A doggone problem: After several incidents, Marquette residents warned to control pets

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

The Marquette Council, at a special meeting on May 19, voted not to force a resident in the city’s bench neighborhood to give up her dogs after they escaped from her home and one allegedly attacked another resident’s dog.

The April 30 incident left a puncture mark on the victim dog’s hind leg, prompting the owner to file a vicious animal complaint with the city. That necessitated last week’s public hearing, which over a dozen people attended—most in support of the accused animals.

“They’re not vicious dogs. If they were, they would have done more than just a puncture wound,” said owner Christine Klang. “They’re around kids—around people—all the time, and this is the first time this has happened as far as biting.”

“They’ve gotten out before,” she added, “but we raised the fence up” to prevent it from happening again. In this instance, the dogs accidently escaped when she was going in and out of the home, unloading groceries. Klang immediately went after the dogs once she discovered they were on the loose.

“You do take responsibility that you put forth a great effort,” said Marquette Mayor Steve Weipert. “Everybody’s dogs, at some time or another, get out. There’s no way you can control that 24-7, forever. The problem is what happened once they got out. That’s what we’re trying to deal with.”

The council ultimately voted against removing the dogs because it was unclear which one was the aggressor. Klang may yet face a fine for the dogs running at large, which was the citation issued by a Mar-Mac police officer at the time of the incident.

But this doesn’t mean the issue is completely settled. 

According to Weipert, dog incidents—whether threatening behavior toward humans or other pets, or running at large without a leash—have become too common throughout Marquette.

“You can drive around Marquette and see tons of dogs that are running free,” he told the crowd. “Last year we had one incident of a dog attack. This year, we’ve already had three.”

Weipert and some of the council members acknowledged they’d like to change the city’s ordinance to be less overzealous. In cases of a vicious dog complaint, just one incident could force the owner to remove their pet from the city. Criteria for a vicious dog is also unclear.

“Is one bite vicious or is two bites vicious? How do you determine something like that?” Weipert asked. “We will be having council meetings to change this rule. I’d like to see just as many people here then. Speak up so we can change these rules so they make sense and two people don’t have to suffer.”

However, residents still need to take responsibility.

“It’s a no-win situation for everybody here tonight. People love their pets. They are family,” said councilman Dave Schneider. “But we live up there and there are dogs running loose. We try to politely say, ‘Keep your dog on a leash.’ Unfortunately, what happened with this situation is it escalated. That’s the problem. As a city, as a council, that’s what we’re trying to eliminate. We don’t want to have to take somebody’s pet.” 

“If you own a pet, whether it’s a cat, dog, parrot, snake, whatever, you have a responsibility to take care of it,” Schneider added. “It’s visible in the city now, and everybody is talking about it. So, guess what? It’s going to come up again. If you want to keep your pets, do the right thing. Keep it on a leash, make sure they’ve got their shots, all that stuff.”

Weipert agreed. “You may never think it will happen to your dog, but you never know that.”

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