Gatineau police are starting an education campaign for pet owners after complaints about dogs being allowed off-leash where they shouldn’t be.

Unless signs specifically allow dogs to roam without a leash in the city’s public parks, owners caught letting their dogs run free face a $162 fine.

Gatineau police said they’re distributing flyers at parks to remind people after an unusually high number of complaints this summer.

“It's not everyone that's comfortable with the presence of un-leashed dogs,” said Sgt. JP Lemay of the Gatineau police.

“Some people are scared of dogs, especially parents with young kids playing in a park.”

Police wouldn’t identify specific parks, saying it’s more of a city-wide issue.

They added that they’re unaware of anyone getting hurt in an encounter with an off-leash dog.

A matter of trust

Dog owners said if they feel comfortable with their dogs going off-leash, they should be allowed to do so.

Frank Wagner Off Leash Gatineau

Frank Wagner said he doesn't see a problem with well-behaved dogs going off-leash in places other than specifically-designated parks. (CBC)

“As long as the dogs are well trained, they come when they're called, they don't pose any threat to other people and as long as you pick up after them, I don't see any problem with that,” said Frank Wagner.

“Not in town…  but if you go (to) an off trail or something, I'll let mine loose too,” said Diane Vestervick.

Others who don’t own dogs said they’d prefer the rules be followed.

“You go in parks and you see dogs running. I'm not for that,” said Danny McAllister.

“There are kids running around and dogs, you never know what they can do.”

“I'm comfortable on a path as long as the dogs aren't loose, but if the dogs were loose I would be really frightened,” said Janet Braham.