It’s hard to know where to begin unpacking the twisted logic and special pleading in Mark Hawkes’ letter (“Dog Owners shouldn’t be scapegoat for problems in parks” Saanich News, Jan 11). I am often in our various parks and wilderness areas, and the things I regularly witness with off-leash dogs is astounding.
Recently I watched aghast as one couple allowed their large dog to repeatedly bound into the pond at Beckwith Park, putting all of the resting winter ducks into the air in a panic. When this was brought to their attention, they fully ignored it and carried on their way (with leash in hand) while the dog continued to run wild. This harassment of wildlife is a chargeable offence.
Mr. Hawkes states that policy ought to be based on evidence, and I agree. The evidence is mountainous that when dogs are off-leash, they will very often harass and sometimes kill birds and other wildlife, and destroy critical nesting areas. They will get into horrific fights with other dogs; jump up on children, the elderly and others; be aggressive with people, sometimes involving full-on attacks and biting, all while the owner states: “It’s OK, he’s friendly!”
I know many people who no longer go to Island View Beach, Whiffin Spit, etc, for the sole reason that the once idyllic locations have deteriorated into a disquieting gong show of dogs running amok. It dawned on me a few years ago just what it is that makes Swan Lake such a pleasant and enjoyable place to visit – no dogs are permitted. To call Saanich’s People and Parks project “persecution” only reveals the manufactured, tissue-thin grievance mongering of the Citizen Canine Dog Owners Association. A statement on their Facebook page is also revealing of their inconsideration: “We will fight, and if we lose that fight, many of us will not comply.”
Other than designated appropriate and approved off-leash areas, requiring that all dogs be on-leash at all times in public parks and on all beaches is a completely reasonable and balanced rule to have in place.