Dog walkers, customers oppose proposed limit to off-leash dogs

Dog walkers and customers are voicing concerns ahead of a city council vote that could restrict the number of dogs that may be walked off-leash in the city's dog parks.

City council slated to vote on restricting walkers to 4 off-leash dogs in parks

Several off-leash dogs sit at attention by Saskatoon dog walker Lynsay Haanstra on Friday afternoon. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Professional dog walkers and customers are voicing concerns ahead of a city council vote that could restrict the number of dogs that may be walked off-leash in the city's dog parks. 

It's one of several changes proposed under the city's animal control bylaw.

Under the change, walkers would be limited to having up to four dogs off-leash. 

"The Saskatoon Animal Control Agency has stated owners who bring more than four dogs are less likely to maintain voice or sight command, to remove all their dog's defecation, and manage their dog's behaviour in a timely manner," the city wrote in a report earlier this month.

Andrew Roberts, the city's director of recreation and community development, recently told some city councillors that the proposal stems in part from a recent survey of the public that drew over 600 responses. 

"The primary concern was behavioural management in our dog parks," Roberts said. 

'The dogs listen to her' 

Donna Wasden uses a professional dog walking service, Wolf Pack Adventures, to socialize and tire out her rambunctious yellow Lab, Daisy.

On a leash, "she doesn't get that energy released the same way," Wasden said. 

Wasden worried about the impact of the restriction on Wolf Pack Adventures owner Lynsay Haanstra.

"The dogs listen to her," Wasden said of Haanstra. "So I don't agree with that. I think there are owners that don't have control over their single dog and yet the dog walkers who have experience, who are more in tune to the dogs' behaviour and what they can expect, they have more control than a lot of single owners."

Haanstra herself — who said she was slated to walk seven dogs off-leash Friday afternoon at one park — wrote council with her concerns too. 

"If I am limited on the number of dogs I can walk at a time, it will greatly reduce my income, which may force me out of business," she wrote.

Not as strict as other cities

Councillors on the planning, development and community services two weeks ago voted the change through, after brief discussion.

But city council proper still needs to do a final vote. That's slated for Monday afternoon at city hall.

Even if the law passes, it won't be as restrictive as that in other cities, Roberts said.

"We did look at other municipalities as well," he said. "Calgary is two [dogs off-leash]. Prince George is two."

Toronto requires individuals to obtain a licence to walk four or more dogs, with six dogs being the maximum number that can be walked at a time.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

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