Dogs play at Willard Beach in South Portland last month. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — After three months of trying, the City Council has finally passed new offseason leash requirements for dogs at Willard Beach and Hinckley Park.

The council unanimously approved the sixth iteration of animal ordinance changes Thursday night, including an amendment that will require dogs to be on leash at Willard and Hinckley from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Oct. 1 and April 30.

Dogs may run off leash at other times in most city parks when they are open to the public between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The changes go into effect Nov. 25.

The city’s animal ordinance already required dogs to be under immediate voice and sight control. But now it stipulates that immediate voice control means a dog responds immediately at first call or signal to return and remain beside its owner or keeper. It also says sight control means a dog is always within sight of its owner or keeper.

Existing regulations also require that from May 1 to Sept. 30, dogs are allowed at Willard Beach only between 7 and 9 a.m. and 7 and 9 p.m., and that dogs always must be leashed in Mill Creek Park and on public streets, sidewalks, parking lots and the Greenbelt Walkway.

Willard and Hinckley have become popular destinations for dog owners throughout Greater Portland, triggering perennial conflicts over dog waste, environmental impacts and public safety.

The council acted to address some residents’ concerns about being jumped on or run down by uncontrolled off-leash dogs, even though that’s more of a problem in the summer, when city officials have counted as many as 300 dogs on Willard Beach during morning hours.

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