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Dog ambassadors cruise parks

They will be hard to miss this summer with their bright colours and smiling faces.

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan dog ambassador team are becoming familiar faces around the areas beaches and parks, but are not enforcement officers of bylaws.

Spokesperson for the RDCO, Bruce Smith says they do not hand out tickets, they are there as a resource and a positive source of information for dog owners.

“You might say they are a dog owners best friend.”

Home for the summer from the University of Calgary Kylie Wilson works alongside one other dog ambassador from May until the end of August.

“It’s been really positive so far, we’ve been really happy about that,” says Wilson. “Everyone is seemingly really appreciative to receive information and support from us.”

Although there is the odd dog owner, perhaps from out of the district, who isn’t acquainted with the RDCO’s dog bylaws. That is when Wilson and her counterpart will politely introduce themselves to let the dog owner know which part of the bylaw they might not be following.

“We’ll give them some information on why that part of the bylaw is and then answer any questions they might have,” she says, which is better than the alternative; receiving a ticket from a by law officer for an infraction.

Smith explains most people are doing the right thing, making sure their dogs are on leash, on beaches or sand, or in areas where they are not allowed, such as the grass at City Park.

“The dog ambassadors give dog owners the opportunities to know about areas where the dogs are allowed, such as off leash dog parks or dog beaches like the Cedar Creek Dog Beach,” Smith says.

New to the Regional District this year, the dog ambassador program is unique to the Okanagan although Nanaimo apparently is the only other location in the province with a similar agenda.

“It stems from the 2012 dog service review that was done that resulted earlier this year in our new responsible dog bylaw,” Smith explains. “It also recommended that as one of the initiatives we take to engage the public in a positive way is to have dog ambassadors.”

Keep your eyes peeled for the brightly coloured duo this summer and if the program is well received the hope is they will return next year with more than just two members to assist the team.

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