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Leash law to see boost in enforcement

Dog owners who let Rover off-leash outside the 63 off-leash areas in Toronto parks this summer may get a reminder of up to $360. Bylaw officers and local police are teaming up to better enforce leash rules after a spike in complaints.

In the last six months, city staff have received over 400 complaints about off-leash dogs in parks — more than triple the complaints made in all of 2013.

A dog walks off-leash along the boardwalk at Woodbine Beach Park. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

A dog walks off-leash along the boardwalk at Woodbine Beach Park.
FILE PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

“People enjoy pets. We’d just like to see a lot more owner responsibility,” says John DeCourcy, who became the city’s new director of bylaw enforcement this January after 33 years with the Toronto Police Service.

DeCourcy said the city recognizes that dogs need exercise and a chance to play with other dogs, which is why it has designated 63 off-leash areas and made it easier to request new ones. Speaking on July 17, the first day of the stepped-up summer patrols, he said officers will start in parks that get the most complaints. About 75 fines have been laid this year for dogs “running at large.”

In the Beach, dogs can go off-leash in a fenced area by the Leuty Lifeguard Station, or on the beaches between Silver Birch Avenue and the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant. There are four parks with off-leash areas in the Upper Beach and Beach Hill neighbourhoods, and another three in East Danforth.

Last spring, city council considered adding early morning and late evening “courtesy hours” when dogs would be able to go off-leash in some parks that don’t have a permanent off-leash area.

The city ran an online survey about that idea and other dog policies. It got 3,041 responses, about two-thirds of which came from dog owners. Owners and non-owners were split, with about 80 per cent of owners in favour and 70 per cent of non-owners opposed. And while both groups agreed Toronto parks need more bylaw officers – only eight of the city’s 125 bylaw officers are tasked with parks enforcement – 91 per cent of dog owners voted against adding an extra $5 to dog licence fees to pay for them.

City council has yet to revisit the courtesy hours idea since the survey was done last May.

1 Responses »

  1. So glad to read this. In my area alone there have been two incidents involving attacks from dogs not on leash or owner did not muzzle. one bit a neighbor seriously enough our Landlord got the tenant evicted or they just moved because how upset the tenant across the hall from us was.
    Now in past two days a building right next door to us some yahoo regularly takes out 3 dogs varying sizes ... the pitbull or whatever the hell breed it was came up to me when I was taking out the garbage and owner managed to get it to back off by voice alone.

    I contacted the super of that building in person as the owner obviously doesn't care about leash laws or picking up after his dog(s) take a dump on the lawn.
    It also approached my superintendent while he was weeding or doing some work around the building.
    The superintendent of the offending party acted as if he had no knowledge.
    Ultimately, I will not hold the Super responsible unless it ever attacks my wife or me or anyone in this building. The responsibility lies with the negligent dog owner.

    I see many other people out with their dogs, some breeds that don't worry me as much as these guards types. They don't seem to have an issue having at least a leash on their animals.
    Can anything be done short of going to small claims court to deal with this rising nuisance in our neighborhood?

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