Finding the right balance

Dogs are often off-leash in Pump Park, but should it be allowed?

Dogs running illegally off-leash in Pump Park have some Rathnelly residents barking over safety.

An area resident told a January community meeting about two separate encounters which he says involved unleashed dogs.

“Both my young sons have been bitten by dogs in Pump Park,” he said adding that in one incident the bite drew blood. “In both cases it was on a weekend during the day.”

During a weekend visit to the area, the Town Crier witnessed at least two dogs running and playing in the park, which includes a children’s playground, without being restrained by leashes.

In talking with residents walking their dogs near the park most admitted to letting their animals run free, but many say they try to be as responsible as possible.

Tamara Caplan says she only lets her dog Herzl off his leash if they are alone.

“This is a stupid place to leave your dog off-leash,” she says. “If there are enough designated areas in the city to leave your dog off-leash, then why should your dog ever be off-leash in an on-leash area?”

Residents who wish to allow their dogs to roam free have two nearby legal options as both Sir Winston Churchill Park and Boulton Drive Parkette have off-leash areas.

Caplan says she doesn’t use the fenced in dog area at Winston Churchill because she says it’s small and isn’t safe.

“You’re allowed to have six dogs as a dog walker,” she says. “So they’ll bring them [to the park], sit on a bench and their dogs will go crazy on another dog.”

President of the Rathnelly Area Residents Association Pam MacDonald says she plans to work with dog owners and non-dog owners to establish a set of locally agreed guidelines for off-leash use and a way to monitor their success.

However, whatever the residents decide, Pump Park cannot become an official off-leash area without city approval.

“If you let your dog off-leash you are doing it at your own risk,” MacDonald says.

Tom Lees, a resident who doesn’t own a dog, says the solution doesn’t need to be so political.

“Rather than instituting rules, live and let live,” he says. “We’re all neighbours here.”

About this article:

By: Nicole Witkowski
Posted: Feb 11 2013 1:51 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto