COLORADO SPRINGS – The dog days of summer are upon us and thousands of Colorado dog owners like to bring their pup along to experience the great outdoors. In this 360° Perspective we’re taking a closer look at leash laws that are meant to keep you and your pet safe.
The American Veterinarian Medical Association says 65-percent of Colorado households have some type of pet. In a survey by groups including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, The No Kill Network, and statistics from the Bureau of Labor, Colorado ranks the second best state in the country to own a dog, after Oregon.
Some of the reasons include about six dozen no-kill shelters, more than 2,000 veterinarians, tough animal protection laws and some of the best trails in America.
But many of those options have rules in place for the safety of your pet and others. Leash laws assure physical control, you can keep your dog away from a threat which could save its life. They stop dogs from chasing other animals, people, bikes and vehicles. Leash laws can prevent runaways and keep them from ending up as a stray in a pet shelter. It’s also the most reliable way to be courteous to neighbors and strangers who come along. You may know your dog but, they don’t. Leashes can prevent unwanted confrontations.
News 5 went to Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs. A sign is clearly posted reading dogs must be on a leash. Our cameras spotted a pair of dogs walking freely despite the signs.
Sam Breeden was also there walking her dog Murphy, she is also a volunteer and student-trainer at “All-Breed Rescue and Training.
“You always want to try to put them on a harness, it just makes it more comfortable for them, and a lot more control for you,” Breeden said.
“I always like to tell people, just because your dog is friendly does not mean my dog is friendly. If you meet somebody on the street would you feel comfortable with them just running up and being like “hi! hi! hi! Nice to meet you!” Give you a hug? No. If you don’t know that person you’re a little leary and it makes you nervous and you need to think about that in relation to how it makes your dog feel, ” Breeden added.
Red Rocks Open Space, another Springs city park, has a clearly posted leash sign. Our cameras didn’t spot anyone disobeying the rules there but another visitor has seen it.
“Most people have their dogs really well trained if they are off leash, I don’t think we’ve had any problems yet, I don’t think I’ve had a dog that’s tried to be mean or overly aggressive, it’s been good,” Julia Driscoll said.
Back in February, El Paso County Commissioners voted to reinstate leash laws at regional parks and trails. There are consequences if someone files a complaint against you, they start with fines, but it can be as severe as jail time.
“We definitely don’t like to see when animals get loose and get hit by cars. We do see that happen and that’s why we have leash laws and that’s why we take it to heart,” Sgt. Jeff Rigney said.
On the local level, parks in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Pueblo and Woodland Park all have signs posted with specific rules. Outside the parks, city ordinances define unleashed dogs that aren’t on their owner’s property as “at large” which can be deemed a nuisance, and subject to animal control.
In El Paso County, leash law violations in regional parks come with a $50 fine the first time, $100 the second time and $150 the third time.
Repeat offenders could even face jail time or their pet can be impounded. We didn’t find any local cases on the books of anyone being arrested for leash law violations.
Pueblo County will impound loose dogs which can cost you $30 to get them back. Fines increase with each violation in a calendar year.
On the state level, Colorado Parks and Wildlife requires dogs on a six foot or shorter leash at all times. They also have resources on their website on fun things you can do with your dog at specific parks.
On the federal level, according to the Parks Service, most national parks don’t allow dogs on hiking trails. Those that do typically require leashes and cleaning up after your pet. But before you visit any natural or historic site, camp, a body of water or more check for the specific rules before heading out.
Pets are allowed in national forests but must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet at all times within recreation areas and on interpretive trails. Most other areas do not require dogs to be on a leash but they should be under control at all times.
Again, leash laws are in place for everyone’s safety. If you need to leash train your dog there are many organizations that can help. A quick google search will do the trick or you can click here and here for some options we found. There are also off leash training courses.
This report was produced by Logan McCrary.
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