Skip to content

Bad week for bad dog owners

Again this week, a couple or several people have switched ranks from being pet owners to pest owners in the Bow Valley.

Again this week, a couple or several people have switched ranks from being pet owners to pest owners in the Bow Valley.

At this point, we can’t say the irresponsible dog owners allowing their animals to chase wildlife are local citizens, but we can say that whoever they are, they are setting a very bad example in joining others who have let their animals have adverse effects on our wildlife (page 5).

In both Banff and Canmore, irresponsible owners allowed off-leash dogs to harass and attack ungulates at a time of year when the stress caused by these attacks has reduced the likelihood they will survive.

With any luck, these bad dog owners will be found and prosecuted to whatever extent is allowed under the appropriate bylaws.

And by bad dog owners, we don’t mean ‘bad dog’ owners, we mean ‘bad’ dog owners. There’s a big difference.

Often, when dogs are seen at their worst, a quick response is to curse the animals for whatever it is they’ve been doing. Generally, though, when dogs and other animals are at their worst, it is the owners who are at fault.

In the case of the dogs in Banff that attacked a mule deer and the dogs near Canmore that were chasing sheep, the dogs were doing what they would naturally do when in a pack situation. The only reason they were in a pack situation, of course, is that their irresponsible owners had them off-leash and allowed them to run wild and attack wildlife.

Yes, the Bow Valley is dog-crazy, with many people owning more than a single animal. But, along with ownership comes responsibility.

In fact, rather than viewing dog ownership as a right, which apparently many do, it should be viewed as what it is – a long-term responsibility.

One of the biggest responsibilities throughout this valley is to have dogs on a leash in areas specified as such. On-leash areas aren’t stipulated as such merely to inconvenience dog owners; they are there for a concrete reason such as being near wildlife corridors.

Having dogs on leash not only protects the wildlife we share the valley with, it also protects dogs and their owners. In this area, off-leash dogs have been attacked, even killed, by coyotes and cougars. And there is the risk that, should a dog suddenly confront a bear, the pet’s first instinct is often to run for safety back to its owner; to be followed in short order by a now-aggravated bruin.

In the Canmore area, irresponsible dog owners have had a hand in a wildlife manager shooting a moose which became aggressive after being chased by dogs near Quarry Lake, and indirectly responsible for the death of a black bear which was darted, along with its mother, when she became aggressive in protecting her young. At this time of year, after wildlife has survived yet another long winter, they are vulnerable. They may be undernourished and weakened until riparian areas green up and females may be carrying young while needing nourishment and rest.

Outright attacks are not the only danger – dogs hounding wildlife can result in a later death.

If you own a dog in the Valley, or visit with your dogs, please be responsible and keep them under control.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

About the Author: Rocky Mountain Outlook

The Rocky Mountain Outlook is Bow Valley's No. 1 source for local news and events.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks