Municipal government signs in an off-leash area in Dartmouth’s Shubie Park are attracting attention because they tell visitors to control their dogs’ barking.
“If your dog barks it can disturb neighbours and other park users,” the signs read. “Please do not use this area if you can’t control your dog’s barking.”
“I think it’s a little bit silly,” said Lorraine Laviolette, who was walking her dog at the park on Monday.
“It’s like asking a baby not to cry.”
The signs, located at a beach on Lake Micmac, also include the hashtag #respect in bold capital letters.
“It certainly is a first but, at the same time, we’re trying to find ways for signs to stand out. Obviously, that has worked in this case, and it really is about respect,” said Halifax Regional Municipality spokesperson Brendan Elliott.
The signs were put up in mid-January because of complaints by nearby residents.
“It’s become intolerable,” said Katherine Mills, who owns a dog and lives across the water from the area.
Stephanie LeGros, who lives further away and also owns a dog, said she can hear the barking when her doors and windows are shut.
“It’s when it’s exceedingly loud, that I go, ‘Oh gosh, this is awful,'” she said, adding that dogs have swam across the water and into backyards.
The off-leash area has been there for years, and several residents have lived there years prior to its creation.
Municipal staff were made aware of the problem last summer. Staff visited the park 17 times during the summer and early fall to record video and test audio levels.
The majority of the problems stemmed from dogs “barking to have a toy or a ball thrown back in the water, and that is something that the owner can control,” said Elliott.
“Dogs will be dogs, dogs will bark but, if you’re paying attention to your dog, and you’re managing your dog’s behaviour, you shouldn’t have any problems,” said Kathryn Clark, who visited the area with her dog ion the afternoon.
The area was chosen for dogs through public consultation.
“From our perspective, it is the best place for those dogs to be, but if we have to do something to stop the barking, we will,” added Elliott.
Those options could include off-leash privileges being removed and another area being chosen.
No complaints about barking have been received by the municipality since the signs went up, though residents said the park gets significantly busier during the warmer months.
Several neighbours and visitors of the area said they wouldn’t mind off-leash area being moved somewhere else in the park.