City Council to view leash rules

NEW ULM — Pet regulations could figuratively and literally be put on a short leash after tonight’s city council meeting.

The council is expected to make a recommendation to the city attorney regarding amending the ordinance requiring leashes for dogs and cats within New Ulm.

In 2004, the city amended the leash law to only require animals be on a leash while on the recreational trail. Prior to this change, pets in the parks were required to be on a leash but the amendment removed this requirement. Since then animals need only be “under the direct control of an accompanying person.”

Last June, the Happy Tails Dog Park Committee recommended to reinstate the leash requirement in city parks with the exception of the dog park.

City Attorney Roger Hippert has raised concerns about defining or prosecuting the “under the direct control of an accompanying person” aspect of the law. Hippert is currently involved with recent incidents and cases regarding dogs running at large, some dogs injuring other animals and/or people.

The council will decide whether to reinstate the leash law and whether the amendment is limited to parks or all public property.

A recent Park and Recreation Department survey taken by 524 people indicated that 78 percent thought leashes should be required in parks and 77 percent thought leashes should be required on all public property including streets and sidewalks. In all, 55 percent thought leashes should not be required on private property.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017 Animal Control Officer Corporal Keith Anderson reported 35 dog bites. Of those 35 incidents, 14 occurred with dogs unleashed. One dog bite incident recorded in 2017 involved Booker, New Ulm’s K-9 Unit dog, who was on a leash at the time.

In other news:

• A grant from the Minnesota Historical Society will come before the council. The $60,000 grant is for assessment of the Hermann Monument base. The city is responsible for a $5,200 match associated with volunteers and in-kind service costs. The study is to review the structural stability of the base and its components. The statue had to be closed last year due to falling debris. It is hoped the study will give a working plan on how to mitigate the known moisture and deterioration problem.

• A 1,500 square foot parcel of land surrounded by a right of way and South Market Park has created an island situation for the property, which is unlikely to be developed. The property has been assessed at $600. The city will consider purchasing the land for inclusion in South Market Park. The property currently belongs to the estate of recently deceased Magdalene V. Scharbach and has been offered for sale.