Park should be off-leash

Victoria animal control officer wouldn't allow dog off leash at Willows school field despite no one else in the area

I’ve lived with my family for 25 years now in Oak Bay and for most of those years have owned a dog and almost always been well accepted with my animals.

However, the other day while running my dog at Willows school field, a Victoria animal control officer approached me and stated that my dog had to be on leash. It was after 4 p.m. with not one child using the field. A group of other dog owners came who were all told the same thing, simply that a bylaw existed against unleashed dogs at this school field.

All of us present have used this space to exercise our dogs when the school is not using it. All of us are taxpaying citizens who are responsible dog owners, who always pick up after our animals, monitor when they run free and intervene should there be any issues between dogs. Many of us who utilize this field have or have had children attending Willows school and we certainly want to see the fields kept clean. We are all community members who use this space to exercise our dogs while also building community ties and allowing our dogs to become socialized and therefore better behaved.

To my queries as to where I could exercise my dog (who is a large animal and requires more than a walk), the officer cited parks to which I would need a vehicle to drive to and have little running space. This isn’t satisfactory to me as I try to walk and cycle when I can, so to have to drive my dog to another field while there is public space close by does not make any sense.

I would like to challenge this bylaw or perhaps have amendments made to it so that school groups, sport clubs and community members can all co-exist and utilize this space. I should think this would not be hard to do if we come together as a community. I have written the mayor and council to voice my opinion and I’m encouraging any neighbours who are in agreement to do the same.

Marilyn Lapointe

 

Oak Bay