OPINION: Squamish pooch wars

Spring has not yet sprung and the pooch wars are already underway in the Shining Valley. Two recent letters to the editor of The Chief about how dogs should be handled triggered a tsunami of responses on social media.                        

Brenda Addis said she was fed up with adults saying their dogs are friendly. “Keep him or her away from me and my pets because I’m not friendly,” she warned. “More people are moving here with their own rules. The sign states leash up your dog. Signs state pick up after your dog. I’ve been here for 40 years. Now there is more poop and people are too lazy to pick up after their dog,” she added.               

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Bruce Dean believes owners who keep their dogs on a leash “typically have the least trained and least socialized dogs... Dog licensing laws are wrong, too. They lump us all into one freakin’ basket… Until the authorities get their act together, I will do for my dog and I as we need.”                                                                                                                     

So how are other jurisdictions handling the situation? Maybe the folks down in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, have the right idea. That city is one of the most pooch-friendly places anywhere.

A local plaza even features a doggie watering hangout called the “Fountain of Woof.”

As well, canine room service menus and “Yappy Hour” are offered in hotels and inns throughout Carmel.  In certain areas of the community as long as a dog’s handler is present and the animal is “under voice command” no restraint is required.

However, the dog cannot be more than 25 feet (7.6 metres) away at any time and handlers must carry a leash in case anything goes amiss.

Dogs must also be trained to return to their handlers on command and stay put when other people or animals are present.                                                                                                       

Elsewhere, under the U.K.’s Dangerous Dogs Act, it is a criminal offence for a dog to be “dangerously out of control” in a public place or a location where the dog is not permitted. Even if no attack takes place, owners can be prosecuted when someone feels threatened. That threat could be as simple as a complaint about a dog barking at a person, chasing, or jumping up on them.                                                                                                   

In Tyrol, one of Austria’s nine states, without exception, dogs visiting public districts must be kept on a two to three-metre leash.

Fines up to 360 Euros can be imposed for non-compliance and there is a hefty tab for not picking up after your pet.

In Vienna, which boasts 169 off-leash dog parks, all dogs, big or small, must be muzzled or kept on a lead in communal venues. Under the Clean Streets Act, so-called “WasteWatchers” make sure dog owners scoop the mess left behind by their four-legged friends into the waste bags available from dispensing sites throughout the city.                                                                                                                   

After everything is said and done, numerous options are out there to appease the combatants in the ongoing Squamish canine grudge match. Deciding what’s best for all concerned will be the biggest challenge.

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