Walking the dog

Pet owners reminded of regulations

Krysta Carroll kys28@hotmail.com
Published on June 6, 2011
Barry Manuel (left), executive director of the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association, and Wayne Downton, animal control officer with the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, are trying to come up with a plan to accommodate all Corduroy Brook Trail users, while keeping in mind the rules and regulations of the town specify animals must be on a leash while in town limits. Krysta Colbourne photo

Out of sight, out of mind is not the case, especially when it comes to animals off leashes within town limits. Wayne Downton, animal control officer with the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, said he was contacted by Barry Manuel, executive director of the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association concerning animals being off leashes on the Corduroy Brook Trails.

Out of sight, out of mind is not the case, especially when it comes to animals off leashes within town limits.

Wayne Downton, animal control officer with the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, said he was contacted by Barry Manuel, executive director of the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association concerning animals being off leashes on the Corduroy Brook Trails.

“When Barry called me he was aware of the situation and was wondering if there was something further that could be done, or looking for input from my perspective as animal control for the town, to see if we could come up with some type of ideas to promote the regulations on the trail,” Mr. Downton said.

Regulations apply within town limits, Mr. Downton added, whether people are walking animals on the main streets or the trails of the town.

“The animals must be tethered, penning up or on a leash at all times and anybody that is walking a dog on a leash must be capable of handling that particular animal,” Mr. Downton said. “The biggest concern is the public that are using the trail. They go in there for their enjoyment, relaxation and just to get away. There are a lot of people that are afraid of dogs, regardless of their size or breed, and the fact that it’s against regulations to have your animal off a leash, they should have to put up with that.”

He added owners are responsible for the actions of their pets and there are consequences – they can be penalized or fined.

“For first time offence for having your animal off leash is a $25 fine,” Mr. Downton said, adding a second time offence would be $50 and so on. “Maybe a verbal warning may solve the problem. Maybe just a warning ticket to let that person know that you are aware that their animals are off leash.”

This is where the public has to come in, he said.

“They need to assist because the animal control can not be there at all times so if they could supply maybe a name or licence plate number or some kind of information,” Mr. Downton said, adding is covers Grand Falls-Windsor and four hours a week in Bishop’s Falls. “You just can’t go on assumption.”

He is asking for public’s assistance to supply whatever information they can and he will follow up on it.

“I have no hesitation about doing that whatsoever,” Mr. Downton said. “That is town regulations. That’s what I am here for, to enforce them. I would rather promote the regulations than enforce them but you do what you have to do.”

Mr. Downton said a large number of people use the trails, and he is a trail user himself. He added has been in the position of animal control for 11 years.

“Animal control regulations are nothing new to this town, everybody should be aware of them,” he said. “I don’t know if people need to be educated, or just informed that you are in the town limits, you are under the town regulations and bylaws, it doesn’t mean anything just because you are in a wooded area or on a main street, they still apply.”

DOG FRIENDLY TRAIL

Mr. Manuel said he decided to contact Mr. Downton to try to increased awareness after he received a number of complaints of dogs off leashes on the trails. Mr. Manuel added the amount of complaints has increased, and particularly this time of year when more and more people are walking the trial.

“We want to remain a dog-friendly trail and we are trying to figure out solutions that can accommodate all users but as it stands right now, rules are rules, and it’s not fair to people who are using the trail to encounter dogs not on leashes, especially those who may have a fear of animals, particularly dogs,” Mr. Manuel said.

He added some people have contacted him saying they are deathly afraid of dogs and while on the trail they turned the corner and was confronted by a canine, with no owner in clear sight. The trail user got a fright and didn’t know how to handle the situation, Mr. Manuel said.

“We hear from dog owners, the common thing for them to say is ‘well, my dog is harmless, he won’t hurt anybody.’ Well that’s fine, and I’m sure it’s true, and it’s easy for that person to be confident in that, but for someone who doesn’t know the dog, how can they be confident in the fact that the dog is harmless, especially those who have the fear,” Mr. Manuel said.

Mr. Manuel is looking for feedback from trail users to try to come up with a solution.

“We don’t want to bar people from using the trail, period, whether they use it to walk their dog or not, so we would like to come up with some kind of solution or compromise that would be satisfactory to all who use the trail,” Mr. Manuel said.

“So we just ask people to respect the rules on the trail.”

“We’ve had some ideas given to us, but we would like some additional feedback and hopefully we can take measures that will accommodate everybody involved.”

To give feedback, contact Mr. Manuel at 489-3900.