Hinton's Draft Animal Bylaw-"Off leash area's" need to be reconsidered
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In Regards to the new draft animal control bylaw #1119.
In the new Draft it states Limited and outdated in the enforcement. The “Enforcement” of the current bylaws is what has been limited and that is the action that needs to be taken in regards to past incidences having dangerous dogs “at large”.
In the draft it talks about “Off Leash Areas” however, the law only specifies one area that is to be off leash and that is the dog park. In my opinion, off leash dog parks are a breeding ground for incidences. I feel the town is trying to push the issues out of town limits so the problem doesn’t have to be dealt with. The “no off leash area” guidelines only punish the responsible dog owners that we do have here in Hinton because irresponsible dog owners will continue to break the law no matter how many laws are brought in. I for one take my canine anywhere possible with me and my children. Our canines are part of the family and when we are out being active I’d like my family companion with me whether it be taking my children to the park, at a sports field watching my children play, running freely on a gravel trail, biking, or walking the golf course in the winter months. Many mothers go to the golf course because it is easily accessible with a stroller. My “wheeled conveyance” is my stroller, does that mean I cannot take my children with me to take my dog for a walk even on leash? Does this new draft bylaw insinuate I cannot actively do anything with my whole family (by this I mean my dog included)? I find this very sad and honestly makes me not very enthusiastic to live in this town if this is the way the bylaw will go. If a dog is politely sitting on leash by the park while children are playing what is the harm? If the dog is excessively barking and deemed a threat well that's where the bylaw officers job comes into play and they issue a ticket. That's enforcement! I do not want to have to drive 6 km out of town limits to take my children and dog for a leash free walk so we can all be together that's just absurd. Where am I left to train my puppy to be a good citizen if I cannot expose my dog to these situations and surroundings? (At a sports field, children playing at a park, rodeo etc.) Don’t get me wrong I am all for stronger leash control, it is what keeps our dogs safe after all. Higher traffic areas should be “on leash only” as in school grounds, playgrounds, rodeo grounds, paved walkways and the boardwalk. All back trails such as behind the beaver boardwalk, Athabasca trail, and ungroomed trails should be “off leash” but “At your own Risk"! With obvious signage posted. I believe this way the town would not be responsible for incidences should they arise on such trails. It makes the owners have to be accountable. If they choose that risk then so be it. We also need to make reporting to animal control approachable and as Hintonites we want to know we can count on them when we need them. As town council you serve the interests of Hinton's citizens. I urge you to please reconsider the “off leash” new draft bylaw guidelines. Creating new laws on top of the existing ones does not correct the problem.The laws we have in place with some adjustments like i stated in my letter would be sufficient enough IF they are enforced. This would make owners more compelled to abide by the law.
Regards concerned citizen Esther Wolters
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