CALGARY- Complaints from Calgary’s off-leash dog parks have decreased dramatically over the past year.
The change is being attributed to the off-leash ambassador program celebrating its first anniversary.
The ambassadors don’t ticket or enforce, they’re here to educate and take suggestions from dog owners.
“All I do is I give them a poop bag, I explain to them that there is a fine involved if you don’t pick it up and I also tell them being in Calgary being a responsible pet owner means doing your share. ”
Brian Crawford was one of the first four volunteers to sign up for the “off leash ambassadors program” when it started last summer.
“I just can’t say enough good things about Calgary’s dog areas,” Crawford said.
There are now 60 of his kind, patrolling 12 of the city’s off leash areas.
“Letting people know you can’t drop off your dog and go do errands. You can’t be on your cell phone and not know where your dog is at all times,” Crawford said. “You can’t just come and visit with your friends and not be aware of your dog you still have to when you come be responsible for your dog.”
The city is calling the program a success. Cheryl Herperger with animal and bylaw services said in the year it’s been around, off leash dog park complaints to 311 have gone down significantly.
“The program was originally based on that tracking. There were customer citizen complaints that there are aggressive dogs or irresponsible owners not picking up so we’ve already seen a train going down with the number of complaints,” Herperger said.
Bowmont is one of only three “fenced in” off leash parks in the city. The area councillor Ward Sutherland said that in time, more of these parks can be established in the city’s expanding suburbs.
“In particular, I live in Rocky Ridge.And Tuscany doesn’t have one, that’s 40,000 people.”
As for the volunteers who have to remind the less responsible dog owners to pick up, they say the vast majority are easy to deal with.
“During the bylaw training sessions I expected it to be worse than it was but it’s not. You know most people are just wonderful people,” Crawford said.
The plan is to expand the program to all of the city’s 151 off leash parks in three years. Funding is in place for the project for at least three years.
The city is still looking for more volunteers to expand the program.