Photo of my dog, Ringo.
By: Michael Piccoli
After increasing complaints regarding off-leash dogs, Toronto will be cracking down on dog owners.
The city’s website states:
“In Toronto, according to Municipal codes Chapter 349, Animals and 608, Parks all dogs must be kept on a leash whenever they are on any property other than their owner’s – unless they are in designated dogs off-leash areas.”
Tammy Robbinson, strategic communications representative with the city of Toronto explained the details of this bylaw to Humber News.
“We won’t have additional staff to enforce these bylaws,” she stated. “What were looking to do is have bylaw officers when people are in the park.”
Regarding recent complaints, she said, “In 2017 to date we have had 546 complaints about off-leash dogs and 49 charges.”
“The fine for having a dog off leash is $365 in an area they’re not supposed to be,” she said. “There is no bylaw blitz or special operation happening. We’re looking to be more efficient.”
Maggi Burtt, dog walker, trainer and owner, explained that stricter enforcement is perfect for the city.
“I think that what the city was trying was to follow the Calgary model, which was making people responsible,” she said. “This money can be used towards education and I’m all for that.”
Regarding the issue of walking dogs off-leash in regular parks, Burtt said, “I don’t generally let my dogs off leash. I think that some people don’t have control
over their dogs.
She explained that many issues can occur when dogs are off leash.
“I know dogs who were attacked by off-leash dogs. Also, dogs who aren’t being looked after aren’t being cleaned up after either.”
Burtt stressed the importance of responsibility from dog owners, “I think as a multicultural society we have to be aware that there are people who are terrified by dogs. We need to be responsible dog owners.”
Gilleen Witkowski, owner of a dog walking company was pleased by the recent news of bylaw enforcement.
“I think its important for humans to create safe spaces for humans and dogs alike,” she said.
She spoke about the importance of keeping dogs on leashes with regards to her dog walking business.
“In our business we keep dogs on leashes and when I see dogs that aren’t on leashes, it can be dangerous because people think that just because their dog is friendly, they can come running up. But that’s not always the case.”
Witkowski said that people in her business can be on edge around off-leash dogs because they’re unpredictable. When taking care of someone else’s dog, it is important that everyone feels safe, she said.