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Charges filed in Cloquet dog attack

Charges have been filed against the owners of three dogs that allegedly escaped a kennel and killed another dog that was being walked by a Cloquet woman last week.

Stephen Woollett, 59, and Amber Woollett, 22, both of Cloquet, each are charged with misdemeanor counts of dangerous animals — attack by an animal and dogs running at large. Amber Woollett faces two counts of each, while Stephen Woollett faces one of each. The charges each carry maximum penalties of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint:

Cloquet police received a report of a dog attack at about 3:45 p.m. on June 5. Kayla Wenneson told the officer that she had been walking her miniature Sheltie, Kaito, on Eighth Street and passed a home where three dogs in a kennel were barking. Wenneson said the three dogs escaped the kennel, ran across the street and attacked Kaito. Wenneson struggled to get her dog away from the other three, and was bitten on the finger.

A passerby stopped to help and was able to pull one of the attacking dogs back so that Wenneson could grab Kaito; the good Samaritan told Wenneson to get into her vehicle — as the three dogs continued jumping, trying to get at the wounded dog — and drove Wenneson and Kaito to Cloquet Animal Hospital. Kaito died during emergency surgery.

A police officer later drove Wenneson back to the scene, where she identified the house where the dogs came from. The officer "was familiar with the residence and knew the owners had received potentially dangerous dog notices stemming from a prior incident the previous month," the complaint states.

The officer made contact with the homeowner, Stephen Woollett; one of the dogs was registered to him, and the other two to Amber Woollett, who also lives at the residence, the complaint states. One of the dogs — a pit bull named Princess — had blood on her nose and paw, the complaint states. The other dogs were a German shepherd/pit bull mix named Bandit, and a pit bull named Obie.

The dogs were surrendered to Friends of Animals Humane Society.

Cloquet police Cmdr. Derek Randall said Tuesday that the dogs face potential euthanization.

"The process is still in the petition phase," he said. "The dogs are in quarantine. I do not know if the owners have opted to euthanize any of the dogs yet. They still have time to petition the city regarding the situation."

Wenneson told the Pine Journal last week that she was walking Kaito on their usual route when the attack happened. She said she did not see an owner of the dogs come out of the house during the attack, which she said lasted more than 10 minutes.

"(The dogs) were ripping him to shreds for 10 minutes before the lady drove by and stopped to help," she said. "I heard him cry out so loud at first and then nothing, complete silence. We just looked each other in the eyes and he was terrified."

The prior incident involving the three dogs, referenced in the criminal complaint, occurred on May 9.

Sarah Gustafson told the Cloquet Pine Journal that she was walking her leashed Labrador retriever/golden retriever, Rizzo, on Eighth Street past the same house when she noticed the dogs in a chain-link outdoor kennel.

"We had just walked past the owner's home and I saw one of the dogs in the kennel pulling at the bottom corner of the fence gate," said Gustafson. "Then another one slipped through which pried the gate open for the other two to get out."

A neighbor saw the dogs and tried to chase them away from Rizzo as they circled her and pulled on the dog from all angles. He succeeded in creating enough of a diversion for Gustafson to pick up her dog and escape with minor bites and scrapes. Police were called, and — according to the complaint — notices were given to the dogs' owners.

The defendants are due to appear in court July 24.

The Cloquet Pine Journal contributed to this report.