Monday, October 9, 2006

Yarmouth - if you love dogs, don't go there!

Well. A couple days ago some caring dog lover posted in the comments about a proposed dog ban in Yarmouth - and was there anything that could be done about it.

There had been a super short article in the Chronicle Herald:

Dogs might not be welcome in Yarmouth

By The Canadian Press
YARMOUTH -- Dogs might no longer be welcome in Yarmouth.

The sleepy, seaside town is considering a ban of the animals after discussing the possibility at a recent Yarmouth town council meeting.

Deputy mayor Martin Pink says one of the biggest problems is dog excrement on the sidewalks.

Yarmouth does have a poop-and-scoop bylaw on its books, but he says many people aren't picking up after their pooches.

Pink also said some people have complained about menacing dogs.

Municipal staff will look at other towns in Canada that may have similar bans.

That just sounded ludicrous to me. It had to be some kind of misunderstanding on the part of the Chronicle Herald. And it was such a throwaway little article - and when I didn't see anything on the news that night - you'd think that the television news would have picked up something like that - banning dogs in an entire town? I mean, my GOD!

And then today.... I read....

Mon Oct 9, 2006 4:47 am (PST)
Bye-bye bow wow

Town ponders downtown dog ban

Tina Comeau
The Vanguard

If you're thinking about opening up a doggy caf� on Main Street you might want to reconsider. Your business clientele could be on the scarce side.

Extremely scarce.

The Town of Yarmouth is investigating the possibility of toughening up its dog bylaw so that dogs would not be allowed on Main Street in the downtown core.

And maybe not even in the central business district, although Councillor Byron Boudreau said that might be problematic because some people reside in apartments in the central business district and may have dogs as pets.

One reason for wanting to keep dogs out of the downtown core is dog droppings. Despite a poop scoop requirement in the town some owners don't pick up after their dogs. In recent years the Yarmouth Development Corporation has gone so far as to arm people with disposable cameras to catch the dirty deed on film to be used as evidence in court.

Another reason for wanting to ban dogs is because many people feel uncomfortable and nervous around dogs.

"You see a lot of mean looking dogs on Main Street, and even not so mean looking dogs," said Deputy Mayor Martin Pink. �They�re jumping at people, a lot of people have a fear of them so they cross the street to try and avoid them. I think it we want to enhance Main Street and have people feel more inclined to be there "eliminating the dogs would be a start." He and other councillors said another problem is how dogs react when they meet other dogs. It can be very difficult for owners to control dogs under this situation.

Plus Pink thinks getting rid of the dogs would solve the issue of loitering.

The deputy mayor expects there would be exceptions to the ban for guide dogs and for tourists who unknowingly come into the downtown with their dogs.

Signs would be posted to alert people to the no-dog rule.

"I can't come up with a reason why it wouldn't be good to get all dogs, not just vicious or scary dogs, but all dogs out of the downtown core," said Councillor Esther Dares. "It's just not a dog-friendly environment."

Meanwhile, following a motion of approval by council, the Department of Leisure Services will be posting signs that dogs are not permitted at its facilities when people are present. Dares said recent incidents involving dogs at Lake Milo and the Hebron Recreation Complex had led to this decision.

The town will likely post similar signs at its playgrounds.

"We just feel if people are present it's not appropriate," said Dares, who is a dog owner herself. "They're not dog parks, they're people parks."

She admits a place like Beacon Park poses a challenge because it's a park with a playground in the middle of it. It's even where the Yarmouth SPCA holds its annual dog job fundraiser.

"That will be one of the challenges that our staff have to come up with reasonable solutions for, because in the Town of Yarmouth there is no dog park."

But Dares says there probably should be and it is something the town should look into.

"Bigger communities have them and I don't think it's an unreasonable thing for dog owners to ask for," she said. "Even if it's just one park, a place where dogs can go to socialize.

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Okay. Clear your heads. Try to ignore the sick feeling that has just started in the pit of your stomach. What is going to be happening down in the town of Yarmouth is what's called a "public space ban". That is a term that I thought we'd never hear here in Nova Scotia - I just recently heard the term myself and when I heard it I decided I'd never talk about it on this blog for fear that the Lloyd Hines' of this province would get wind of it and realize "what a good idea it could be".

It involves not banning dogs outright from the town - but basically you can't take your canine life companion anywhere. Except into your own back yard. Everything in the above article is so bass-ackwards in regards to responsible dog ownership that I don't even know where to begin in how to talk about how wrong Yarmouth is in what they're about to do.

In an October 5th column in the same newspaper they talk about how so many fewer tourists came through Yarmouth this year - don't they realize that tourists own dogs? And that Nova Scotian tourists also own dogs? And that I am a Nova Scotian and that I own a dog? And that I am never going to go to Yarmouth again? Don't they realize that maybe they just need to enforce the laws they already have in place? Don't they have any animal control bylaw in the town already? Can't that bylaw be enforced as it's currently written rather than writing a whole new bylaw banning dogs? That's absolutely ridiculous - talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water.

The whole bottom end of the province has just dropped into the ocean as far as I'm concerned. Until they decide to start letting their dogs out in public again. My money will stay where my dogs are allowed. And I'm sure there are literally 1000's of other responsible dog owners who feel the same way.

