Yellowknife councillors could consider changing the city’s dog bylaw to enforce more rules out at the sandpits.
This comes after a woman’s yorkie schnauzer was hit by a vehicle in the area, suffering a broken pelvis.
The sandpits are one of the three off-leash areas for owners to take their dogs in Yellowknife. It’s not uncommon to see people running their dogs beside their vehicles there, something that leads to several pet fatalities a year.
“It’s so dangerous and people don’t understand how dangerous it is until somebody that you know gets hurt,” said Trudy Hause. Her dog Elwood was run over in October while at the sandpits.
“People just don’t understand that, and they continue to run out there with their dogs outside their trucks. It’s just dangerous. It’s just not worth losing your dog over, especially when you run over your own.”
Hause says she’s lucky her dog survived, and now she’s petitioning for city councillors to crack down on people who drive alongside their pets in the area.
On Monday night, her and Melissa Ruf, a certified dog trainer, spoke to councillors about the need to make off-leash dogs areas safer in the city.
They’re asking for the city to enforce a speed limit of 15 kilometres per hour at the sandpits and Tin Can Hill, and for the city to set aside funds to educate pet owners about the dangers of running their dogs beside their cars.
“Any time you have an off-leash area that is used by dog guardians as well as people, with recreational vehicles or bicycling, there’s going to be conflict,” Ruf told councillors.
She thinks the city should consider safety measures like signage or designate specific areas for dog walkers within the sandpits.
“The dog bylaw currently prohibits allowing dogs to pursue vehicles on highways,” Ruf said.
“But [it] fails to include the high-risk areas such as the sandpits and Dettah ice road, where numerous pet fatalities have already occurred.”
There was some confusion at city hall about what bylaw would apply to this situation.
Section 34 of the city’s dog by-law [pdf] says “no person shall allow a dog to be outside of the passenger cab of a motor vehicle on a highway.”
Most roads in Yellowknife fall under this bylaw.
However, according to city administration, the sandpits are not considered a designated highway, and thus fall outside of the city’s jurisdiction in this case.
Administration says it will look into possible amendments to the dog bylaw and report back to councillors within a couple of weeks.
Until then, Hause says her fight to stop pet owners from driving at the sandpits will continue.
“I’m not giving up on this. I’m hoping to push this through with everyone’s help.”