When Susan Spencer and Don Curren started managing the Swap and Shop at Western Speedway in April, they found themselves cleaning up a lot of dog poop.
Each Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. between 1,000 and 3,000 bargain hunters hand loonie admissions to Spencer and Curren. It’s not uncommon for dozens of dogs to be at the track at any given moment.
“Ninety per cent of the dogs are wonderful. It’s just a few that aren’t,” Spencer said. “They spoil it for the rest.”
Those bad dog owners have prompted the managers to ban dogs on the flea market grounds after July 31. Spencer and Curren are requesting people leave their dogs at home, not in their vehicles.
Spencer and Curren are dog lovers themselves and have a four-year-old border collie named Celine, who stays at home during the swap and shop.
Spencer often finds herself cleaning up pet waste a few times each Sunday.
“People’s dogs do their business on the track and they don’t clean it up,” she said.
A minority of dog owners ruining it for the rest is a growing problem in Langford. Just before the summer, the Sooke School District banned dogs from its school fields at all times, citing high volumes of abandoned dog droppings, particularly at Ruth King elementary.
At the long-running flea market, most dogs are calm, happy and obedient, but there are a few owners who have struggle to control their pets.
Some dogs have been aggressive and have scared patrons and vendors, Spencer said. One dog ran around the woman’s legs as she was shopping.
“A woman got tangled in a long leash and tripped,” she said. “There are so many dogs here, there is a potential for injury.”
With the dog ban coming into play, Spencer said they have had some complaints from dog owners, but more patrons have said, “It’s a about time.” She’s not worried about losing customers, but she is worried about people leaving dogs in vehicles while they shop.
“There are a lot better places to socialize your pets other than walking on the pavement for two hours.”