By Alexis Deaton EBS Staff Writer

I have a special place in my heart for dogs – I grew up with them and am looking forward to having them in my home again when the time is right.

In the meantime, I’m happy to share my affection for any canine companion that crosses my path. This love for pooches is present in our Big Sky community as well, evident in nearly every outdoors experience.

The Outlaw Partners office also has an affinity for dogs. Any given day, we share our workspace with a number of four-legged friends, which add comfort and character to our work experience.

Since several of our neighboring businesses know this, an August incident led a concerned citizen to bring a loose pup to our office hoping one of us was the owner. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

This sweet black Labrador, caked in dried mud up to her shoulders, nearly lost her life crossing Lone Mountain Trail toward Town Center. She didn’t possess any identifying tags so my coworkers and I started a social media campaign and made contact with other dog owners in the area.

One point of outreach was the Big Sky Sheriff’s office in hopes they would be contacted about the missing lab. Deputy Sheriff Justin Gould, who came by our office to see the pooch, mentioned past incidents in which lost dogs were brought to their office with the intent that the dogs would be reunited with their owners.

Since this didn’t occur, these dogs were given away to other community members. The Big Sky Sheriff’s office doesn’t have the resources to house lost pets or the time to deliver them to Belgrade’s Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.

There were 20 incidents this summer involving loose dogs without tags brought into their office, according to Deputy Gould. “Big Sky has lots of dogs off-leash,” Gould said. “It would be really beneficial if dogs had tags.”

Gallatin County’s Dog Control Ordinance 2003-01-8 states that, “it is unlawful to be an owner of a dog over the age of six months that is not currently vaccinated for rabies and is not wearing a collar with a tag showing proof thereof.” This can result in a fine of up to $150.

We were unable to locate the lab’s owner by the time the Outlaw office closed, so I decided to take her home, to feed and bath her. Fortunately, this incident ended with a reunion with her relieved owner that evening.

I’ve experienced an incident when the story of an anonymous dog didn’t end on a positive note. Driving from Bozeman to Big Sky several years ago, I was following a motorcyclist south of Four Corners when an animal made a swift attempt at crossing Highway 191 in front of the motorcycle.

The biker reacted safely and correctly by not swerving, but hit the animal. He immediately pulled over and while I checked on the motorcyclist, I noticed the husky-mix on the roadside.

The motorcyclist was devastated and the dog was barely breathing. While trying to comfort the animal and checking for tags, he passed away.

Without tags, there was no one to contact and let them know their pet just died; no way to inform them that he would be taken to the Heart of the Valley as his final place; and no one for the biker to provide his condolences.

Everyone wants the best for their canine family members and this includes returning home safely. As dog lovers, we’re quick to provide our pets everything from dog beds to “pawdicures,” but be sure to include dog tags at the top of this list.

To help make this happen, Outlaw Partners has teamed up with Dee-O-Gee of Bozeman, offering a $5 discount on dog tags.

DeeOGee