Neither side seems happy with the way in which White Rock’s no-dogs bylaw is being enforced on the waterfront.

LETTERS: Two views on dogs at the beach

Neither side seems happy with the way in which White Rock’s no-dogs bylaw is being enforced on the waterfront.

Editor:

I have noticed a sharp increase in the number of dogs on the beach, pier and promenade in the last few months.

Weekends on the beach are fast becoming the most popular toilet spot for dog owners to vacate their pets’ bladders and bowels. It is difficult to observe off-leash dogs chasing wildlife off their food sources along the tideline, much to the delight of their owners.

Once one owner walks past the ‘no dogs’ signs, the rest then use the excuse that there are others in the restricted areas. I called city hall to inquire about the lack of bylaw enforcement. We used to have a very effective individual that politely and firmly enforced bylaws intended to keep our beach off limits to dogs, cyclists and skateboards.

White Rock has but one primary asset – the beach. It should be clean and safe for the public to enjoy.

Dogs are both a human health hazard and a human safety hazard and have no place on the beach. I have read extremely disingenuous claims by dog owners of their conscientious habit of picking up after their dogs. Or, my dog would lick you before it would bite you. These claims belie even minimum intellect of the owners.

The mess left on public property is hazardous waste in the same category as toxic chemicals and oil. It contains: E-coli, hookworms, roundworms, ringworms, tapeworms, parovirus and salmonella. These parasites cause disease to the brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and eyes. It lingers in the soil for years.

The cutesy plastic bags tied to leashes prove nothing, as most have never been taken off unless they are being watched. I have witnessed dogs pooping on the beach and the owners taking a handful of sand and covering it up. In the evenings, locals show up, dogs off-leash, running loose and defecating wherever they please.

If the City Of White Rock can fine a resident $500 for leaving a vacuum cleaner beside the cardboard disposal box on Keil Street, they certainly could raise the fine for ignoring the dog bylaws to $1,000/1,500.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that a bay with 20 miles of shoreline with a population of 100 dogs raises the fecal-coliform count above safe bathing levels in two to three days. Our beach suffers more dog visits with a smaller shoreline.

I am sure White Rock will never take steps to test the water for fear of hurting the feelings of dog owners. Or it will be the same process of testing air particulates while the coal trains are being re-routed through Abbotsford.

We lost access to the ‘whale’ park because of dog owners ignoring private-property rights and desecrating the fields with dog feces. Do we have to turn our beach over to the same disease-ridden parasites, compliments of city hall?

L. Veitch, White Rock

• • •

Editor:

White Rock beach has been known to be a tourist destination. However, judging from my last experience, I struggle to believe that this will continue to be true in the near future, because of this simple fact: dogs are vehemently unwelcome at White Rock beach.

When I brought my dog to White Rock beach one day, it was not the enforced bylaw that surprised me, but the negative attitude from people. Three times I was approached by strangers informing me quite aggressively about how my dog was not allowed on the promenade. On the third time, I shared my surprise by stating that Vancouver allows dogs in every tourist destination, at which point the man replied: “If dogs were allowed on the pier, everybody would be doing it.”

But isn’t that the confusion here? People are doing it everywhere. We live in a society that invites, welcomes and accommodates all social norms, and as long as they are behaved, that invitation extends to our furry companions as well. In places that are considered tourist destinations, such as Kitsilano, Granville Island, Gastown and even at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, establishments are recognizing the influences responsible dog owners have on businesses.

These days, dogs are considered ‘part of the family’ and, as such, are included in outdoor activities in the park or even on restaurant patios. Further, influential businesses are allowing office dogs in the workplace, an environment that is known to be extremely traditional. Nevertheless, they integrate these canine additions into their work environment. So then, why can’t White Rock?

The reason behind the bylaw was because of the few irresponsible dog owners who refuse to pick up after their dogs. However, there are other solutions available.

For instance, Steveston is an extremely populated area, and it is quite similar to that of White Rock, yet the boardwalk is entirely dog-friendly. With the hydrating stations and the friendly locals, it is hard to imagine a friendlier place for my pooch. With the abundance of poop bags available, there is no excuse for dog owners to forget to pick up after their dog.

With so many other opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with my dog, it does not seem likely for me to return to White Rock. Why pay for the parking when I can go to Crescent Beach and enjoy their shorelines there? Why risk a fine when I can bring my dog to Kitsilano, Steveston Village or anywhere in North Van?

The appeal White Rock once had has been diminished by the other destinations where families can go for a richer experience – an experience that decidedly includes that furry family member.

April Kelly, Surrey

 

 

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