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Austin Ashlock, Forum News Service, Published July 10 2013

Sheriff defends decision to kill dogs at Walsh County home

WALSH COUNTY, N.D. - Walsh County Sheriff Lauren Wild is confident in his choice to kill 13 of Peter Grzeskowiak’s dogs after a pack of them attacked a Fargo man early Sunday morning outside of Warsaw, N.D.

On Wednesday, Wild said capturing and quarantining the dogs was an option, but the animals’ size and aggressiveness left him and his deputies with no choice but to shoot them.

“I was not going to put my men and others in danger with those dogs, and who would take them?” Wild said. “We saw what they did to that young man, it was clear our options were very limited.”

Wild and his deputies acquired a warrant Monday to search Grzeskowiak’s property and kill the dogs.

“We did this out of public safety,” Wild said. “We needed to make sure these dogs couldn’t harm anyone else.”

Barbara Whelan and Kelley Cole of the Walsh County state’s attorney office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sheriff’s deputies and a veterinarian arrived on the property Monday with the intention to euthanize all of the dogs, but a dispute with Grzeskowiak forced them to resort to shooting.

“I told my people, either he lets us euthanize the rest of the dogs, or we arrest him for hindering and he goes to jail and we have to do what we have to do,” Wild said. “Unfortunately that’s what happened.”

Following Grzeskowiak’s arrest deputies proceed to kill eight more dogs.

Wild said deputies were aware of the possibly dangerous dogs during calls to Grzeskowiak’s home in the past.

“I had a rule that my people were not allowed to go onto the property and to honk the horn until (Grzeskowiak) came out,” Wild said. “Because we didn’t know how long those chains were or even if they were chained.”

However, Sunday’s attack was the first reported violent incident involving the dogs.

A total of 14 dogs were killed, with officers returning to Grzeskowiak’s property Tuesday, when they killed the remaining dog locked in the house.

Wild said the bodies of the dogs have been sent to the North Dakota Department of Health where specialists will test their remains for rabies.

As for their owner, Grzeskowiak remains under custody and has been charged with physical obstruction of a government function and two counts of mistreating animals.

His bond is pending a mental evaluation during the week of July 25.

Wild said additional charges could be on the way.

Authorities said they believe two dogs may have run off during the deputies’ search on Monday.

The department urges anyone who sees stray dogs in Walsh County to call (701) 352-2041.