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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Doggone debate takes 2-week break in Saanich

Dog owners say the Saanich council needs to take more than a two-week pause to assess the public’s perception of a proposal to limit areas where pets can roam freely in district parks.

Mark Brennae
September 14, 2023
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Doggone debate takes 2-week break in Saanich

Dog owners say the Saanich council needs to take more than a two-week pause to assess the public’s perception of a proposal to limit areas where pets can roam freely in district parks.

Mark Brennae
Sep 14, 2023
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Doggone debate takes 2-week break in Saanich

Dog owners say the Saanich council needs to take more than a two-week pause to assess the public’s perception of a proposal to limit areas where pets can roam freely in district parks.

Mark Brennae
September 14, 2023
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Doggone debate takes 2-week break in Saanich

A group representing dog owners says the Saanich council needs to take more than a two-week pause to assess the public’s perception of a proposal to limit areas where pets can roam freely in district parks.

“We think the whole thing, all the recommendations, need to be scrapped and a community advisory committee needs to be put together to work through what needs to happen,” Eulala Mills, interim president of the CRD DOGG Society, tells Capital Daily.

In June, council approved amendments to its animal bylaw, requiring all pets visiting Saanich parks either be on-leash or in a designated leash-optional area. Currently, dogs can be off-leash in each of the district’s parks, if they’re under the owner’s control.

Mills, whose group has been fighting Saanich’s People, Pets and Parks Strategy for two and a half years, says the amendments aren’t environmentally friendly.

“If they put this through, and only a third of Saanich dog owners have to drive only three kilometres more to get their dogs off-leash, that’s between two and three thousand metric tons of C02 in the environment, every year.”

Mills says the entire process has been flawed because Saanich didn’t speak with the Indigenous community, people with disabilities, seniors, or dog behaviorists—nor did the district directly consult dog owners.

“They had a broad outreach for the whole community and assumed that would represent everyone.”

Monday night, the canine community had its say with dozens of dog owners appearing at council, which then opted to postpone readings of its amended Animals Bylaw until Sep. 25.

“Council heard from a lot of folks who expressed concerns about the proposed bylaw changes,” Mayor Dean Murdock told Capital Daily.

“For many folks, the proposed changes are too restrictive.”

Mills is one, and she says if the goal is ensuring dogs don’t bother park visitors, council should be more creative, by changing the way dogs are licensed, as an example—in Germany she says, the dog owner is licensed, not the dog. 

There’s a lot of things they could be doing that actually address the issue of owners knowing and having the skills to keep their dogs under control, she said.

“They need to listen to the people who are speaking–they are the majority, they are Saanich,” said Mills, whose group is slated to meet with Murdock next week.

“Ultimately, it’s about sharing space,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, a Saanich councillor, who says he’s been inundated with doggie-related email

“We have a growing city with a growing population and that’s putting growing demand on our parks."

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