COLUMN: Leash your dog so I don’t have to leash my kids

Irresponsible dog owners can leave a parent questioning whether their kids can roam safely

I’m walking down a path in the park with my kid when an unleashed dog trots toward us. He’s going the other direction. His owner is 10 yards or so behind.

The dog comes toward us, and pauses. My kids hop away in fear. I’m within arm’s length put my hands on their shoulders. The dog’s owner tells me his pup loves kids. And his dog, without licking my kid or, really doing much of anything, trots away.

The owner continues on too, probably oblivious to my death stare.

Look, I get why a dog owner might think it harmless that he lets his dog roam freely. After all, if his dog is like most dogs, it’s friendly. Maybe it’s not even friendly. Maybe it’s so well-trained that it doesn’t bat an eye at a passing two-year-old.

And I like dogs. I know they’re mostly all very good boys.

But my kids are not comfortable around dogs. My youngest is getting better, but he still sometimes recoils in fear when one gets near.

And if that dog is on a leash, well, that’s on my son to deal with.

But your off-leash dog? Well, that’s a dog that doesn’t just strike fear into my kids’ hearts but also forces me to make important parental decisions.

You know your dog is going to pass my kids without a second thought, and you may know it isn’t going to bite at my son if he swats its nose away.

RELATED: Dog attack sends Abbotsford man to hospital: “Flaps of his beard were just hanging by the skin”

But while we parents know your dog is probably a good dog, we don’t know that for sure.

And when we don’t know that for sure, it means we have to be on high alert when an unleashed dog approaches. It means we can’t give our sons and daughters the freedom to roam that they need to be kids.

It means, the kids need to be within arms’ length in case your dog is one of those that are aggressive. Remember, we don’t know you and we don’t know your dog. All I know is that you’ve decided to break one of the fundamental rules of dog ownership: keep your dog on a leash in a park – particularly one where kids may roam. I think I’m within my rights to assume you may have also neglected other important parts of owning a dog.

And yes, I know the places dogs can roam are limited these days. It’s true, B.C.’s cities could use more dog parks – it certainly has the room for them, and they are not particularly expensive to create.

If you live in an apartment or a small townhouse like me, I sympathize. The main reason my family doesn’t yet have a dog is because of a lack of space. But here’s the thing: you didn’t accidentally come into possession of your dog. You know there are limited public places where dogs can run freely. If you still decided to get a dog, then finding it a place to release its energy is on you.

But even that excuse has its limits. I have now, on multiple occasions, gone to one of my favourite local parks, and walked by a large off-leash to the right only to encounter dogs roaming away from their owners in the large public field to my left.

And last week, I was walking alone in the trail network within the forested area adjacent to that off-leash area when a large German shepherd-cross of some sort came running around a corner, barking at me, its owner nowhere to be seen. It was not friendly-looking and I did not feel safe. Our newspaper recently ran a story about a man whose face was attacked by a dog. I waited a good 10 seconds, metres away from the dog, which continued to bark at me before its owner appeared.

I was shaken, but unharmed and furious. My kids love hiking in the park and I to let them run ahead of me and explore the forest trail.

Kids need and deserve areas that feel a world away from the crowded bustle of the city life they know. Irresponsible dog owners don’t.

Tyler Olsen is a reporter at The Abbotsford News

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Province pays $4.08 million for hotel to house fire victims

Purchase will provide 41 units of affordable rental housing for those displaced by the fire.

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Man who bound, murdered Langford teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve plans limited reopening on June 4

The Park Reserve shut down on March 18 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Cannabis responsible for higher incomes among Canadian farmers

Without cannabis sales, national crop revenues would have dropped in 2019

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Mid-June earliest for more in-province travel to be authorized

New Vancouver Island airline eyes Alberni’s airport for charter flights

ACRD has work to do to support air operations, says GM of environmental services

VicPD investigating three suspicious dumpster fires

Police ask people to secure waste bins and report suspicious activity

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Boil water notice lifted in Union Bay

The notice has been lifted as of May 27.

Victoria society purchases addiction recovery home after year of fundraising

Umbrella Society’s Foundation House is a second stage house for men in active recovery

Ladysmith centenarian honoured with birthday parade

Kay Rozzano said she’s been looking forward to this birthday ‘for 100 years’

Most Read