LETTER: Off-leash dog areas not always enjoyed by all

Several residents are calling for dog owners to be more responsible

We read with concern the article in the Saanich News (and online at goldstreamgazette.com) about a yellow lab attacked at Elk Lake by a dog being walked with a pack of off-leash dogs.

The CRD was able to identify the dog and issued a dangerous dog caution as there apparently had been multiple occurrences in the past.

This is the second reported instance in the past couple of months of an off-leash dog attack at Elk Lake.

We are a group of mature active ladies who enjoy brisk walking and biking on trails and in parks in Greater Victoria and the fact that there is no system for ensuring dogs using the off-leash area are under control and/or not dangerous causes us concern.

While many dog owners are responsible and do control their dogs, we have experienced large dogs bounding towards us in various areas in Greater Victoria on several occasions.

When their owners were asked to control their dog(s), their response was either incredulity at the request with the statement it was an off-leash area, or that the dog was friendly (and a total lack of understanding of why someone may not appreciate a large unknown dog bounding up to them) or sadly, an expletive.

It seems to escape some dog owners’ attention that the use of the off-leash area is subject to their animal being under control and is a privilege not a right.

If one has had a hip replacement or other operation and is walking for rehab purposes, large dogs moving at speed can be very threatening and we know of instances where people have been injured requiring use of the health care system as well as funds out of their own pocket for rehab as a result of dogs running into them or their bike.

We request that the CRD and municipalities give consideration to how to better manage our parks and trails so that all residents of the area can enjoy them safely – not just the dog owners.

The owner of the dangerous dog was fined $100 for the attack which seems a paltry sum for someone who knowingly let a dangerous animal be off-leash in a public area used by runners, children and horses.

In our view, the fines for these types of offences should be increased significantly.

E. Bell, Judith Fraser, Dianne Black, Dianne Ridge, Lorraine Kelly, Pam Squires, Penny Marshall, Diane Read, Heather Hall, Bonnie Barnhart

Greater Victoria