Dog park safety risks on social media not confirmed: Edmonton officials

Hermitage Park off-leash dog area in Edmonton, May 17, 2019. Nineteen fenced off-leash areas will open in mid-May, according to the city. Global News

Despite a number of social media posts warning pet owners of various dangers at Edmonton dog parks, the city said Friday none of the allegations have been confirmed and parks remain open.

“We’re here to address some rumours and misinformation happening on social media regarding some of our off-leash parks being closed due to tainted meat,” said Ryan Smar, a peace officer and park ranger with the city.

“We want to be absolutely clear that these parks are open, that there have been no confirmed cases of tainted meat being found. Park rangers will generally go out and investigate any complaints sent in to us regarding tainted meat and so far we haven’t received any confirmed findings.”

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If the city receives a complaint about a dog park, rangers are sent out to investigate and they search for any potential safety risks.

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People are asked to contact 311 (using the app or by phone) if they find any debris in city parks that could be hazardous to pets.

So far, Smar said the only complaints the city has received directly from citizens were in regards to social media posts and to find out of the parks were in fact closed.

The city’s off-leash co-ordinator is urging people to share any concerns directly with 311 rather than circulate unconfirmed social media posts.

“We would much rather have something reported and then us investigate it than for it to go around on social media without us knowing,” Beckie Boutilier said.

In addition to reporting anything potentially dangerous directly to 311, Smar has some basic advice for pet owners using city dog parks.

“Keep their dogs in sight even in off-leash areas,” he said. “If they go out into the woods, you never know what might be in there. And in on-leash areas, just make sure their dogs are on leash.”

READ MORE: More off-leash dog parks needed in select Edmonton neighbourhoods: researchers

Edmonton has 43 off-leash areas. While staff patrols the areas, volunteers also help keep an eye out for potential hazards and help create a sense of community.

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Anyone interested in joining the Dogs Off-Leash Ambassador Program can apply online.

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