Last Thursday my wife and I were taking a walk along Whiffen Spit, a walk we have taken many times. We first encountered two women and a pit bull on a leash. As we passed, the dog lunged at me barking loudly. Fortunately it was muzzled and restrained by the leash. I commented mildly, considering, that the dog is in need of training and continued on. No less than three more times during the walk we were bothered and alarmed by dogs that we knew were: a mastiff, a boxer, and another pair whose type escapes me. When we pointed out to the owners our discomfort at these large dogs running free, they all offered no apology or reassurance to their animals’ future behaviour. Quite the contrary, they were quite vocal in citing their dogs’ past behaviour like; ‘it’s a lovely dog and would never bite’, etc.
My answer was that past behaviour is no guarantee of future behaviour, speaking to backsides rapidly walking away. I pointed out to one fellow that the sign at the beginning of the spit said dogs should be controlled. He pointed out the sign said, ‘EFFECTIVE CONTROL’ (my caps). I saw no control unless there was a hidden radio somewhere.
On hundreds of walks, we have never been bothered so much as on this one. The sign’s wording seems dangerously watered down and who, may I ask, backs up the sign and who monitors its effectiveness? It seems the wording is misunderstood because of its inherent elasticity.
Another sign should replace it with unambiguous wording accompanied by the bylaw that sustains it. Speaking personally, I would like to see all large dogs leashed on this jewel of a walk plus any dog whose background breeding is attack. But, after all, it’s the owners who have the answer and the responsibility. Would any owner be prepared, in the event of a biting, to respond to and pay for medical bills, legal proceedings with consequent fines and perhaps euthanasia of their dog? Any or all of these things are potential. Not bitten yet.