Vancouver: A City in Need of Off-Leash Dog Walking Areas

off leash dog parkBased on the Vancouver Sun’s recent article regarding off-leash spaces in Vancouver (or the lack thereof), one thing is for certain: the City of Vancouver desperately NEEDS more off-leash dog walking parks.

In 2011, Vancouver adopted a zero-tolerance approach to dog bylaw infractions, partially in response to a growing number of complaints from concerned Vancouver citizens. The City of Vancouver receives about 4,000 dog complaints per year, and roughly 120 of those are bite complaints (dogs either biting humans or other animals). With some bite injuries causing lifelong repercussions, safety is definitely an issue.

Ever since 2011, the number of tickets issued to dog owners has increased by 30%. Additionally, ticket fines have increased to anywhere between $250 (minimum) and $2000 (maximum), up from the standard $25 fine before 2005. The majority of fines are received by dog walkers caught with their dogs off-leash at Balaclava Park at 29th and Dunbar, George Wainborn Park on Beach Crescent, and Trout Lake in East Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver now employs 12 full-time bylaw enforcement officers who patrol between 8 am and 10 pm. Many Vancouverites have complained of their SWAT team-like tactics, parodied in the Vancouver Sun’s dog busters video, though the City of Vancouver claims to be doing its job to properly protect citizens.

Also increasing since 2011, however, are illicit activities and general disturbances in various parks and grassed areas where dog owners once took their dogs. Studies show that dog owners are much more inclined to frequent community parks and green spaces than non-dog owners, and the presence of dog owners and their dogs significantly decreases the levels of illicit activities and general public disturbances in those areas.

That fact, along with increased pressure from Vancouver dog owners, hasn’t done much to increase the City’s awareness of the growing need for safe, off-leash dog walking parks and green spaces. Plans are slowly coming along to look at resolving some of the issues between off-leash advocates and opponents, but they are not nearly as proactive and responsive as seen in other cities like Surrey and Portland. The issue has definitely taken a backseat.

Vancouver has 35 off-leash areas, but only 16 of those have full-time hours and only 2 are fenced. Since Vancouver is home to approximately 145,500 dogs and over 36% of Vancouver households have a dog, this means that there is only one off-leash park per 17, 200 residents. Compare these statistics with those of Calgary, which has one off-leash park per 7,151 residents. As population increases and more dogs take up residence in the city, the problem is only getting worse.

To find information regarding the City of Vancouver’s Animal Control Bylaws, click here. And to see a map of the off-leash parks in Vancouver, click here.

by Kristen Hovet, Release the Hounds Social Media Manager

(images via Calgary City News Blog and SlackStack)


Check out our 8 steps to an enjoyable leash walk


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