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Dog owners must control animals

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 06:00 am

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Thereís trouble on the trail. Not St. Albert Trail this time, but rather the cityís off-leash hiking trails.

Earlier this week in the St. Albert Gazette, local resident Mark Haun wrote a letter to the editor describing how, as an avid runner, he was engaging in his favourite pastime before being viciously attacked by two dogs that came up behind him with no warning. Haun said he was bitten in the abdomen by the two dogs that were running loose. Haun made the proper observation: dog attacks can be prevented with the use of a leash.

This attack echoes concerns made by a parent who contacted the Gazette a few weeks ago regarding an off-leash area near Neil M. Ross school. Michelle Receveur, a lunchtime supervisor for the school and a parent, said she and others, including school administration, had concerns about an off-leash area adjacent the school.

The city plans to have 20 off-leash areas remain when the new animal bylaw comes into effect in September. Citizens who enjoy walking the city should take note.

An attack like the one Haun suffered is not necessarily the sign of a bad dog; itís almost certainly the sign of a bad owner. Dog owners may be oblivious to the fact that there are many thousands of people in the city who donít like dogs, donít want dogs jumping up on them and certainly do not want dogs ripping at their abdomen while theyíre trying to mind their own business on taxpayer-funded hiking trails.

Dog bites are a municipal responsibility and the city confirmed Wednesday it handles such incidents under the animal control bylaw and the provincial Dangerous Dog Act. St. Albert RCMP told the Gazette Wednesday they only get involved if a dog has been labeled in court as a threat. Cpl. Laurel Kading noted, however, that even in off-leash areas, dog owners must have their animal under control at all times.

And in a more practical sense, it behooves dog owners to be responsible in their own best interest, even if they are not concerned about the harm their uncontrolled dog may cause an innocent victim.

Iginla and Co. Barristers and Solicitors, an Edmonton law firm, states on its website, ďThe dog bite laws in Alberta are clear. Owners of dogs who bite will in the overwhelming majority of cases be liable to the victim for damages. The standard is in favour of the person who is bitten by the dog and since (sic) it need only be proven that the dog bite(s) injury occurred for this liability to apply.Ē

Dogs canít police themselves; thatís what they have an owner for. Dog owners have a responsibility to get their animal trained and to keep it under control at all times, including in off-leash areas. Please show your neighbours and other local residents respect and keep your dog under control.


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