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Spread of canine influenza to impact AHS ‘Walk for Animals’

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Concerns over the presence of canine influenza triggered the request, which will likely impact the animal welfare organization’s biggest fundraiser.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — The impact of Minnesota’s highly-contagious canine flu outbreak continues to be felt across the Twin Cities landscape, with the latest ripple involving a highly-popular fundraiser.

Next weekend’s Animal Humane Society’s Walk for Animals (May 6) will be a shadow of it’s normal self, as organizers are asking owners to keep their dogs away after guidance Thursday by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. 

AHS closed three busy adoption centers on April 9 due to the outbreak, and embarked on a quarantine involving nearly 200 dogs. Investigators found that animals brought in from another facility were likely responsible for introducing the canine influenza to AHS facilities. Veterinary staff say seven dogs had to be put down after being deemed too sick to recovery from canine influenza. 

Now the Board of Animal Health’s Veronica Bartsch says the virus is showing up outside the AHS,  telling KARE 11’s Gordon Severson that four cases of canine influenza have been confirmed and more than 100 additional infections possible. “We’ve been inundated with calls and emails from veterinarians reporting suspected cases,” Bartsch said. 

Bartsch is urging dog owners to keep their pups away from dog parks and other social situations where the highly-contagious virus could be passed. Those whose dogs are showing symptoms — cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite — are asked to quarantine their companions for 30 days. The Board of Animal Health is also asking doggie daycares, kennels and shelter operators to take precautions like sanitizing toys, bowls and equipment and washing beds and blankets. 

The decision to ask dogs not to attend the Walk for Animals was not one AHS made lightly. It is their biggest yearly fundraiser and the closing of their three facilities has already cost AHD more than a million dollars in lost adoption fees, training classes and veterinary bill-outs. 

“It was disappointing to make that call, we definitely didn’t want to,” reflected Dr. Graham Brayshaw, AHS Directory of Veterinary Medicine. “It is our biggest fundraiser, hundreds of thousands of dollars we usually get through this.” 

While the 30-day quarantine recommended by the state expires May 9, AHS may stay closed a few additional days just to make sure canine influenza has been tamped down. 

The Walk for Animals is set for Saturday, May 6 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Dog owners are encouraged to show up even if their pups can’t. 

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7-year-old injured in dog attack in Brooklyn Park

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According to police, the attack happened on the 7500 block of Janelle Avenue North. Police say the girl sustained “superficial” injuries from the attack.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — A 7-year-old girl was injured after being attacked by a dog Tuesday in Brooklyn Park.

According to police, the incident happened on the 7500 block of Janelle Avenue North. Police say the girl sustained “superficial” injuries from the attack.

While attempting to contain the dog, police say it tried attacking a boy. Officers then killed the dog, according to a release.

It’s the second dog attack reported in Brooklyn Park over the past five days after officers responded to a call on Friday, July 19 where two dogs were actively attacking a 3-year-old. The child was transported to a nearby hospital, and was last said to be in “critical” condition. Several officers fired their weapons at the dogs, killing one and injuring the other, according to a release.



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Answers sought after Minneapolis man hit by car, ‘left for dead’, then had backpack stolen

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“They fled the scene and left him for dead,” Andy Meissner, Carl Vargas’ brother, said.

MINNEAPOLIS — Many intersections don’t mean much to most people – except for Victoria Nichols and Andy Meissner. The intersection of Third Avenue South and South Seventh Street now holds a negative connotation after their nephew and brother was hit by a car and left behind in the early hours of July 14.

“My brother Carl was riding his motorcycle home,” Meissner said.

Carl Vargas was riding his motorcycle along Third Avenue South, crossing Seventh where he had a green light. Surveillance video obtained by the family and shown to KARE 11 shows a black Camaro speed through the intersection, hitting Carl, skidding to a stop halfway down the next block.

“What it was at first was anger, was probably what it was,” Meissner said. “Obviously at the whole situation and the fact that these guys did what they did.”

“They fled the scene and left him for dead,” Meissner added.

MPD says this is an active and open investigation, but Nichols and Meissner say they feel left in the dark.

“We’re waiting to hear back about what it being done, but still, it feels like not enough is being done,” he said.

It’s why they’ve spent days asking buildings nearby for that surveillance video.

“There’s several camera angles that we have,” Nichols said.

“The only car that comes after the Camaro,” she said, showing KARE 11 the video. “Of which the two suspects enter in, and then continue down Seventh Street.”

