We’re here about your dog. That’s right. Look at him—he knows what he did.

Actually, you might have heard this PSA already in the local daily. On a few occasions this young season, the Missoula Parks and Recreation Department used a rolled-up Missoulian to thwap dog owners on the nose with threats of heightened leash law enforcement.

Unleashed canines are out of control, the city says, knocking over toddlers, mauling weed-eating sheep and harassing calving elk and mule deer. As a result, parks officials have rolled out a public information campaign targeted at corralling the four-legged nuisances.

The latest stop on the bandwagon involves Missoula sheep rancher John Stahl, who has experienced some problems since dispatching his herd to deal with invasive plants in the North Hills. Apparently dogs have been assaulting his flock and managed to butcher a sheep already. We heard one attack involved a pair of dogs working together—a clear violation of the Looney Tunes rules of sheep engagement that require a predator to punch out before the replacement clocks in.

As a weed control method, sheep constitute an eco-friendly alternative to pesticides, and make good sweaters to boot. We, at the Indy, approve of sheep.

The anti-dog propaganda that the city seems so eager to proliferate, however, we find disconcerting. It’s un-American, or rather, un-Missoulian, which is the same thing, only lazier. Simply put, the laissez-faire overindulgence of our furry friends is as much a part of the town’s identity as the Wilma, Mount Sentinel and Charlie B’s.

At one point, earlier in the campaign, Parks and Rec press flak Rebecca Goodrich phoned the Independent to push a potential story. “We want to get the message to the alternative audience,” she said to a member of the editorial staff.

A few Indy staffers, some a smidge under family-rearin’ age, were a bit taken aback. Young professionals are about as close as Missoula gets to a minority group, and now the government is profiling us as irresponsible dog owners. Is it time to start looking over our shoulders for nightstick-wielding cops? Dare we say, it is.

As far as the city’s latest enforcement threats—which include $500 fines and bench orders that would require “vicious dog” owners to carry $25,000 in liability insurance—we advise our readers to take them seriously. We also recommend that Parks and Rec chill out and scale back this unpopular counter-Fido movement.

If this were Hot Springs, your whole crew would be indicted.


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