Well, my mother informed me the leash law will be enforced in her hometown. In the decade I lived in that city, only aggressive dogs and those prone to taking off were leashed; the vast majority were unleashed. However, this is no longer the case as of two weeks ago. Sad.
Although the leash law was always on the records, it was seldom enforced. So there were lots of dogs running at large. As long they didn’t cross busy intersections, took to doing their bathroom issues at home or in the woods, kept the streets clean, minded their own business and stayed out of trouble, no one saw a reason to leash up a dog. However, due to the sudden increase in bite reports and numbers of complaints about dog-on-dog aggressions, the RCMP has no choice but to go by the book.
The change in community policy is not surprising since the recession started, there is an influx of city folks, with their big honkin’ gas-guzzling Hummers and Ford SUVs, to smaller towns seeking affordable suburban homes. In the last three or five years, the population of the subdivision, where my parents are living, tripled. With them, the roughnecks-gone-yuppies brought along their dogs. Now that being said, it’s not fair to use the incidents of dog attacks to act in a xenophobic manner as there is a logical explanation for this.
In Chapter 16, “A Looser Leash,” of Merle’s Door, Ted Kerasote went into the details about the social dynamics between tourists and off-leash dogs in Chamonix of France. He then applied what he observed in Europe to our own backyards. On page 311-12, he described exactly what happened to the dogs in city I once lived in:
Innumerable case studies have shown that the large increase in dysfunctional canine behavior, especially aggression, is a direct result of more and more dogs living solitary lives. Supervised free-roaming dogs aren’t a threat to public safety; unsocialized ones are. These are the very sort of dogs who, spending their lives in solitary confinement from their own kind–often in a suburban yard–bark their heads off at passersby, make life hell for the mail carrier, and act aggressively toward other dogs and people when they meet them face to face. Such sequestered dogs may have their own dog door, but if the door leads to no more than a lawn and a fence, the dog has merely been put in a bigger crate. The ultimate truth of living with a dog is the same as that of living with a person you care about: It takes time. And in this respect, many urban dogs may have more fulfilling lives than their suburban counterparts. Their humans, being urban people and not so wedded to automobiles, walk, and when they walk they take their dogs with them. If they have access to a park with hours devoted to off-leash recreation, both person and dog get what most of us need, if not every day, then close to every day: access to a reasonable amount of green space, safety from cars, exercise, and good conversation with our own kind.
So in turn, what happened: people brought their poorly-socialized dogs with them, hailing from cities frowning on unleashed dogs, then expected Fido to behave off-the-leash in an act to imitate the locals. In a roundabout way, the very immigrants who tried not to buck the local customs ended up changing the social norms, unintentionally brought down the iron fist and had their new-found privileges revoked. The people are letting dog owners know there is a fine line to be crossed.
As for me? I am considering moving to a township with laxed leash laws, more like virtually non-existent; although, from the complaint reports filed, it seems like the homesteading hippies from Vancouver, with their free-love roaming dogs attacking joggers and cyclists, are forcing the councils to change their opinions on dog ownership. So who knows what will transpire in the next few years.