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Resident pushes for stricter dog walking controls

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

An Oshawa resident is looking to make changes to the pet owner’s bylaw for the safety of both dogs and their owners.

Eric Vice approached the city in April 2019 looking to amend the Responsible Pet Owner’s Bylaw 14-2010 with two main concerns: children walking dogs without sufficient physical control, and those who do not retain control of a leash that is attached to a dog.

“Anyone walking a dog in Oshawa must be of sufficient mass and physical strength to control the dog in question and that when the dog is on-leash that a human being that meets those requirements must be holding the leash or have the leash attached to them,” he writes in his letter to the city.

In his letter, Vice spoke of seeing kids who don’t have the strength to properly handle their dog should an instant arise.

“I see kids who don’t have the strength to do a pull-up walking a dog that could literally tow them face-down across the asphalt if they wanted to,” he says.

As well, Vice says too many people are attaching the leash to their dog and letting it go rather than take hold of it to be able to control their pet.

“Their rationale is ‘the dog has a leash attached so I’m in compliance with the bylaw,’’’ he writes.

The problem he says is simple.

“People love their dogs. Yes. That’s the problem,” he explains. “Like the star child who can do no wrong, people believe that their dogs are “good enough” to not be restrained.”

He notes while that may be true in most circumstances, it’s not the case for the one who does require the leash, which he says can create a “dangerous situation.”

However, according to the city’s corporate services committee, Vice’s concerns regarding the bylaw are “appropriately addressed through existing standards.”

The Responsible Pet Owner’s Bylaw 14-2010 regulates the care and control of animals across the city, and includes pet licences, animal control orders, running at large, exemptions and offences, and animal welfare, among other items.

In regards to running at large, the bylaw states, “in reference to an animal, means being found in any place other than the animal owner’s premises and not under the physical control of any person; in reference to a dog and in addition to the criteria in paragraph 1.29(a), includes not restrained by means of a leash not exceeding two (2) metres in length; includes an animal to which subsection 14.5 (the surrendering of animals to a person as directed by an animal control order) relates; and includes an animal in respect of which a person has not complied with paragraph 24.14(g) (animals not being kept in conditions that could pose a risk to the animal’s health or safety).”

Furthermore, section 24.2 of the bylaw states it is an offence for an animal to be running at large.

“Running at large includes, without limitation, any situation where an animal is not under the physical control of any person,” the report reads. “This would apply to a person such as a child who is unable to restrain the animal or a situation where the leash is not being held by an individual in control.”

As a result of the review of the bylaw, the corporate services committee will be recommending to council that Municipal Law Enforcement and Licencing Services work with Corporate Communications to develop a plan to increase awareness of the running at large regulations.