Summertime on Saanich beaches appears to be when many dog owners want what they can’t have.
Case in point: man’s best friend is keeping Saanich pound officers busy at Gyro beach, Cordova Bay beach, Mount Douglas Park beach and Whitehead Park (Prospect Lake), the only four parks in Saanich where these animals aren’t allowed in the summer months.
“It’s about public safety. These are highly utilized beaches and parks when the weather warms up; lots of kids and families,” said Saanich pound inspector Susan Ryan. “It’s only these four parks that restrict dogs in the summer; these four parks, that’s all we’re asking.”
From May 1 to August 31, dogs are prohibited from Gyro beach and Cordova Bay beach after 9 a.m. daily. (At Gyro beach, the animals are allowed west of the stormwater outfall.) Dogs are completely restricted at Mount Doug (in the section of the park north of Mount Douglas Parkway) and at Whitehead Park.
But Ryan says she and her colleagues are running into many dog owners in these spots who knowingly flout the rules and become aggressive and rude when they’re informed that their dog isn’t allowed there.
“Our goal is education – we don’t want to go to that level of giving you a ticket,” she said. “As the resistance is increasing though, we’re just going to give tickets. And it’s not one person every hour, it’s constant. These parks are very well signed. It’s just a constant disregard for the bylaw.”
Having your dog in a prohibited area comes with a minimum $100 ticket.
Pound officers and the Saanich Police Department ask dog owners to avoid these few restricted areas, as they and their animals are welcome at the more than 160 parks in the municipality.
“There are many other beaches and parks where you can be with your dog all year round, off leash,” Ryan said.
Dog-related issues increase exponentially in the summer months. The warm weather bring with it more dog attacks, barking complaints and dogs left in parked vehicles.
“When the days get warmer we get hundreds of emergency calls to rescue dogs whose lives are endangered because they are left in hot cars by their guardians,” said Lorie Chortyk, the BC SPCA’s general manager of community relations. “Many well-meaning guardians leave their dogs unattended in parked cars while they run errands. Tragically, this can lead to serious heatstroke and even death for their pets.”
As for the park restrictions, Ryan says dog owners should make themselves aware of the restrictions and simply be considerate to other users.
“Not everyone likes dogs or is comfortable around dogs. … There’s limited spaces where these people can go that don’t have dogs. Please respect the bylaw and go to one of the 160 other parks that allow dogs,” she said.
A few more dog restrictions
• Between March 1 and Oct. 31, dogs are not allowed on fenced baseball fields.
• Dogs are restricted year round at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary and Quick’s Bottom Park. They are also prohibited from being within 50 metres of King’s Pond at Cedar Hill Park (except when on leash and on the trail).
• Dogs must be on a leash when on the Lochside Trail (around Blenkinsop Lake) or Cedar Hill Park trails, at Royal Oak Burial Park, on school grounds, or within 10 metres of any playground equipment.