In a move sure to irritate dog owners (read: plenty of Missoulians), the City Council approved a resolution Monday night calling for owners to leash their dogs on Mt. Jumbo, the North Hills and the Kim Williams trail.
The Council split nearly down the middle, but ideological preferences played no role in the decision. Marilyn Marler, who made the motion, joined Ed Childers, Dick Haines, Lyn Hellegaard, Renee Mitchell, Stacy Rye and Jon Wilkins in supporting the resolution.
John Hendrickson, Bob Jaffe, Dave Strohmaier, Pam Walzer and Jason Wiener opposed it, favoring an earlier resolution calling for owners to control their dogs in those areas through voice restraint.
Strohmaier, who made the first motion, told the Council that he understood the concerns of leash law proponents. When a dog sticks his nose in your crotch, or worse yet, your baby stroller, you have no idea whether that dog is friendly or not. That being said, Strohmaier said he had heard from a number of his constituents that the ability to walk their dogs off leash was an important quality of life issue in Missoula, a notion Jaffe seconded.
Marler, a wildlife biologist at the University of Montana, spends most of the summer on Mt. Jumbo and Mt. Sentinel and expressed concerns about the welfare of the wildlife in those areas. She says she also runs frequently and has to deal with the occasional aggressive dog, an annoyance that escapes the notice of many dog owners.
“I’m sure everybody in this room has dogs that are little angels,” she told the packed chambers. “It’s everybody else’s dogs that cause problems.”
As such, it’s hard to yell at somebody about their dog without feeling like a jerk, she told the crowd. “But that’s why we’re elected, to make these decisions.”