In early April, Rochester resident Nyckie Evans needed to mail a few letters. She took her teacup Chihuahua Timmy with her for the short walk, but the outting ended with Timmy injured when a loose dog in the neighborhood attacked the dog.

“I was at the crosswalk, walking, and I looked to the left and saw this pit bull running toward us. He was after my dog. I picked my dog up, tried to turn away and he knocked me over,” Evans said last month. “I tried to keep him (Timmy) under my breast, under my arms and yet, he got bit several times.”

Neighbors heard Evans screaming and ran over to help. Timmy was taken to the vet and survived his injuries. Evans called her doctor to talk about her own injuries that she suffered in the fall. A month after the attack, Timmy has healed physically, but Evans said he is now scared whenever he sees another dog.

The incident is a reminder to dog owners the importance of responsible pet ownership. The city of Rochester has 13 dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs in the city, according to Rochester Police Sgt. Chad Blanchette, who oversees the department’s Animal Control Officers.

Two people received dog-at-large citations in connection to the incident involving Evans and her dog. One of the individuals cited has a history of dog violations, according to Blanchette. Evans said neighbors have also seen the dog and another dog that was with it the day of attack running loose in the neighborhood before.

To be declared a dangerous dog in Minnesota, a dog has had to have inflicted substantial bodily harm on a person or killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the dog owner’s property, or having been found previously potentially dangerous and then aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of a person or domestic animal, according to state statute.

While dog bites do occur, Blanchette said the most common complaints and citations are for dogs off-leash and barking. He cautioned that now more than ever it is important to have your dog on a leash when out on sidewalks and trails because foot traffic has increased as people are looking for things to do.

“I'm a pet owner and I feel like my dog is well trained, but I keep my dog on a leash on the trail just because it's a dog,” Blanchette said. “Even with all the training that they have, it's still a dog. You need to be the responsible person and be their guardian and try to keep them safe.”