Dogs de­serve more from Toronto

The GTA should be will­ing to ac­com­mo­date ca­nine own­ers with more off-leash ar­eas

Thornhill Post - - News -

I like dogs. I have one. And, keep this be­tween you and me, there has been more than one oc­ca­sion when I’ve let the old girl off leash.

Es­pe­cially af­ter an ul­ti­mate Fris­bee game at Sun­ny­brook Park when she plays around with the other dogs and mooches snacks from team­mates. It hap­pens. In my neigh­bour­hood, we have a Face­book chat group, and with in­creas­ing reg­u­lar­ity some­one posts about a dog and a leash. Mayhem en­sues. Good for noth­ing dog own­ers should be ar­rested, pub­licly flogged and, gasp, li­censed!

Oth­ers say chill out. Ev­ery­thing is bet­ter with a dog. And pooch peo­ple pay taxes, too, gosh darn it. I get the sen­ti­ment. The parks are very crowded, and dogs get in the way, cause ac­ci­dents, scare lit­tle kids, trip the el­derly. All dogs are not cre­ated equal. Some dogs are just not as grace­ful, pa­tient and lov­ing as mine. Ahem.

And maybe it’s be­gin­ning to be­come a prob­lem, even as we hon­our our four-legged friends with foun­tains down at Ber­czy Park and have en­tire fes­ti­vals ded­i­cated to their bet­ter­ment.

This month, we took to the streets to col­lect sto­ries of heated en­coun­ters be­tween the have-dogs and the have-nots and tried to piece to­gether some idea of where it all went wrong or if it even did.

It’s a lot to take in. There are some se­ri­ously an­gry peo­ple out there. There are even dog parks that are no­to­ri­ous be­cause of the num­ber of fist fights that break out. We even heard one story of some­one who was chased by a drunken dog owner look­ing to knock his ca­nine-lov­ing block off.

This just can­not stand. So, where do we be­gin?

First, there is a short­age of ar­eas for dogs. For in­stance, the folks near Rams­den Park woke up one morn­ing to find out their off-leash zone was go­ing to be shut down. Seems a lit­tle harsh, if you and your pooch’s daily re­cre­ational rou­tine has van­ished overnight.

Thorn­hill has only one dog park and Rich­mond Hill is home to just two. The short­age con­trib­utes to dogs be­ing off leash in non-des­ig­nated ar­eas.

In ad­di­tion, per­haps we could re­lax some of the strict rules in ar­eas that are, you know, empty. One con­fronta­tion of note in­volved a per­son who had his dog off leash at a school field. The only other peo­ple were 50 yards away. But there was still a prob­lem.

If ev­ery­one sim­ply ex­er­cised good judg­ment, there would never be an is­sue. But when has that ever hap­pened?

There are over 200,000 dogs in Toronto and less than 60 of­fleash parks. It’s time for so­lu­tions, not com­plaints.

My pooch, livin’ the dream in the big city

RON JOHNSON

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