Loosen Vancouver's Off-Leash Bylaws

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Off-leash laws in Vancouver are too strict and are cause for a lot of unnecessary tension between the city bylaw officers and the public with dogs. Dog owners are anxious that they will encounter an animal control officer when they are simply trying to get their dogs adequate exercise.

The city does not have sufficient off-leash parks that are within walking distance of many highly populated areas (e.g. Mount Pleasant & East Vancouver are both dead zones for official off-leash areas). This results in many owners taking their dogs to play in unused fields & parks or school fields after hours.

The majority of dogs that are off-leash are friendly and well-behaved and more often than not will not cause any harm to other people or dogs. In addition to that, most dog owners understand that they need to take responsibility on the rare occasion that an incident should arise. With enough training most dogs are able to behave well off-leash in the general public and have good enough recall to avoid accidents for those that don't owners keep them leashed unless in a fenced area.

Bylaw officers following up on unleashed dogs in public areas where there are no other people is a waste of city resources when their time could be put to better use (for example the case of a puppy in Yaletown that was bitten by another dog and almost killed and the city still hasn't resolved this after several months). In some cases bylaw officers have followed dog owners across parks, down alleyways and to their front doors, often in the early hours or after sunset, which is considered harassment under any other scenario.

We propose to the City of Vancouver:

  • Dogs to be allowed off-leash in unused school fields after-hours
  • Dogs to be allowed in unused sports fields during winter months
  • Owners to be allowed the opportunity to apply for an "off-leash license" where they prove to a City of Vancouver representative that their dog is not aggressive and obeys commands when crossing the street and in public areas (this could be for a fee)
  • City of Vancouver to provide more official off-leash areas within 15 min walk of high-density areas
  • That dogs should be allowed to swim in any public body of water October - April