As winter gives way to spring, the heat is slowly returning to the Colorado front range, and that means that Boulder residents are returning to their favorite warm weather past times. For many, this means going out hiking with their dogs in tow. Boulder is home to hundreds of canine companions, and it’s no strange occurrence to come across proud pet owners and their pups on the popular trials near town. To many outdoor enthusiasts, it’s also a great opportunity to let their dogs loose to romp in nature. The legality of such a practice can be blurry, which is where a dog tag, normally called a Voice and Sight tag comes into play.

Voice and Sight tags are issued by OSMP (Open Space and Mountain Parks) to indicate that the dog wearing them is properly trained to be off leash, meaning they are under the voice and sight control of their owners and guardians at all times. It is law in Colorado that all dogs caught off leash while out hiking must have them displayed on their collars.

To be able to receive a proud purple tag, dogs must prove their vaccination records, and owners must attend a free one-hour class on training and dog handling, and pay a registration fee.

For Boulder city residents, this registration fee is $13 dollars. For Boulder County residents, $33 dollars. For those who come out of town to enjoy the trails around Boulder, the cost of the tag is $75 dollars. There are also renewal fees that come around every year between November and February. Registration and tags can be completed and purchased online, as well.

It can certainly seem like a steep price to pay, especially if one is unsure that the need to prove their dog’s capability to respond to command will ever arise. However, even these costs are less than that of the ticket hikers will receive if they are unlucky enough to be caught. The first offense for not having the tag on an unleashed animal is a maximum of $100 dollars, and every infraction after the first in the following twenty-four months is charged another hundred dollars, plus other fines.

A benefit to the tags, though, is that they are recognized throughout most of the hiking trails nearest to Boulder, so there are many opportunities to the use the tag once registered. Maps on show all of the trails where your buddy is allowed to run free with Voice and Sight tags.

Trails that do not, for a quick reference, include the NCAR hiking trail, and the first stretches of the Chautauqua and Enchanted Mesa trails, in which dogs are mandated to be leashed. Also, McClintock Upper is a no dogs allowed trail, which has reported popular bear activity in the area. Hike a little deeper into the rich mountain terrain, though, and you should be set.

And, if you aren’t the type to unleash your pet while out in the wilderness, you need not worry about the tags at all, they’re only a concern for those who hearts and paws love to wander.


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Mandi Curtis is an exuberant introvert and Colorado native. She's majoring in creative writing at CU Boulder, her latest effort in chasing a lifelong dream of becoming a published author. In her free time, Mandi can be found awkwardly ordering drinks at hipster cafes and reading anything she can get her hands on. She loves Edison bulbs, hiking, and trying new things. She's an avid traveler, so far having been to seven foreign nations stretching from Spain to the UK. She's passionate and determined by nature. She's volunteered in hospital gift shops and entertained unaccompanied children on trans-Atlantic flights. Mandi does not have the stomach to ever say no to a furry four legged friend, which makes her the perfect servant to her cat.