Port Alberni has a fantastic combination of weather and trail systems. These two factors have resulted in the trails being high utilized by a combination of users.
Often the trails have to accommodate different user types. It is essential that everyone works together to make the trail system enjoyable and safe for everyone.
An issue that continues to cause problems for trail users is that of dogs. The largest issue has centred on unleashed dogs. Unleashed dogs have been responsible for biting both other trail users and other dogs.
The City of Port Alberni has a bylaw specifically to address pet issues, the Animal Control and Pound Bylaw, No. 4593. Under Section 17(c)..no owner of a dog shall permit or allow the dog to be in a public place unless the dog is kept on a leash, chain or tether not exceeding 183 centimetres (six feet) in length and the dog is under the immediate care and control of a competent person.
The only public place in which a dog may be off leash is at the designated dog park.
The bylaw also defines a vicious dog as one which has killed or injured an animal or human or one who has aggressively chased or threatened an animal or human. Section 23 dictates that vicious dogs must be muzzled and under control of a competent person.
Under Section 20, if an animal defecates in a public place it is the person having care for the animal that shall immediately remove the excrement and dispose of it in a sanitary manner.
The Bylaw provides for fines of $100 for each offence of being off leash, $50 for failing to remove excrement and $500 for failing to muzzle vicious dogs. Additionally, dog owners can be held civilly responsible for the damage caused by a dog bite.
Often I hear that “my dog is friendly” or something similar. Unfortunately, these dog too can lash out and bite a person or another dog. Only by everyone working together and following the safety rules of having pets on leach and under control will be make the trails safe.
Insp. Richards is the Officer in Charge at Port Alberni RCMP.