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Poo makes park 'unfit for human recreation'
Fritz Thiel user calls on dog owners to take more responsibility

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yellowknife resident Dave Gilday wants to avoid stepping into the dog bylaw discussions currently before city council but he says something has to be done about pet owners who don't pick up after their dogs.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dave Gilday points to one example of many pieces of dog feces located at Fritz Theil Park. Gilday says the city has invested a lot into parks and recreational upgrading in recent years and dog owners need to take more responsibility to pick up poo while using the park. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“Fritz Theil Park is the worst I have ever seen it,” he said Wednesday.

“It is quite timely as city council is discussing the number of dogs people should have. I don't want to enter in on that, but clearly the dog owners have got to say – we are our own worst enemy.”

Gilday was walking to his workout at the Racquet Club on Wednesday when he invited Yellowknifer for a brief walk in the park. Numerous clumps of doggie-doo could be seen on the still brown lawn. Gilday said the gratuitous piles pose a health hazard for children playing in the area.

As a speedskating coach, he also likes to use public green spaces for training his athletes during the off-season and a number of sports enthusiasts use the field to play Frisbee and soccer.

Gilday is quick to say that the city shouldn't be held accountable for the amount of dog waste that has accumulated, but residents should start appreciating what the city has invested in park development.

“The city doesn't take dogs in to do this. I see people there all winter long and I think that is great to have a nice big open area, but the issue is – clean it up. That park is not suitable right now for any sports event.”

Gilday said there shouldn't be an issue with the amounts of doggie bags the city provides at parks, but responsible people buy their own bags themselves, anyway.

Asked if there should be some lenience given that during winter time dog poop is easy to miss in the snow, Gilday said no.

“It is when the snow is on the ground that people need to pick this stuff up,” said Gilday.

Feces collection is a big item in the proposed new dog bylaw as it now states people must carry bags for pickup.

The city has three provisions in its dog bylaw related to dog feces, which include failing to remove dog feces, failing to have suitable means to clean up dog feces, and allowing feces to unduly accumulate. Each infraction carries a $100 fine.

The NWT SPCA conducts cleanups at Fred Henne Park after the winter melt, as it is a good place to run dogs during the winter, said SPCA president Nicole Spencer. While it is difficult for dog owners to chase dogs into the woods where they defecate, in town owners need to be more responsible.

“Around town, if you have your dog running around in the park, then yeah, you have to be responsible,” she said. “I saw somebody in the park the other day walking a little dog and it pooped right in the parking lot and she kept going. There is not much you can do other than push the signage and penalty if bylaw sees you then they can give you a ticket, I guess. But what can I do or the general public do if they see it?”

Public safety director Dennis Marchiori said the proposed revamped dog bylaw will strengthen bylaw officers' ability to enforce the rules by allowing them to check to ensure dog owners are carry bags.

“One of the changes is that with the current bylaw, an MED officer would have to see someone with the dog doing its doodie before he or she could write a ticket,” said Marchiori. “Under the proposed bylaw, you have to show you have something with you like bags when your dog goes, that you have something to pick it up.”

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