Some residents skirt leash laws in Bozeman


BOZEMAN, Mont. - With warm weather coming quickly to Bozeman, more and more residents and their pets are out enjoying the sun.

But not everyone is following the rules when it comes to walking their dog. We visited a popular trail in Bozeman, the Gallagator trail that runs from South Third to Peet's Hill around two this afternoon. In the 20 minutes we were there we saw five people out with dogs, but just one them had their pet on a leash.

NBC Montana approached one runner on the trail, asking why their dog was not on a leash.

The runner responded, "Yeah, because it's a pain."

When we reminded him about the leash law, the runner told us to, "Have a good day." The runner declined to answer any more questions.

We asked a woman out walking her dog without a leash how she feels about the leash laws in Bozeman as a dog owner.

As she began retraining her dog she told us, "I am pretty fine with them. I think that they're totally appropriate and now I'm embarrassed."

The leash laws in Bozeman are referred to as a "restraint ordinance." All animals on public property must be on a leash 6 feet or shorter at all times.

Residents with animals in restraint-free zones must maintain verbal command with their animals.

Failure to follow the laws can result in a verbal warning, a municipal fine of up to $100, or even a criminal charge at the officers discretion.

Officer Edelen with Bozeman Animal Control told us, "It's not only for the safety of citizens for prevention of nuisance, it's also for the safety of the dog because lots of dogs chase squirrels, rabbits, cats and if you don't have it on a leash it's got a decent chance of running into traffic and getting nailed by a car. And that's another thing we want to avoid."

There are places to take your pup off leash around town. Bozeman has several off leash areas within city limits, including Burke Park, also known as Peet's Hill; the fenced canine beach at Bozeman Pond; a fenced area of Highland Park off Highland Boulevard; and the Snowfill Recreation area in North Bozeman.