Park space is to be shared

Saanich News editorial in response to dog walkers blatantly ignoring the rules at Saanich parks

Didn’t we all learn about the importance of empathy and sharing back in kindergarten? It seems silly that Saanich pound officers are having to hand out tickets to dog owners who apparently missed those lessons.

These officers aren’t just getting push back from some owners; every week they’re getting an earful from enraged dog walkers who say that banning dogs from certain parks is unfair, who feel discriminated against, and who say issuing tickets for blatantly disobeying the bylaw is simply a tax grab for the municipality.

Let’s put empathy in a different context.

Just as a lot of people have fears of snakes and bears, there are also many people who are terrified of dogs, big or small.

You might be agitated or upset if somebody let their off-leash boa constrictor slither through the grass at Gyro Park and come up to your family to say hello. You know nothing of that animal’s temperament or how friendly it really is.

Just because dogs are a more acceptable domesticated pet than a snake and you choose to be an animal owner doesn’t give you the right to impact on someone else’s ability to enjoy a public space. Especially if that space is somewhere that has restrictions on animals.

These restrictions give every park user (dog lovers included) a little bit more peace of mind that they, and others, can fully enjoy their time in the sun.

Saanich has more than 160 parks in its stockpile and only six of them don’t allow dogs in the summer. With such an overabundance of dog-friendly parks, there is no reason dog owners need to bring their pet to a restricted area.

Your dog will be just as happy playing at Arbutus Cove beach as it would be playing at Mount Douglas Park beach. Its enjoyment of a public space should not supersede another person’s ability to share that same park.

Empathy doesn’t need to be a deep, emotional movement. It’s as simple as having courtesy for those around us.

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