EDITORIAL: City’s off-leash dog areas need to expand

Dogs need a place in the wilderness—even if it is urban wilderness—where it is OK to run without a leash.

The Police Beat column that ran in the Alberni Valley News last week about walking dogs off leash on city trails has caused some concern and a flurry of opinions from dog owners.

Many people who own dogs have complained that the fines seem unfair, as they have been walking trails inside the city’s boundaries with their dogs off leashes for years and have never been told they can’t.

RCMP Inspector Mac Richards said in the column that the bylaws affect city-owned trails only, not those within the boundary of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

We understand both sides of the story: dog bites and dog fights from animals that are not leashed are frightening and painful for all concerned. Even dogs that are friendly can be startled by someone coming around a corner on a path and react instinctively.

We are fortunate that the City of Port Alberni created an off-leash dog park in the first place, but we feel it isn’t enough.

Dogs need a place in the wilderness—even if it is urban wilderness—where it is OK to run without a leash.

It’s time for the city to come up with a suitable place. Designate a trail where it is OK for owners to take their dogs without a leash, and mark it so people who don’t care to encounter off-leash dogs will be forewarned.

Until that time, it is up to dog owners to obey the leash laws that are in place. While your dog might be friendly, or good with children, you don’t know whether other dogs are friendly or whether children are good with other people’s dogs.

— ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS