Dog owners should have pets on leash in urban areas
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 26, 2014
Off-leash dogs in urban areas are not only dangerous to the animal, but also to commuters and pedestrians.
Will the third canine death as a result of jumping over a three-foot-high ledge overlooking Expo Boulevard at BC Place Stadium teach dog owners to keep their pet restrained? I sincerely doubt it. As long as there are dogs, there will be defiant dog owners who believe their “well-trained” animal will never do anything stupid like run into traffic, jump on a child, or—God forbid ever again—leap over a barrier and fall 25 feet.
Now, some can blame the infrastructure for being dangerous, but the area around BC Place Stadium is not an off-leash area and the barrier clearly states that there is a steep drop below. Granted, the dog probably couldn’t read the sign. Now it’s not my intention to sound insensitive, but there is nobody to blame except the owner. Sorry. Learn from the mistake and keep your dog on its leash, especially in urban areas.
Dogs are naturally curious, energetic animals. They are also unpredictable. Dogs have jumped in front of my vehicle more than once while I was driving, causing me to brake hard, narrowly avoiding killing it. The owners run out onto the road, grab the dog, and yank it back onto the sidewalk. They wave, smile apologetically, and I drive off with a sinking feeling in my stomach. When I get upset at pet owners for not keeping their dog on leash, they regard me as someone who hates animals. I don’t hate animals; I’m not a pet person, but I don’t hate animals.
Should an off-leash animal get injured or killed in a public area, it’s not the infrastructure’s fault and it’s not an unfortunate bystander’s fault. It’s the pet owner’s fault. I would hate to kill someone’s pet. Nobody wakes up in the morning and anticipates killing someone’s best friend, but that is what happens when stubborn, lazy owners are negligent. In the States, cars kill approximately one million dogs every year.
Refusing to keep your dog on a leash in public areas is as bad as feeding the animal chocolate. And even though BC Place has agreed to take actions to prevent future incidents involving the dangerous ledge, the real change in thinking needs to be communicated to pet owners. It doesn’t matter how much your dog deserves freedom. For its own safety it should be restrained.
Stop your dog from running into traffic, stop your dog from attacking other dogs, stop your dog from bugging pedestrians—not everybody likes dogs—and finally, stop your dog from running rampant and endangering itself and other people.