I’d like to thank you readers for your responses to my last column on leashing your dog. It is a special reward when people reach out to thank you for bringing awareness to something that can affect them deeply, yet might not even occur to the other party.
One point that was repeatedly asked was if there was any law about leashed dogs on public sidewalks, and whether the dog/owner were required to give right of way to a pedestrian. There is no law requiring that (although should there be an incident, the dog owner is responsible), common courtesy would suggest it, especially if the pedestrian has a small child or is exhibiting fear. Not every dog owner walking their dog on leash will pick up on this issue every time, but hopefully they are aware enough of their surroundings to do the civil thing, and restrain their animal while the other party passes.
Speaking of picking up on things, its that time again. Poop Awareness Week, or PAW for short. No, its not a real thing, but it should be.
Too many people still allow their dogs to use public and private property as their washrooms, and too many of them don’t pick up afterwards. Really, there is no good excuse for this behaviour, it is just downright rude and disrespectful to your fellow citizens, and even to other dogs.
There are by-laws that carry hefty fines for non-compliance with this. Our local “Responsible Pet Ownership By-Law” that I quoted last column ( https://winnipeg.ca/cms/animal/pdfs/RPO.pd f) has section 4 (1) f that states: “where the dog defecates on any property other than the property of the owner, cause the excrement to be removed immediately and disposed of in a sanitary manner”. Failure to do so can carry a fine of $400! And that is the law.
Having appropriate “pick up” materials in your pocket is not tough. Poop bags come in convenient rolls, and in dispensers that fit in your pocket or attach easily to your leash. Some leashes even have built in poop bag holders. The bags themselves come in various sizes depending on your pet’s expected output. Smaller bags for small dogs or ones eating raw food, larger ones for the loveable “mini-horses” out there. They also come in a variety of colours for the fashion conscious, and in scented formats for people looking to mask the smells.
Most purpose made bags are now bio-degradable, so that is not an issue with the environment. Some people still use grocery shopping bags which usually are not bio-degradable, and usually have small holes in them that can lead to a very messy issue.
Off leash parks are not an unlimited outhouse for dogs either. Probably more important that other places, the sheer concentration of animals using these areas means that the potential for spreading disease increases dramatically, and even more if you don’t pick up after.
Many dogs carry pathogens that we don’t even know about. A rescue dog without a complete history might have been exposed to something, like parvo, and while they have recovered and are not symptomatic, they may still harbour the virus, and expel it in their poops. Should a dog that is vulnerable happen upon fecal packet left behind from such an animal, they can easily contract the disease. This is why puppies that have not completed their vaccination schedule yet should avoid areas where adult dogs congregate.
It not only the polite thing to do, but it can also be a lifesaver. Be a good neighbor and a responsible pet owner; be prepared, have a bag handy, and pick it up.