Many of the city's biggest dog luminaries attended tonight's lecture hosted by John Charles from City Planning to listen to Bill Bruce from Calgary Alberta talk about how his city has tackled dog control bylaws and off-leash dog parks - and everybody sat pretty much spell-bound for his hour long presentation! I certainly was enthralled by everything he said - and I'm pretty sure he knew who he was talking to - because several times through his presentation he made the comment that he "was pretty sure he was preaching to the choir" - and I'm pretty sure he was right.
Some interesting things he talked about were things like - what does control of your dog actually mean in the context of an offleash dog park? Like if an enforcement officer were going to come up to you and give you a little test to see if you had control of your dog in regards to compliance at an off-leash dog park - what would he/she do - and what would they expect you to do to be in compliance when you're in an off-leash dog park - and he said that there are 2 main components: #1 is visual contact - you have to have visual contact with your dog at all times so that you can see if your dog is pooping, is being a nuisance, is doing whatever - and #2 - you have 2 chances to call your dog to you - and if your dog won't come - you're in contravention and you can be fined by a bylaw enforcement officer because you obviously don't have control of your dog - so if you don't have a good recall on your dog - you'd better work on it if you want to use an off-leash dog park!
One neat thing he talked about for all you people who have had enforcement officers come to your door because a neighbour has complained about your dog barking - inside your own house - and you know who I'm talking about! - Bill Bruce said that almost all nuisance and barking aomplaints are dealt with through mediation - and not through bylaw enforcement citations - which I personally think is a MUCH healthier way to go about neighbour relations.
He also said that the City and the local Humane Society breaks up their various duties by thinking about their duties thusly: The Humane Society protects the animals from the people and the City protects the people from the animals - so for instance - one of the attendees asked whether the City offered "puppy socialization classes" because that would be very helpful in lowering euthanization rates and impound rates at the City Pound - Bill Bruce agreed - but something like that is really more of benefit to animals - so that is something that the Humane Society offers - and so they DO - and it is very successful.
I'd say there was a very good turn-out tonight and everybody was listening - I hope when Mr. Bruce meets with the City Council tomorrow morning that they will be listening as intently. Calgary has a 95% compliance rate with their licencing and bring in 4 million dollars a year because of that - which completely funds their Animal Control program - and that program only costs 3.7 million - the balance of that 4 million goes to the Humane Society so that the homeless and abandoned animals also get taken care of - can you believe that? What a world the companion animals have up there - and it's all because the licencing and bylaw system has a value for the money - if your dog gets lost - it actually finds it's way back home, and if your animal gets caught without a licence - there are consequences. Neither of which we have here right now.
If we could also get a little bit of their 141 off-leash dog parks - we'd be really laughing!
If you're feeling really keen - he gave out a powerpoint presentation of the event - if you know me - I can give you a cd of the presentation if you'd like one - just email me and I'll burn you one!