Nicole Simone watched five hours pass as toy poodles continued to cry on a condo balcony, their fur shrunken by rain while a half-dozen neighbours and a security guard tried to contact the owners.
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Simone called security and the police on that summer day, but she said she's since learned there's no specific time limit on how long animals can spend alone on balconies or terraces in Toronto.
The Toronto photographer hopes to change that, launching a petition Friday calling for a bylaw that would prohibit owners from leaving dogs unattended for more than an hour on balconies. It garnered more than 700 signatures over the weekend.
"Dogs in those situations can face unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, they could get distracted and fall off the balcony, or get injured and die," she said in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "It devalues the property, as well. Nobody likes to look at a building [or] buy a condo where there's dogs just living on balconies."
The problem has been emerging as more people own pets in high density parts of the city, Simone said, recalling reports of a dog left on a Liberty Village condo balcony in sub-zero temperatures earlier this month. People turned to Twitter to voice their frustrations. According to Twitter posts, police got involved in order to bring the dog inside.
Toronto's animal cruelty bylaw does say that pets, other than cats, cannot be left outside for more than 30 minutes without a weather-proofed shelter and access to water.
But Simone said that she wants to see that go further so that animals cannot be left out indefinitely on balconies — hoping for legislation similar to that passed in Mississauga, which limits backyard tethering to four hours. In this case, she wants it kept to an hour.
"So those people whose neighbours are neglecting their dogs 24/7 on their balconies, they now have the power to call and Toronto can do something about it rather than watching a dog live in a poor condition on a consistent basis."
Simone said she plans to approach several city councillors about the petition in the coming weeks before presenting it to council.