Rules cap canines on open space |

Rules cap canines on open space

Naomi Havlen

New open space rules county commissioners approved Wednesday limit the number of dogs one person may walk on open space trails at one time.No more than three pooches may be in tow on the trails, according to the new changes, and they must be kept on leashes that are no longer than 6 feet. Commissioners Michael Owsley and Mick Ireland voted against the changes, Owsley saying he heard from a concerned resident who has more than three dogs she says she can keep well-behaved.Commissioners initially proposed removing the limit on dogs from the changes and fining owners of out-of-control dogs. But Open Space and Trails Director Dale Will said the trails ranger would find that sort of standard nearly impossible to enforce.According to a recent survey of open space and trail users, Will said, trail users reported being frequently unhappy when they had to veer off a trail because of unruly dogs.”In our experience, when there are more than three dogs, a person can’t make sure they all stay out of the way,” he said. “We have to put the number somewhere.”Commissioner Jack Hatfield said he supports the limit on dogs on the trail and said that once the standard is set the board can hear from the public about its effectiveness. Although the agenda item was a public hearing, no one from the public had any comments at Wednesday’s meeting.According to the new rules, dogs can be on retractable leashes, but owners must keep those leashes at 6 feet or shorter. The code changes would also require dog walkers to have some sort of poop collector with them on open space trails.Another change includes keeping illegal, chronic campers – squatters – off property owned and maintained by the Open Space and Trails Program by sentencing them to no more than 90 days in jail. This punishment would go into effect for campers caught on public land three times within one year.Fines for violating the land code are $100 for the first offense, $500 for the second, and $1,000 for the third offense and thereafter.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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