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What to know before walking your dog in Columbia

As the weather warms up more people are taking their dogs for walks in and around Columbia.

With more dogs on the trail, there is more chance for dogs to interact. There are several things dog owners should know before heading out to enjoy the trails or parks.

The city of Columbia has several ordinances in place to protect dog owners and their furry friends. For example, dogs must be on a leash at all times unless they are one of the designated dog running areas which include:

Grindstone Nature Area, except parking area and trails Bear Creek Nature Area Garth Nature Area Dog Park Twin Lakes Recreation Area Dog Park Indian Hills Dog Park Mike Griggs, director of Parks and Recreation, said the department wants all dog owners to have a few things.

“We expect everybody to be on the trail with a pet to have either a leash and a dog waste bag,” he said.

He said when dogs are off leash it can cause issues for other animals or people.

The Department of Natural Resources is currently investigating an incident in which one man’s dogs attacked another dog while off leash.

The attack happened at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

If someone is caught walking their dog without a leash, or not picking up after their dog, it can be costly.

“This time of year we’re going to out watching for dogs off leash and people not picking up after their pets, and it’s not just a cheap ticket,” Griggs said. “I’ve been out here before and I’ve told someone, ‘Hey you’ve got to pick up after your pet.’ And they’re thinking, ‘Well, I’m not going to carry bags around. It’s just a $10 ticket.’ And it’s not. It’s almost $100.”

If Parks and Recreation or the Columbia Police Department issues someone a citation, they must appear in court where a judge will decide the fee, or take care of it outside of court.

Boone County also requires dog owners to take steps in order to prevent incidents between dogs or between dogs and other people.

Both in Boone County and in Columbia, dogs that have been deemed vicious must be on a leash no longer than 4 feet. In Boone County they must also be muzzled.

Griggs said if somene needs to report an incident they can call the police department’s non-emergency number, which is 311.

You can find the ordinances for both Boone County and Columbia here.

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