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Off-leash dogs a problem in Alberta parks

Dogs and their companions are in trouble for going off-leash in Alberta provincial parks. reported that two cases of people allowing their dogs off-leash against park rules have resulted in bans from the parks for the dogs and fines of $750 and $575 for their companions. This is a hot topic for dog lovers, as it’s clear that our canine family members have a need or instinct to run and sniff and play, but we also have to keep them safe and within rules that protect all of society and nature.

Here are some facts and questions to consider on this issue:

  • Dogs can and do harass wildlife. Even though they’re cuddly friends to us, to many people and other animals dogs are a predator or threat. While dogs certainly love chasing squirrels, is it fair to the squirrels to have to deal with that stress and fear?
  • Dogs can start or cause conflict with wildlife that also impacts people. It is documented that off-leash dogs can lead bears to their companions or harass coyotes, skunks, and porcupines into self-defense. Wildlife often gets blamed in these cases.
  • Dogs are asked to give up a lot of who they are to live in our society as it is. Drs. Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce talk about this in their book Unleashing Your Dog (hear from Dr. Marc Bekoff on Defender Radio). Are there ways we can help dogs express themselves and meet their needs that keep everyone (including non-human animals) safe?
  • Some communities have fenced off-leash areas and non-fenced off-leash zones. But not all dogs do well with this kind of socialization and not all communities have access to them.

What do you think some solutions can be to make sure dogs get to be who they are while still being respectful and protecting wildlife and natural areas?

Michael Howie

Michael Howie is an international award-winning journalist whose background includes work for Torstar, Metroland, and other magazines and publications. He is the producer and host of The Young Defenders podcast, host of the popular Defender Radio podcast, the writer of The Fur-Bearers’ blogs, and contributes to various online publications on behalf of The Fur-Bearers. He is also the primary manager of The Fur-Bearers' social media platforms. Michael has successfully managed a political campaign, worked with various non-profits as a strategic communicator, and performs in the popular End of Times and Other Bothers improvised comedy podcast. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

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