After her toddler snagged her neck, a Toronto mother is calling out 'dangerous' retractable dog leashes
Toronto bylaws stipulate dog leashes must not exceed two metres
The mother of a toddler who caught her neck on a retractable leash is calling on dog owners to stop using the devices.
Ola Sivan's three-year-old daughter Emilia was riding a scooter towards the entrance to Kew Gardens Park on Sunday when she hit the leash.
"My daughter is scootering and suddenly she stops abruptly and her head jerks back," Sivan recalled.
Sivan said a woman was standing near the road with her small dog at the end of a retractable leash. Sivan believes Emilia didn't see the thin cord and struck it with force.
"Her neck was swollen and red, almost bleeding and she's screaming," Sivan said. "If she was going at a higher speed, I don't even want to think about what could have happened."
The woman using the cord did not apologize, Sivan said. Instead, she suggested Emilia pay more attention to where she's going.
Leashes restricted to two metres
Sivan posted a photo of Emilia's injury on a local Facebook group, urging dog owners to reconsider using that type of leash.
The post has received more than 100 comments.
She says the thinness of retractable cords makes them essentially invisible when fully extended. And as a former dog owner, she worries they offer too little control over an animal.
"These leashes are dangerous and unnecessary," she said.
While Toronto bylaws stipulate that dog leashes cannot exceed two metres, many pet stores sell retractable leashes that are many times longer.
Sivan would like to see stronger bylaw enforcement to deal with owners who break the bylaw.
Dog owners debate
At a park in The Beach, some dog owners shared concerns about retractable leashes.
David Barbosa uses a six-metre retractable leash with his dog, but says he takes care to watch his surroundings.
"If you have a lot of kids playing, you have to take care, you have to be careful," he said.
Others dog owners echoed that warning, but added that retractable leashes can be appealing.
"It's hard," said Regine Maranian, who opts for a thicker, shorter leash. "You want to exercise your dog you want to be able to roam around but you also have to be a conscious owner and be aware of where you're walking your dog and aware of who's around."
But like many dog owners, she knows retractable leashes can do real damage.
"Even if they get caught around your own leg, they hurt," Maranian said.
With files from Greg Ross