To leash or not to leash?

A delegation of dog owners were at city hall Monday to press their case to allow off-leash dogs at Marshall Field.

The delegation was led by Darlene Hainer who has been walking her dog at the Okanagan Landing park for the past nine years.

Hainer said the area is ideal to walk dogs as it is flat and easy to walk for older owners and older dogs.

While people can walk their dogs on leash, Hainer said dogs need to run free in order to get the exercise they need.

One of the concerns park users have is dogs running on the sports fields and irresponsible owners not cleaning up after their dogs if they do go on the field.

Hainer admitted that does happen, but only by a small minority of dog owners who are giving all dog owners a bad reputation.

Hainer said dog walkers will often pick up after other dogs or point out an owner that their dog has messed on the field and offer them a bag to clean it up.

“We want the park to be clean as much as anyone else,” said Hainer, adding it is in their best interest to keep the park clean.

Hainer said a fence between the sports field at the creek area where the dogs run would mostly solve the issue of dogs on the field.

Of course, there would still be some irresponsible dog owners, but they are by far in the minority.

Councillors Scott Anderson and Brian Quiring were both in support of an off-leash area at the park.

Anderson walks his dog at the park often and noticed most people let their dogs run free – including his dog.

“I don't have a problem with it being off leash so long as it is not on the play field,” added Quiring.

Coun. Akbal Mund said he uses the sports field often and on a 15-minute walk he noticed nine “poops” and two dogs running free on the field.

“There has to be some sort of system there for those irresponsible dog owners. That has to be controlled or I don't see this going anywhere,” said Mund.

Hainer agreed completely, saying irresponsible owners should be fined, but responsible owners should not be punished for the actions of a few.

Council asked for more information on installing a fence and the frequencies of conflicts involving dogs at the park.

The city is suspending fining owners for off-leash dogs, at least temporarily.

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