Shubie Park sign irks pet owners who say barking is normal

A new sign in an off-leash area at Shubie Park in Dartmouth tells dog owners to control their pets' barking, saying it disturbs the neighbours.

'Please do not use this area if you can't control your dog's barking,' says new municipal sign

Dog owners say Shubie Park is busier than ever, so it's hard to control dogs barking. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

A new sign in an off-leash area at Shubie Park in Dartmouth tells dog owners to control their pets' barking, saying it disturbs the neighbours. 

That's not going over well with some owners, who say their pets should be allowed to play.

Michelle Connolly, who visits the park several times a week with her dogs, said the idea of controlling a dog's barking is "ridiculous."

"It's kind of hard to control what your dog barks at and when they bark. It depends on what they see," she said.

"We're at a dog park so the dogs should be able to be dogs," Garett Rhynard said while visiting the park with his dog, Ivan, on Saturday. 

The sign went up in the park a few months ago, after years of noise complaints from people who live nearby who said the barking is incessant and a nuisance. 

"If your dog barks, it can disturb neighbours and other park users," the municipal sign reads. 

"Please do not use this area if you can't control your dog's barking."

Municipal staff were unavailable for an interview Saturday.

Some people walking their dogs say the new municipal sign is 'ridiculous.' (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

'Going on all the time'

Heather Stubbert and her family's backyard borders the park. She said in the last three or four years, the park has become busier, with the off-leash area packed on most nice days. She said dogs are barking "from sunup to sundown." 

"Really, in the summer we don't use our yard without putting an iPod in our ears," Stubbert said.

"You become very sensitive to the noise because it's going on all the time. My husband avoids the yard altogether."

Stubbert said she and the other people who live on her street have met with municipal councilors and asked to have the off-leash area moved to another section of the park. 

"We appreciate that the city has heard us and that they've taken the step of putting the signs up," she said.

"Unfortunately, it hasn't made a difference because the dogs don't read the signs and the owners, frankly, don't pay attention to them."

Neighbour Heather Stubbert says it's difficult to enjoy her family's backyard due to non-stop barking. (CBC)

Sign going unnoticed

Many dog owners visiting the park said they didn't notice the sign asking them to control their dog's barking. 

Shubie Park is one of few options for people who want to walk their animals off-leash, some dog owners said.

Last year, the Halifax Regional Municipality made Africville Park an on-leash area, while opening a replacement off-leash area on Westridge Drive. 

"We're very limited in HRM," dog owner Erika Procter said.

"We don't have a lot of places to take dogs, so we definitely need somewhere — and if they're going to bark, you're going to hear them."

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