EDITORIAL: Clarity required for issues involving dogs

It's a case of too many jurisdictions with too many regulations

Write about it and they will respond.

Without hesitation. In large numbers. With passion from all sides of the debate.

You might be wondering what subject matter we are referring to here. The federal election? Nope. Homelessness? No. Health care? Nada.

Whenever we, or our valued letters to the editor contributors, write about issues related to dogs, the proverbial poop hits the fan.

This subject matter provides an excellent example of how there are often more than two sides to a story. It also serves as an example of how all people in what may seem the same category do not think alike — not all dog owners agree on all issues, for example.

Dogs have been with families for thousands of years. They have worked beside their owners, protected them and provided them with companionship. These days, they do all of the above and more.

We have seen how dogs light up the faces of the sick, the elderly and even those with dementia who don’t respond to other stimuli. They are a lifeline for the blind and invaluable for law enforcement.

We have also seen how dogs get loose and kill livestock, or attack other dogs or threaten and scare people in public.

Like the gun control debate, it often comes down to the responsible nature of the owners, or lack thereof. If a dog is properly trained and properly restrained, problems are less likely to occur. However, unlike guns, dogs are living, breathing animals whose reactions cannot be predicted 100 per cent of the time.

Local governments have tried to please everyone as they set up dog parks, on and off-leash and the like. We all know what happens when you try to please everyone.

Clarity over dog issues would be welcome in Parksville Qualicum Beach. One of the symptoms of an over-governed area is a mishmash of bylaws and regulations. One almost needs to carry a GPS indicator around here to know what jurisdiction one is situated. We have different bylaws in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo. You can be in all three jurisdictions within a three-minute drive near French Creek. There are also provincial and federal regulations to consider when near a park or nature reserve or the ocean.

We challenge these governments to work together and produce a clear map of where one can walk a dog (with or without a leash). We will commit to devoting a full colour page for publishing that map.

— Editorial by John Harding

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