Letters to the Editor: Dogs running off leash in parks such as Ashbridges Bay are a threat to wildlife and native plants

Dogs running off leash are a threat to both wildlife and native plants in parks such as Ashbridge's Bay Park, writes Clyde Robinson.

Re: ‘Schoolyard is not for dogs’, Letters to the editor, April 14.

Just like the writer of the above mentioned letter, I was recently reading the No Dogs sign on another schoolyard when a man exited the schoolyard with his young children behind him, followed by their unleashed dog.

What kind of a lesson is this sending his children?

Yes, it can be a terrifying experience having an animal that behaves aggressively and is not under control, be it for an adult but especially for our children.

It is not the dog’s fault. The owner is responsible for this behaviour. If I were a dog, I’d want to run free, wouldn’t you?

Dogs should be unleashed only in off leash dog parks.

When you say, “It is the height of stupidity, rule-breaking and poor judgement”, it is also against the law.

There are laws in place, be it in the schoolyard, the Boardwalk as you mentioned or anywhere. More tickets for these offences are now being handed out.

Dogs are viewed as predators in the animal world.

Unleashed dogs that are off paths can transmit diseases, and spread the seeds from invasive plants killing our native areas that have no protection. They leave excrement and urine behind.

Even the scent of a dog will stop wildlife from visiting that area. This stops our furry wildlife friends from foraging in that area, and thereby frustrates their normal feeding habits and locations. Off leash dogs can harm and kill wildlife.

Yelling or whistling to corral an off leash dog is disturbing for anyone using the park.

Another reason or example to keep your dog on a leash is when I recently witnessed a young woman that was screaming and becoming frantic as her off leash dog couldn’t resist swimming after a swan, which was getting further away and into deeper water at Ashbridges Bay.

This time of year is especially important to be a respectful citizen and more so in our parks, as wildlife and migratory birds need landing and resting spots and areas to raise their young.

Did you know that Ashbridges Bay Park has listed 250 different types of birds and is considered one of the top 10 birding sites in Toronto by the Toronto Ornithological Club.

The City of Toronto’s bylaw department wants to hear the complaints for any dog related incident so you should call 311, anonymously if you prefer.

Is it too much to ask that dog owners be responsible and obey the law?

Neighbourly cooperation is good for everyone, and appreciated by all.

Our flora and fauna will benefit and rebound if given a chance, as what’s being seen nowadays, in our new COVID-19 world.

One thing I’ve always wondered is, since dog owner’s love their dogs so much, why is it that they don’t seem to care or maybe they don’t realize the damage that off leash dogs do to our wildlife friends. Wildlife is the natural and indigenous species.

For further information please refer to the ProtectNatureTo.org website, select Projects, then select Dogs in Natural Areas.

Clyde Robinson

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