To make matters worse, while Carl is lying on the ground in pain, surveillance video shows a random person come up and takes his bag.

“Made it impossible for first responders to even identify Carl,” Meissner said. “We didn’t find out, pretty much, until Monday.”

Carl is still at the hospital, resting and recovering. Until the people who did this are found, Nichols and Meissner say they won’t stop.

“Trying to get justice for Carl,” Nichols said. “That’s really our bottom line, that’s really the end game here.”

The family is asking for any help or information. To donate, click here.



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State election directors fear the Postal Service can’t handle expected crush of mail-in ballots

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State election directors stressed that they’re worried that too many ballots won’t be delivered in time to be counted.

MINNEAPOLIS — State election directors from across the country voiced serious concerns to a top U.S. Postal Service official Tuesday that the system won’t be able to handle an expected crush of mail-in ballots in the November election.

Steven Carter, manager of election and government programs for the postal service, attempted to reassure the directors at a meeting in Minneapolis that the system’s Office of Inspector General will publish an election mail report next week containing “encouraging” performance numbers for this year so far.

“The data that that we’re seeing showing improvements in the right direction,” Carter told a conference of the National Association of State Election Directors. “And I think the OIG report is especially complimentary of how we’re handling the election now.”

But state election directors stressed to Carter that they’re still worried that too many ballots won’t be delivered in time to be counted in November. They based their fears on past problems and a disruptive consolidation of postal facilities across the country that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has put on hold until after the elections.

Monica Evans, executive director of the District of Columbia Board of Elections, recounted how she never received her mail ballot for her own June primary. She ended up voting in person.

“We had, at last count, over 80 ballots that were timely mailed as early as May for our June 4 primary election,” Evans said, noting that her office could have accepted them as late as June 14, but they still arrived too late. “We followed up and we just kept getting, ‘We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what happened.'”

While former President Donald Trump has complained without foundation that fraudulent mailed ballots cost him a second term in 2020, mail-in voting has become a key component of each party’s strategy to maximize the turnout of their voters in 2024. Now Republicans, sometimes including Trump, see it as necessary for an election that is likely to be decided by razor-thin margins in a handful of swing states. Republicans once were at least as likely as Democrats to vote by mail, but Trump changed the dynamics in 2020 when he began to argue against it months before voting began.

Bryan Caskey, the elections director for Kansas who’s also the association’s incoming president, asked Carter to consider a hypothetical jurisdiction that has a 95% on-time rate for mail deliveries, which he said is better than what almost all states are getting.

“That still means that in the state that sends out 100,000 ballots, that’s 5,000 pissed-off, angry voters that are mad about the mail service,” Caskey said, adding, “Actual elections are being determined by these delays, and I just want to make sure that you’re hearing why we’re so upset.”

“It’s totally understandable,” Carter said. “The frustration is understandable.”

The association’s current president, Mandy Vigil, the elections director for New Mexico, said in an interview afterward that she appreciated that the service was at least willing to engage with the state officials, but that she’s concerned that there isn’t enough time before the general election.

“I think that we are at a place where we really need them to pay attention,” Vigil said. “You know, we’ve been voicing our concerns since last November. But we just aren’t seeing the changes as we’re working through our primary elections. And when it comes to November, like, we need to see a difference.”

Nineteen senators wrote to DeJoy last month asking the postmaster general about the service’s policies and plans to prepare for the 2024 election cycle. They pointed out how the first regional consolidation, in Virginia last year, led to delivery delays that led some local election officials there to direct residents to bypass the mail and place their primary election ballots in designated drop boxes. They noted that Virginia’s on-time delivery rate fell below 72% for fiscal 2024, or over 15% below the national average.

Other consolidations have been blamed for degraded service in Oregon, Virginia, Texas and Missouri. The consolidation has also created concern among lawmakers in Utah, where state law requires that ballots be mailed from within Utah, but the postal service now processes mail from some counties in Nevada after moving some operations from Provo to Las Vegas. The entire Minnesota and North Dakota congressional delegations wrote to DeLoy last month after an inspector general’s audit documented nearly 131,000 missing or delayed pieces of mail at six post offices over the course of just two days.

DeJoy paused the cost-cutting consolidations until January 2025 in the wake of bipartisan criticism, but lawmakers want a commitment that the resumption won’t lead to further delivery delays.



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