EDITORIAL: West Shore isn’t frontier anymore

City of Langford makes plea for pet owners to properly clean up after their animals

For many residents of the West Shore and around the Capital Region, dogs are a big part of their life. And, as animals that need to be exercised – like us – dogs need to be taken out on a regular basis.

The biggest difference between what happens with our dogs and ourselves on those outings around the community is that dogs tend to relieve themselves on whatever green space or bush is close by when the need arises.

The vast majority of owners dutifully clean up after their dogs and deposit the bag into the nearest trash can. But there are still those who either don’t bother to clean up the mess or chuck the bag into the bushes, mistakenly believing it will decompose in a short time.

In years gone by the western communities were largely rural, an almost frontier part of the region where dogs were seldom on leashes and seeing owners gather their dogs’ business – as with other areas – was equally uncommon.

That was then and this is now. Today, very few people on the West Shore would consider opening the door and letting their dog run wild, no matter how remote the park. Rules for municipal and regional parks are clear on when and where dogs are allowed to run free.

Some pet owners might claim that when their dogs are off running, they don’t know where they’re dropping their land mines. Not having your dogs under control, even if they’re not at your side, is no excuse. In fact, the aforementioned rules around dogs in parks acknowledge that not everyone likes dogs or feels comfortable around them.

The Sooke School District has an outright ban on dogs in its schoolyards, for various reasons, but not every pet owner obeys that rule. As such, some schools have found themselves dealing with the challenge of unwitting children tracking dog feces into the building.

While not bagging up what their animal leaves behind is not acceptable behaviour anywhere and shows disrespect for others, doing so in areas clearly marked as no-dog areas is an even greater affront to authority.

As most owners understand, having a dog comes with various responsibilities. Properly cleaning up after them is just one, but it’s the one that potentially affects the most people.