1909 Kalispell Ordinance: Dog Regulations

Real Estate Broker/Owner with 406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® RRE-BRO-LIC-75443

I recently found an online directory of Kalispell City ordinances and thought it’d be intriguing to see what some of the ordinances of the past were. If I can find enough interesting material, I hope to share one ordinance from each year. This week's post will cover a Kalispell ordinance I found from 1909. A heads up: Dog lovers will not be happy with the 1909 ordinance.

There must have been an issue with dogs running loose on Kalispell's city streets in 1909. Ordinance #204 which was approved on May 10th started by stating that the "running at large" of dogs anywhere in the City of Kalispell was prohibited. Any dog that was caught doing so would be impounded. If the impounded dog wasn't claimed within 48 hours, the pound master would attempt to auction the dog. If he did not get an offer of $2 the dog would be killed. Any male dog that was running loose and seemed to be "mad" would be killed immediately and any female dog running at large would be killed immediately.

Also, it was against the law for anyone to harbor a dog that annoyed any other person with its loud and frequent barking, yelping, howling or any other noises. Further, if a dog bit another person or animal the police magistrate would issue an order directing the owner to kill it within 24 hours. If the owner refused, the pound master would do so.

The pound master was appointed by the mayor. The ordinance also indicated it was not allowed for anyone to try to stop the pound master or any officer who was attempting to take a dog to the pound nor could they "break, open or injure" the city pound in any way.

The ordinance also indicated everyone who has a dog in Kalispell had to obtain an annual license that cost $3 for each male dog and $15 for each female.

Anyone violating any part of this ordinance would be fined a sum up to $100.  


How have things changed since 1909?

It's interesting that there was specific wording that was intended to stop anyone from interfering with the dog catcher. Perhaps that was because people in the early 1900s also didn't like the fact that dogs were being killed so quickly and would indeed try to stop them. Most if not all towns and cities still do not want dogs running around "at large" in 2023. In fact, current Kalispell ordinances still indicate dogs that run at large will be impounded and their owner will need to pay a fine to get them back. So the rule that dogs must be impounded has not changed but has anything changed in the last 115 years in terms of what happens to those animals?


The Flathead Valley Animal Shelter currently houses stray and surrendered animals and focuses on the adoption - not killing - of those pets. When the shelter opened in 1983, they had high intake numbers with low staff and housing resources so euthanasia results were high (approximately 64.5% of dogs were euthanized). In 1998 the shelter relocated to a larger facility and increased housing size and staff. Euthanasia rates decreased but were still in double digits. In 2008 the shelter was taken over by the Flathead City-County Health Department and by adopting industry standards they were able to get euthanasia numbers down to single digits. The shelter indicated in a recent news article that they typically euthanize animals only if there are safety or quality of life concerns, not because of space concerns. In 2022, 2% of dogs were euthanized.

As for licensing, dog licenses are still required but they are not an annual expense. The dog license must be obtained once. It's a lifetime license and costs $45 for either male or female dogs. The license is good as long as the dog's rabies vaccinations stay current.

This author and her husband are glad the rules have changed. They allowed us to adopt our wonderful dog Hercules from the Animal Shelter. In 1909 he would have been killed.

And there you have it, another blast from the past of Kalispell Montana. I wonder what I'll find the next time I peek into the Kalispell Ordinances?

As always if you have any real estate related questions, feel free to give me a call on 406-270-3667 or email me at kat@thehousekat.com.

Originally posted at thehousekat.com.

Comments (27)

Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Those types of laws certainly don't fit society these days, too many people are overly sensitive about everything.

Feb 16, 2023 04:20 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Brian England - it's interesting to say the least about how society handled things 100+ years ago and how they handle things now.

Feb 16, 2023 04:40 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

You were sooooo right, Kat... as a dog lover and a dog mom, I did not care for the 1909 dog laws... but I did enjoy reading about them. So happy to hear that the level of euthanasia in Flathead Valley is down to 2% and used only in extreme situations.

Feb 16, 2023 05:30 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker

Kat Palmiotti hi Kat... I'm happy to see fewer and fewer kill shelters, in general.

Feb 16, 2023 05:37 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Nina Hollander, Broker - I actually was thinking of you as I wrote that sentence - I knew you wouldn't be happy about it.

Feb 16, 2023 05:34 AM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

What a blast from the past Kat. Glad to read the new Kalispell dog ordinance has adoption now!

Feb 16, 2023 06:47 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400 - we are a kinder and gentler Kalispell. :-)

Feb 16, 2023 07:54 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, rules were pretty harsh back in 1909, and glad the rules have eased.  Hercules is so cute!

Feb 16, 2023 08:23 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Joan Cox 

Feb 16, 2023 12:05 PM
Jerry Newman
Brown Realty, 210-789-4216, - San Antonio, TX
Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation

Hi Kat Palmiotti We are all dog lovers at my house, so I was thrilled to see that the rules had changed since 1909 for dogs in Kalispell. Adoption is certainly a better alternative, which we wholeheartedly support. 

