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Sex assault sparks debate over dog policy in Calgary’s Weaselhead Park

Click to play video 'Sex assault sparks debate over dog policy in Calgary’s Weaselhead Park' Sex assault sparks debate over dog policy in Calgary’s Weaselhead Park
WATCH: Two weeks after a woman was sexually assaulted in the Weaselhead Park, a Calgary woman said she would feel safer if dogs were allowed everywhere she is. As Nancy Hixt reports, officials say the rules are there to protect people, dogs and wildlife – Jun 3, 2018

A Calgary woman wants the city to relax its rules when it comes to allowing dogs in Weaselhead Park.

Hana Stastny said she’s been on edge in light of a sexual attack that happened on one of the trails just over two weeks ago.

READ MORE: Calgary police looking for suspect in alleged sexual assault on trail

“Having a dog by your side, any attacker will think twice, even if your dog is friendly they don’t know it,” she said.

But dogs aren’t allowed in all parts of the natural area.

She’s received two warnings and one fine over the past year for having her dog with her.

“It’s more than confusing.”

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But Chris Manderson, head of Urban Conservation with Calgary Parks, told Global News the rules have been the same for nearly a quarter-century.

“Dogs are allowed on leash on the regional pathway but not allowed on the trails within the Weaselhead itself,” Manderson explained.

Officials said the Weaselhead is one of three city parks that are designated special protection natural areas, along with Griffith Woods and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.

“There are large carnivores, large mammals in the park: moose, coyotes, bears and cougars,” Manderson said. “One of the things we want to do is ask people to keep dogs out of that area to reduce conflict.”

Manderson cited recent encounters between dogs and coyotes as an example.

The city has been tracking animals in the area.  Cameras have captured photos of moose, cougars, and coyotes. Bears have also been sighted in the Weaselhead.

READ MORE: What’s lurking in the woods? Remote camera photography popularity grows with wildlife enthusiasts

Manderson said the bylaw is in to protect the public, dogs and wildlife.

“If you do want to go and experience the Weaselhead in an area where we’re asking you not to take your dog, maybe think about going with a friend or a group of people so you have a bit of safety in numbers,” he said.

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Manderson said the city will work with police to discuss an increased presence in the area.

No arrest has been made in connection with the recent attack.