End of school is here! As a mum of two young boys, we live at our little park. Dogs pass through with their owners enjoying an evening walk, the kids are playing grounders and building sand castles, and the parents are unwinding from a hectic day at work and after school activities. Our neighbourhood is clean and we try to keep our park as clean and safe for our children as best we can.
Except: What if a neighbour lets their 90 lb unneutered male dog out without a lead and allows him to run through the park? What if the owner proceeds to take their time coming out of the house to yell at us that he is friendly?! Everything might be fine, or he might attack a little 2-year-old running in the park.
As parents, we have to make the decision to let our children around dogs or not. But because children are children, they see a dog and they automatically want to go and pet the animal. As a veterinary technician and a mum, I have taught my boys not to go up to animals who are not on a lead and to always ask the owners if they can pet them.
Then there is the risk if owners let their dogs run through the park and proceeds to defecate in the grass area. As the kids will play baseball and soccer in the playing area, parents are usually doing sweeps for mountains of fecal material in order to keep their kids from dirty shoes and potential health risks. These risks can include parasites, bacterial infections, and fungal infections.
Our job as pet owners is to care for our animals, keep them safe and healthy and to follow the rules and laws of owning a pet. There are signs posted in all Municipal Parks stating to keep your dogs on lead and to scoop their poop. As responsible parents and members of the community, it is also our job to ask pet parents to follow the rules when we see a loose dog or someone not cleaning up their pet’s waste.
When someone lets their dog off leash and does not clean up after, who can we call? The municipality or animal services is a great start, and they can advise on what to do, or send a bylaw officer to the area and ensure people are following the proper protocols.
Our parks are awesome spaces for us, our children, and leashed pets to play, feel safe and have fun. Pet parents need to remember that off leash activities are only for designated off leash areas or dog parks, which are great! It is important for everyone to follow the rules to keep the park safe and clean for everyone to enjoy. That includes parents, pet owners, and other community members. That way, we all can enjoy the many great parks and green spaces in our neighbourhood!