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Aug. 3, 2021 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Please don't close Commons to off-leash dogs
Letter

Dear editor: 

The following was sent to Lisa Curtis of Parks Canada in response to the story, "Commons off-leash dog park is under review," The Lake Report, July 1.

It is unfortunate that a positive, i.e. dog-friendly, decision regarding the off-leash area at the Commons in Niagara-on-the-Lake has not yet been made.

It would solve most issues if clearly visible lettered signage (rather than a difficult-to-interpret pictograph) could be installed at both ends of the path in order to clarify the boundary of the off-leash area for people not familiar, and for people riding bikes and scooters, to advise them that off-leash dogs are present and running free.

We walk at the Commons every single day, rain or shine, for over an hour, and only very occasionally meet people who are upset by dogs being off-leash.

Because there is no obvious signage, when dog owners attempt to explain that the area is actually designated as off-leash, animated discussions sometimes occur.

The same thing can occur with people who want to keep their dogs on a leash. They get upset when off-leash dogs approach their dogs to do what dogs naturally do, be social and attempt to initiate play.

These people can easily walk a block away along John Street but for some reason choose to continue to walk in the off-leash area, almost as if they want to create a scene.

Ninety per cent of people who walk at the Commons have dogs and of the few people we meet without dogs, most are happy to see dogs running free and many ask questions about their names, breed, ages, etc. It must be a small but very vocal few who are complaining.

Many dogs and their owners rely on the off-leash path for daily exercise, sometimes several walks daily. Truly, it’s the only local area of its kind. It’s such a pity.

We’re talking about one short, semi-remote half-kilometre in which we’re allowed to exercise our beloved dogs. Many other nearby options are available to the public, with better and safer surfaces on which to walk or ride and are equally picturesque.

NOTL is a walker’s paradise, yet a few people would deprive us of our only option, when they have many others. It’s unfortunate that some people choose to be miserable in general, particularly, it seems, during COVID times.

We acknowledge that dog owners need to be responsible and pick up after their dogs and we call people out who don’t. We often find piles (scat) that have been left by deer, raccoons and coyotes – and someone not familiar might mistake these for dog poop.

We do our best to ensure our dogs don’t chase the lawn mowers, deer or other wildlife but at least their only intention is to play with wildlife rather than having them for dinner, which is what the coyotes intend.

Please, yes, we’re begging, Parks Canada to allow the off-leash path at the Commons to remain. It would be a significant hardship for many to lose it rather than just a small inconvenience to those who want it gone out of what appears to be nothing more than spite.

Brenda and Keith Lord

St. Davids

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