Feb 17, 2023 08:18 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Me too Jerry Newman - dogs and owners back in the day didn't have much of a chance!

Feb 17, 2023 10:51 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Kat Palmiotti - when it comes to city ordinances, it really all depends on who the leadership or council is to make the rules. I'm sure glad people today don't have to abide by that cruel ordinance that we set so many years ago. 

Feb 18, 2023 05:47 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Agree, Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP ! And have a wonderful day!

Feb 18, 2023 06:38 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Feb 18, 2023 07:03 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you so much Kathy Streib for the Sunday feature!

Feb 19, 2023 04:58 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Kat. Leave it to politicians and you get what you get. Nonsense seems to be their goal. And, unfortunately, they get there most of the time. Enjoy your day.

Feb 19, 2023 04:59 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Enjoy your day also Wayne Martin !

Feb 19, 2023 06:07 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

I find it fascinating that female dog licenses were so much more expensive than male - I am glad that my dogs weren't living in Kalispell in 1909 too! 

Feb 19, 2023 06:13 AM
Kat Palmiotti

I was surprised also Lise Howe !

Feb 19, 2023 06:42 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Those original laws would appear to be tough, but I would venture that there were a lot of wild dogs roaming the area as well.

Feb 19, 2023 01:05 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Most likely Ed Silva !

Feb 20, 2023 05:07 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Times were certainly tougher for dogs and their owners in 1909, Kat. Makes we wonder what the ordinance is here in Carlsbad dog-wise. I'll have to check with the city.


Feb 19, 2023 04:51 PM
Kat Palmiotti

I'm sure it's different than it would have been in 1909 Jeff Dowler, CRS !

Feb 20, 2023 05:07 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

It's interesting to see some of these ordinances from the past. Some things change and some do not.

Feb 19, 2023 06:31 PM
Kat Palmiotti

So true Dr. Paula McDonald !

Feb 20, 2023 05:07 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Kat, as a pet lover and pet friendly Realtor I read your post with great interest, now in all fairness I get annoyed when I see pets off lease, first it is dangerous to the dog if they decide to sprint across the street as an example. I am also annoyed with homeowners who just put their dogs in the backyard or front yard without supervision.... We have coyotes and racoons as an example that re not dog friendly, Endre

Feb 19, 2023 07:31 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Endre Barath, Jr. - We have coyotes too and they could certainly be dangerous to dogs!

Feb 20, 2023 05:08 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Dogs at large are still problem in many communities, Kat. I 100% believe in leashing dogs for their protection and for everyone else's sake as well. The pound master facility was a killing machine and am glad times have changed for the better for animals.

Feb 20, 2023 11:36 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Me too Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! 

Feb 20, 2023 02:43 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!

Had to come back and comment, Kat Palmiotti...My clients were walking their Border Collie the other morning and two Pit Bull's opened the door to their owner's house (lever front door handle) and proceeded to charge their dog, unprovoked. Needless to say, the Border Collie had to be rushed to the vet because of multiple bites. I wonder what the pound master would have done if this happened back then...

Feb 26, 2023 10:18 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Kat and how did I miss this the first time around here in the rain.  Interesting blog for sure my friend!


Feb 21, 2023 09:10 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Will Hamm !

Feb 21, 2023 12:28 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Friday morning, Kat.

Have a great day and an outstanding weekend.

Feb 24, 2023 05:51 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you and I wish you the same Roy Kelley!

Feb 24, 2023 06:52 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, checking in to see how your hand/wrist is doing.   Did the swelling go down, and you can now use it?

Feb 27, 2023 02:52 PM
Kat Palmiotti

You are too sweet Joan Cox , thank you. The swelling is mostly gone, the arm on two sides is a lovely shade of yellow green and blue, and it's still quite sore and I cannot move it in certain directions or put too much pressure on my hand. That being said, I can now brush my teeth with my right hand and drive so it's definitely an improvement!!!!!

Feb 27, 2023 03:17 PM
Joan Cox

Kat Palmiotti UGH, that sounds so painful, but glad you can brush your teeth!    I know when I cracked my ribs, it was a while before I could do lots of things, so hope you heal fast!

Feb 27, 2023 03:42 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Joan Cox !

Feb 27, 2023 05:41 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Wednesday morning, Kat. 

I am sure you are well prepared for a strong spring market

Mar 01, 2023 07:52 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Roy Kelley for your morning greetings - Good morning! As for the market, it's going well so far..

Mar 01, 2023 08:16 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Kat hope all is well just stopped in to see what the latest and greatest update you have on your posts? Endre

Mar 03, 2023 11:28 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Endre Barath, Jr. - I sprained my wrist a few weeks ago and for days all I could do was "like" posts, and then I graduated to being able to write a few words, then a few sentences. I'm almost ready to write a blog!

Mar 04, 2023 04:32 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
Relocation to NW AZ with elbow room & more freedom

Mohave County AZ has dog licensing and is renewed with each Rabies vaccination.

Mar 08, 2023 06:47 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Leanne Smith - ours hinges on getting those vaccinations also! How's the puppy doing?

Mar 08, 2023 08:21 AM