanent that follows the animal and must be disclosed to a new owner.

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