Letters to the Editor: True facts need to be known about Toronto’s unleashed dogs campaign

A sign lets dog owners know that dogs are prohibited from being on Woodbine Beach from March 31 to Nov. 1.

Re: ‘Unleashed dogs focus of city campaign,” News, Beach Metro Community News, Aug. 22.

I thought it wise to comment on this article as the readers of Beach Metro Community News need to be more fully informed on this issue.

The wordings of some of this story’s content have prompted me to offer the proper information.

This “city campaign” is an annual event, however it might or should be more elevated due to the increased amounts of incidents.

The news conference could not have been more any more poorly organized with no notice, advertising (other than the day that it took place) and no literature was handed out.

The story says “bylaw enforcement officers regularly monitor parks…” This comment of “regular” is far too vague, especially at Ashbridges Bay Park as one of the most notorious parks for unleashed dogs.
Even Woodbine Beach with new signs stating NO Dogs from April 1-Nov. 1 could not be any more ignored.

As you know I’m a frequent user of the park and I can’t remember the last time I saw bylaw officers in the park. There were officers there in the spring around the Dune and Meadow Habitat thanks to constant requests, but lately these visits by bylaw officers have ended. It’s been years since I’ve seen bylaw officers in the park — so if they call that “regular”, it sure isn’t my understanding.

The fines might very well be $365 but more often than not, these fines get reduced and the majority of the cases get thrown out of court due to privacy issues.

There’s a huge difference between those that do get charged as compared to convicted.

As for the comment by Jasmine Herzog (the manager of the enforcement and mobile response unit at Toronto Animal Services) asking people to come forward and share evidence; this in my mind is called deflection.

In recently providing the City of Toronto with license plate numbers of irresponsible dog owners as requested by 311 I have now found that there is no follow-up by bylaw.

Although this article provides awareness, and even though a four year old knows a dog should be on a leash, not until the City of Toronto provides Special Constables who do have the authority to apprehend violators will any of this change.

My old estimate of 83,000 dogs off leash in the year 2017 in only the southern portion of Ashbridges Bay Park with one ticket given to an irresponsible dog owner provides the true state of affairs.

Here is even more information (and I must add that this information comes from my conversations with bylaw) that your readers should know:

1.) The hunting and killing of wildlife could also be mentioned – foxes on the Boardwalk the last few years, mink families being wiped out at Ashbridges Bay Park and the purposeful daily regular hunting by the same dog owners of birds at the Dune and Meadow Habitat

2.) There are about 30 bylaw officers in all of Toronto, not all working at the same time. Bylaw considers dog related issues as one of their lowest priorities.

3.) What I’ve always wondered about is on one hand our taxes go to pay bylaw officers to enforce the laws that are in place, but they cannot carry out their jobs as they aren’t given the proper authority to properly ID and charge offenders. So your and my taxes are totally wasted while on the other hand these off-leash dog parks(that are obviously needed) cost on average $270,000 to build and on average require $10,000 maintenance every year for our close to 80 off-leash dog parks in the city. The total amount of money spent on dog parks since their inception 25 years ago comes to roughly $40,000,000!

And yet the dog owners are asking for improvements to these dog parks! A recent Freedom of Information request to Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation to attain these true amounts came back with their reply that they don’t have records for these! How can that be? Their excuse was since Toronto amalgamated that this data was lost.

These are the facts or at least what I’ve been told by city staff. Hopefully your readers will now understand the true facts.

Clyde Robinson


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3 comments

This letter by Clyde about off-leash dogs hits the nail on the head. Clyde has given us information that we would not otherwise have access to. Kudos also to Beach Metro for publishing it.

Could not agree more with the commentary above.
This is but another example of the city deflecting their responsibility to the task and taxpayers.
We walk the The Beach on a daily basis to which we could count on 3 fingers the number of times that we have seen a by-law enforcement officer in the 3 years that we have lived in the area.
Unfortunately, the only solution to enforce the bylaws is to patrol and fine to the extent that people understand the financial consequence.
Nothing has changed since the little media snippet.

There are thousands of dogs in the Beach. As a dog owner I agree dogs need to be leashed but the number of unleashed as opposed to the number of leashed is not as many as you imply. During the winter we are allowed to off leash on the beach.There are hundreds of law abiding owners. Why is this not applied to cats. It is also illegal for them to run wild. Yet people feel it is their right to allow their pets to kill birds and deficate where they wish. My dog was recently ill from eating cat feces in my backyard. We almost had to take him to the vet for an expensive visit before we realised a neighbours cat was leaving their feces in our backyard. I pick up after my dog but cat owners feel free to let their cats poo anywhere. With the coyotes in the area I do not understand why people leave their pets to be attacked.

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