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Helena officials discuss leash requirements on city open lands

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 20:01:36-04

HELENA — Helena leaders will discuss a proposal for off-leash dog enforcement at their administrative meeting next week.

According to city documents, more use on Helena's open lands has led to more dogs on trails and parks. In the last year, city officials have received complaints of dogs not being under voice command, which is a requirement.

Generally, dogs are able to be unleashed when on the open lands, within 100 yards of a trailhead and under voice control. But with more complaints comes the proposed restriction of dogs on leashes.

Helena Resident Ashley Hoden, and her two small pups tell me why would feel more comfortable with the restrictions.

“There is so much wildlife and I would love to be able to walk my dogs on the trails and feel safer without having bigger dogs coming up to them. It does make me nervous I don't want anything to happen to my pups and I just think it's best for everybody to just have that protection because you never know dogs are just really unpredictable and wildlife can come out at any time,” said Hoden.

Hoden even goes as far as to say that she would be able to go out with her two dogs Lily and Leo more.

“It would make me more apt to even just feel comfortable like walking around my neighborhood,” said Hoden.

The city is looking at a phased approach to increased off-leash dog enforcement.

Phase 1 would include the development of an educational video that gives specific requirements for Pet Owners, and hikers.

In Phase 2 Dog owners would be required to watch a video and take a quiz before receiving a City Dog License,

and Phase 3 would implement more strict leash requirements, such as no off-leash.

Phase one and two would be implemented between now and 2024. Implementation of phase would depend on the success of the first two phases.

Alternatively to the restrictions, there would be more focus on enforcement and ticketing of dog owners not compliant with leash and voice command requirements.