Grandfather clause contributes to attack
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010:
DES LACS, N.D.–Grandfather clauses are a common feature of
animal control ordinances, included to ease the passage and initial
enforcement of provisions excluding poultry, livestock, exotic
pets, horses, or dogs of high-risk breed.
The underlying hope of a grandfather clause is that animals
who already live in a community when an ordinance is passed will be
minimally problematic if they are not replaced or augmented by others.
When animal odors and noises are at issue, grandfather
clauses rarely backfire. But Des Lacs, North Dakota discovered in
November 2010 that a grandfather clause in a dangerous dog ordinance
contributed to causing the problem it was intended to prevent.
Founded in 1888, declining for decades, Des Lacs is a town
of barely 200 people located off the main roads west of Minot, known
mainly for the nearby Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
When Des Lacs residents became alarmed in 2006 by the
behavior of two boxer/bull terrier mixes kept by Jason and Anna
Heppler, the town council passed an ordinance prohibiting pit bulls,
including bull terriers and their mixes, modeled after an ordinance
already in effect in Minot since 1987. Then, “Because the
ordinance was passed after the Hepplers arrived in Des Lacs, the
dogs were allowed to remain, under strict conditions delivered to
the Hepplers,” reported Minot Daily News staff writer Kim
Fundingsland. “The Hepplers were warned that the dogs had to stay on
a leash and could never run loose in the community.”
The dogs were in the Hepplers’ home on November 18, 2010
when baby sitter Lori Amsden, 46, ran to their two-year-old
daughter, who had awakened screaming after a nap. Mauled over most
of her body, Amsden was in “stable but guarded” condition at Trinity
Hospital in Minot at Thanksgiving, said Fundingsland.
“According to Anna Heppler,” wrote Fundingsland, “she
warned Amsden on the morning of the attack to ‘don’t go into the
kid’s room’ where the 2-year-old was sleeping and where the dogs were