Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Town of Pincher Creek council discusses pet waste in public spaces

Toni Lucas - Council for the Town of Pincher Creek met on the evening of Monday, January 9, 2017. One of their topics for discussion was the disposition of a December 12, 2016 delegation by Pincher Creek Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Kari Grandoni. As reported here last month, she spoke on behalf of the Pincher Creek Recreation Advisory Committee about the dangers of pet waste in public spaces. After considerable discussion council accepted Grandoni's presentation as information.

Grandoni advocated for a bylaw that would ban dogs from sporting fields, school grounds, playground areas and parks "with the ultimate goal of establishing an off leash park near Pincher Creek."

The Town's Recreation Advisory Committee has also discussed this issue and recommended a multiple phase approach which according to council's meeting minutes would include an "education campaign, installation of more signs and dog bag dispensers and Bylaw enforcement. The focus would be for school fields, parks, ball parks, playgrounds and anywhere children play." Phase 2 would include "allocating certain locations in town as Off-Leash Dog Park/Areas and to review the Animal Control Bylaw No. 1598-08 and provide a recommendation to Council in regards to dogs being on sports fields, playgrounds, school fields, and parks."

In the Town's 2017 budget $30,000 was approved for the development of a dog park based on the Recreation Advisory Committee's recommendation. "Also money has been allocated for additional dog dispensers and signage for pet owners under the parks furniture project. Perimeter fencing for an Off-Leash Dog Park will also be a consideration."

At their January 9 meeting council discussed the potential health risks, peer pressure from responsible pet owners on less responsible pet owners, education, and enforcement.

Councillor Doug Thornton said of the literature presented by Dr. Kari Grandoni outlining some of the health risks "I believe that it is meant to alarm us, because if any of this were really true and prevalent, none of us would have a dog anywhere close." 

"I am certainly in favour of having an off leash park for dogs, but I don't think that it needs to ban our people who like to take dogs out to a sports field that's close, on the leash." Thornton said Pincher Creek currently has leash laws. "Let's remember, there is only one species of pet that has to pay a license in the Town Pincher Creek, and that's dogs and their owners." He added that the sports fields do attract other animals who also leave fecal material behind. "I promise you, it's not only dogs that leave excrement." He said he wanted to see more bag and trash receptacle sites for the disposal of waste.

Councillor Mark Barber said he believes veterinarians Grandoni and Dr. Charlie Zachar both believe this is a important issue, as does the Recreation Advisory Council. "I don't think they are worried about the responsible dog owners, I think they are worried about the irresponsible ones, and worried about keeping feces off the fields that the kid are playing on." 

Councillor Wayne Elliott said even responsible pet owners have issues with dogs running away, likening them to children. "Where do they want to go? The places they can't go. They all do."

Mayor Don Anderberg said "We've discussed some issues around the dog park, and we do have some budget in place now so they can move ahead and see what they can do with that issue."

Councillor Lorne Jackson said many owners are responsible, and mentioned someone he knew was blind who was very responsible with their service dog's pet waste, and would also pick up other pet waste when he came across it. "Something to think about, when you see someone else that's totally able to see their dog, and what they are doing... I think about that fellow."

Councillor Duane Filipuzzi said "I don't want to see it get so restrictive, to the point where you question why you even have an animal." Later Filipuzzi reiterated "To restrict animal owners to the point where they can't take their dog along, on leash with them, to watch their kid play soccer or whatever... I think we are getting a little bit too restrictive on animal owners."

Council received the delegation's report as information.

Updated with additional information.

Related story:
Pet waste in public spaces a concern for Pincher Creek Recreation Advisory Committee

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