Rush City Council decides fate of dog

Chisago County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Foster declared an English mastiff dog named Lola, owned by Bret and Tina May, to be a dangerous animal Feb. 27 and ordered that the dog be destroyed.
The Mays filed an appeal, and the life of their animal was ultimately spared.
At the Rush City Council meeting March 13, the council had to decide if Lola should be labeled as a dangerous dog and if she should be destroyed.
There were two incidents that Lola was involved with that led up to the council getting involved.
The first incident happened May 17, 2016. According to the police report, Donna Stellmach said she was bitten by her neighbor’s, the Mays’, bullmastiff dog on her own property. Chisago County Deputy Rick Lonetti was the officer who responded to the call. He went to the hospital and saw extensive bites on Stellmach’s arm, which needed stitches.
The second incident occurred Feb. 25. According to the police report, Bradley Stellmach made an animal complaint against the Mays about Lola. He said Lola came onto his property and attacked his golden Lab, Deuce. He said his dog was bitten, which caused puncture wounds in the dog’s head and ear.
The Mays were told Lola would be taken to an animal control kennel in Ogilvie for 14 days until the decision was made by the City Council regarding their appeal.
At the council meeting, members of the neighborhood, friends, family, Donna and the May family gave statements for and against the destruction of Lola. Foster explained the two incidents to the council, and said both the Mays and Donna would tell their sides of the story.
“Lola came into my garage, and I was afraid, so I screamed,” Donna said. “My dog heard my scream and jumped over the gate on my deck and ran into the garage. My dog and Lola started fighting. They were fighting in my yard, and I didn’t try to break them up. I waited for Bret (May) to get his dog. Bret fell down to the ground and Lola came back and grabbed a hold of my arm. I didn’t provoke that dog at all. Everything that’s happened has been on my property.”
Bret presented his version of the incident.
“My mastiff did not go into the garage,” he said. “I grabbed her by her collar. Donna did come through the garage and she petted Lola. When I was taking Lola back to her kennel, her dog came and attacked my dog. I slipped on the dew and fell in the garden. I did see that Donna got bit. I asked her happened and she said, ‘Your dog bit me.’ There’s no proof that it was my dog that bit her. She stuck her hand between two dogs fighting, and that can happen.”
Council Member Bob Oscarson asked Bret how the dog got out of the kennel.
“The first time the dog got out was on me,” he replied. “That’s my fault. You want to punish somebody? Punish me. Don’t kill my dog.”
Shirley May, Bret’s mother, who lives approximately 3 miles from her son, said: “I live out of town and have a fenced yard, a kennel and a doghouse. Lola can come and live with me. She doesn’t need to be put down.”
Kevin Carlson, who lives in the neighborhood and is an Isanti County deputy sheriff, expressed concern about Lola.
“Even if the dog goes to a neighboring property, for the time being, in my experience in law enforcement of 23 years, it’s a matter of time before the dog comes back to the property,” Carlson said.
The Mays’ daughters, Bailey and Kayla, gave emotional statements regarding Lola.
“I never liked dogs when I was a little girl,” Kayla said in tears. “But Lola taught me how to love dogs. She is my best friend and when I cry, she licks away my tears. She makes me happy and I don’t want her to die.”
Council Member Michael Louzek agreed with Shirley’s suggestion.
“It sounds like it’s a dog that needs to be out in the country away from other animals,” he said. “That’s just my opinion, from what I’ve heard from both sides.”
After hearing and reading over a dozen witness testimonies, the council voted unanimously that Lola was a dangerous dog. Next, Mayor Dan Dahlberg motioned to have Lola move to Shirley’s house. The motion was unanimously approved.
Certain stipulations will be put on Lola: She has to be microchipped, have proper fencing, and wear a muzzle if she is going to be around people other than her owners.
“It’s just not as easy moving Lola in and out of town,” Foster said.
Lola will be placed in Shirley’s care. Lola is not allowed to come back into the city limits in Rush City.
“The dog cannot, under any circumstances, be in town,” Dahlberg said.

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