I'm assuming that Yarmouth is in the "municipality of the district of Yarmouth" - their website is at http://www.district.yarmouth.ns.ca/mo/go.aspx?ID=1 and these are the councillors - Bryan Smith, Warden - his email address is warden@district.yarmouth.ns.ca - Brian Noble, - his email address is brian@district.yarmouth.ns.ca - he's the Deputy Warden; Gilles Robichaud, - his email address is gilles@district.yarmouth.ns.ca (and his picture shows he's a cutie pattootee!) Daniel Muise - his email address is daniel@district.yarmouth.ns.ca , Ken Crosby - his email address is kenc@district.yarmouth.ns.ca - Staley Goodwin, his email address is admin@district.yarmouth.ns.ca - Leland Anthony, his email address is leland@district.yarmouth.ns.ca

Go and have a look around at the website and see what you can find and write to the esteemed councillors and tell them whether or not you've been planning on making a trip to that part of the province in the next little while - and whether or not you're going to go if they DO decide to not let people take their dogs outside of their houses. This is the twenty-first century of our Lord. The times are changing - but they aren't changing the way that the town of Yarmouth seems to want them to go. Not if I'm going to have anything to do with it!

7 comments:

  1. If they really want to make life perfect for those people inordinately afraid of harmless, everyday things; they should also ban cars, bicycles, five gallon buckets, marbles, sports and sporting equipment...all of which harm and kill more people each year than dogs.

    And if we want to acknowledge what's really going on with these kinds of arbitrary fears about dogs, we should compare it to laws that restrict people based on race...after all, many people are afraid of people from different races than themselves. If you don't agree with racism, then you're beginning to understand why law-abiding citizens object to laws that restrict them, based on their property, or worse, the mere appearance of their property (i.e. their dogs).

    Less than 1% of dog bites involve a supervised dog in a public place. Pandering the fears of those who "think" (and I use that term extremely loosely) otherwise, is ludicrous and completely misguided.

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  2. Anonymous4:12 PM

    C'est épouvantable !

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  3. Anonymous6:29 PM

    Does anyone know if they have garbage cans on main st. and have they considered making poopy bags available in outlets?

    It would be interesting to know if people in Yarmouth are just like everyone else in the respect that they forget to bring plastic bags or whether they are stunned as they would appear in the media?

    Surely that can't be true I hope...

    Angela

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  4. Anonymous11:04 AM

    that ia, apparently, the webiste for the municipailty of Yarmouth - not the town. Here is the right one:
    http://www.yarmouth-town.com/council.htm

    not easy to find but eveyone's email is there including dough-head Pink.

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  5. Anonymous11:13 AM

    and to angela - it does not help to called a entire population of dog owners stunned. Poeple in Yarmouth are no more stunned than in your town. there is a group of peopel there who disregard by-laws and are wholly incosiderate of otehrs. until the town decides to enforce them, not much will change.

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  6. Anonymous1:07 PM

    You will note I said "appear" stunned in the media. And if leaving dog crap all over the sidewalks, having neighbours video tape each other not picking up dog poo and having town council consider a dog ban doesn't appear stunned to other people...well I don't know what to say about that. Sure doesn't look good to me.

    I know lots of good people in Yarmouth but this really looks ridiculous in the media...truly it does. Not my fault the town council decided to make a mockery of their town...and if Yarmouth people are embarrassed then taking action would be the way to rectify their poor media representation or do a better job electing their municipal politicians.

    Angela (who's never anonymous)

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  7. There have been a number of successful strategies for reducing the amount of dog poop on sidwalks.

    The two main components are:

    1. Education

    Education about a dog owner's legal responsibilities, and education about the public health concerns, and overall yuck factor.

    Dog owners can also be educated about the simplicity of asking their dogs to relieve themselves on their own property, before embarking on a walk.

    2. Enforcement

    The low-down, dirty dawgs (not "dogs") who insist on leaving their pets' poop for others to step in will only change their ways if they're penalized for doing so.

    Sure, the initial response of the truly dedicated "poop and run-er" to the prospect of a fine, is to start walking their dogs when fewer people are around to witness their dastardly "crimes". That usually means earlier in the morning or later in the evening. (Poor dogs, who have to 'hold it'.)

    But, eventually, most begin to come around, once they see other dog owners doing the right thing, and maybe even once they step in their own messes, and suffer the consequences of their negligence.

    Most people don't realize that fines, themselves, don't usually make much of an impact because, in order for the case to hold up in court, the issuing officer has to witness the "crime" in the act. Most incidents don't meet this requirement.

    I haven't heard of anyone actually being fined based entirely on video evidence, but I'd sure like to see a web site with such videos freely available, to embarrass those folks into doing the right thing.

    That actually reminds me of a more tragic outcome of such an initiative.

    In some countries, the concept of "honour" is practically life and death. Well, in one Asian country, someone used a cellular phone to record a woman allowing her dog to defecate on public property, without cleaning it up. The individual then posted the video to the Internet, at which point the woman's identity was soon discovered.

    People began harrassing her mercilessly. Don't quote me, but I think she may have attempted suicide, as a result. Either way, it was very humilating for her.

    In North America, it'd be just our luck that the same situation would result in a near-heroic cult-following of the perpetrator, on YouTube.

    Irony of ironies, just yesterday I was asked to provide advice to dog owners, on this very subject, for one U.S. newspaper. Here's the portion that specifically addresses this issue:

    ***************************

    "There is a very easy way for dog owners to be more considerate, when it comes to allowing their dogs to soil public property.

    I have taught responsible dog ownership for a number of years now, and expect every dog owner to be responsible, and ask their pets to relieve themselves on the owners' properties BEFORE venturing out for walks.

    I do it, myself, every time!"

    Dog owners can learn more tips, by reading the article, "Dog Walking Etiquette" at GoodPooch.com

    http://www.goodpooch.com/ISSUES/etiquette.htm

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