MANKATO — Owners of one or two dogs — not just those with a houseful of canines — could be affected by changes in Mankato animal policies, particularly if their pup is a boisterous barker.
A Mankato City Council discussion of dog issues, which followed complaints about a seven-dog household on Haynes Street, has prompted some impending changes in how city staff will handle cacophonous canines. No longer will a police officer have to personally hear a howling hound for a dog owner to get a threatening letter from the city.
The city's current approach to noisy dogs is to encourage annoyed residents to call 911. If an officer arrives before the dog has stopped barking, the dog owner is typically given a warning and the incident is noted in city records. If the warning doesn't fix the problem, the process is repeated — the resident calls 911, an officer personally verifies that the dog is causing a disturbance — and the dog owner is issued a citation and a small fine.
The policy has several flaws, according to residents of Haynes Street, where some people have been seriously perturbed by a neighborhood home shared by five Doberman pinschers, a Dalmatian and a black Lab.
First, there's a deep-seated reluctance to dial 911 short of a life-threatening event.
"I grew up in a place where you only call 911 in an emergency," said Rosemary Krawczyk, whose Haynes Street bedroom is just feet from the exercise and toileting area of the seven dogs next door. "... It's just a hard adjustment to make."
Second, even if 911 is called, barking dog complaints are inevitably a lower priority for police officers than assaults, medical emergencies and other calls they might be dealing with.
Third, even if they respond, they might not arrive until after the dog has been brought inside or otherwise quieted.