unleashed unsafe at Warren Park

[Long overdue for a by-law change, the lovely park has had more than it's fair share of problems with owners of dogs who fail to control their pets. Our family has had more than one encounter with aggressive dogs, and owners, over the years at this park. In contrast, the leash free park off Dundurn South in Hamilton is a fenced in area whereas Warren Park is a natural setting amidst the Dundas Conservation Authority trail system, and does not lend itself to a happy and safe segregated use between hikers and nature lovers, and dogs running loose. Foxes, yes, deer, sure, but dogs, no. Hopefully a resolution is found to amend the leash-free designation here. Good bit of first-hand reporting by Mr. Campbell
Park neighbours want city to enforce rules
Warren Park leash-free designation contravenes 2003 selection criteria
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News Staff, Published on Jan 21, 2010

Neighbours of Warren Park off Tally Ho Drive feel unwelcome in the neighborhood park and are calling for a city review of the leash-free zone that breaks the city’s own rules.

Warren Park’s free running area has existed for 23 years, but has apparently never undergone the required site evaluation introduced in 2003 when the City of Hamilton created a policy for leash free parks.

Selection criteria

The continuation of Warren Park’s leash-free designation does contradict the city’s site selection criteria because the site falls within an Environmental Significant Area and the city policy does not permit free running areas within ESAs.

City staff was not available to comment this week on the Warren Park leash free zone.

Phone calls with specific questions were not returned before deadline.

More than a dozen park neighbours gathered at a Tally Ho Drive home last weekend to share some of their own concerns. Several said they no longer feel comfortable walking in the park because of threats posed by aggressive dogs and some aggressive dog owners. They are often confronted by dogs digging, or defecating, on their private property.

Concerns over Warren Park’s leash free designation were raised last summer by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, which connects directly to the park.

Bruce Mackenzie, the HCA director of customer services and operations, told the Dundas Star News during the summer leash free dogs are not permitted on conservation lands –but there were ongoing problems enforcing that rule.

“We do have a problem, particularly with our trails adjacent to Warren Park,” Mackenzie said.

The HCA put up signs between the municipal leash-free park and its own land reminding dog owners to leash their pets. But members of the group calling themselves Warren Park For Everyone pointed out people have written the word, “Nope,” on a sign advising dog owners to leash their pets.

The residents say many of them are dog owners themselve and have nothing against the pets or their use of the park. But they argue Warren Park is unsuitable for leash-free dogs and doesn’t meet the city criteria for such a designation.

They said the opportunity to unleash dogs in a natural area has brought people from a wide area outside Dundas to the local park, which is part of a significant natural area stretching from Ogilvie Street to Sulphur Springs Road.

While individual dog owners may only let their pet run loose for an hour or less then leave the area, it becomes a 24-hour a day, seven day a week issue for the community that surrounds the park. They say it causes noise, personal property damage, threatens children and the elderly and also creates significant parking problems.

Warren Park is not leash free during the summer months, but neighbours say some dog owners ignore the restriction –in contravention of city policy.

Last Saturday afternoon, when a reporter visited the park, a loose dog walked onto Tally Ho Drive in front of an oncoming vehicle. A teenage girl struggled to control and leash the dog.

During a 20-minute walk through the park, several violations of the city’s policy were noted –including examples of dog owners who had not cleaned up after their pets. One dog charged at the reporter during the visit and the owner made no attempt to leash the pet, as required under the city policy.


Anonymous said…
It is important to remember that all taxpayers have a right to use public parks/public goods. So, I live near the hospital, and I have no right to tell you not to use it. Hence, if you live near Warren Park, you have no right to tell dog owners not to use it. Those of you who co,plain re aggressive dogs must be in the minority or overstating the situation. I have walked there for years and never had a problem. I am far more concerned about aggressive humans. Cities like Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal have at least 30 off-leash areas, in recognition of the fact that public space should be shared. Dog owners like to walk too, and should not be marginalized to ugly little fenced areas just because a few territorial neighbours band together. My tax dollars pay for playgrounds, schools, ice rinks, soccer fields, etc., that I never use. Hence, as a taxpayer, I deserve to have some off-leash area devoted to my dog getting some off-leash exercise and socialization, the kind that he cannot get walking on leash. Those of you who want everything to be done your way in the area surrounding your homes should move to the country.
Anonymous said…
"My tax dollars pay for playgrounds, schools, ice rinks, soccer fields, etc., that I never use. Hence, as a taxpayer, I deserve to have some off-leash area devoted to my dog getting some off-leash exercise and socialization"
This is not logical. You could not, for example go to playgrounds, schools, ice rinks, etc and act aggressively toward other users, you would likely be arrested.
Because you pay taxes, it doesn't give you the right to infringe on others enjoyment.
The Hill Street dog-free area is great, since dogs run, and other people don't have to deal with them. It is also not in the middle of a sensitive natural area with wildlife and nature trails.
You can't have everything your way just because you pay taxes. That's just nonsensical.
Anonymous said…
Right on.....these people who come for 1 measly hour think they know what goes on all day. Your dog has a privilege and I have a RIGHT - there is a big difference. Your dog doesn't give a crap ( maybe it does!) where it runs about, it just wants to run. YOU want the have your cake AND icing - it is you selfish humans that want to walk in conservation AND let dogs roam free.
Say good-bye now....
Anonymous said…
Just like you have a RIGHT, I also have a RIGHT to walk with my dog wherever the city allows me to do so. That off-leash park is funded by the money I paid for MY dog's licence. That park has been there for a long time, probably longer than you have lived in the area, so you knew what you were getting into. If it bothers people so much, you and the people against it should go live somewhere else.
Anonymous said…
Solution - YOU petition YOUR city councillor to create a leash free dog park in YOUR ward. We have 3 in Dundas ( supposed to have one)- we're tired of a zillion people coming from places like burlington, stoney creek and telling US how to live here. Dog parks are a priveledge not a RIGHT !

And I have 2 dogs!!
Anonymous said…
To all the people that dont like animals, go suck a stone, animals have rights also, so shut your holes! i hate people like you, who think animals are dirty and dont desereve our love and attention. People insist on taking their children to resturants and irritate everyone around them, well guess what!? my dog IS MY CHILD, and wayyy more well behaved then the children you accidently have, raise in front of the tv and then take them out in public, yuck!
Anonymous said…
Not sure how to respond to the "go suck a stone" person, other than to say your argument is not only rude, but extremely weak.
Animal lovers can be against leash free zones in natural sensitive areas, FYI, especially when animal lovers can see beyond the end of the pooch's nose - rabbits, snakes, turtles, fox, etc, not to mention flora...
Perhaps if you change your tone, and make a reasoned argument, you can try and win people over to your side?
Anonymous said…
Unbelievable "suck a stone'....what an embarassingly naive comment. Makes me ashamed to be a PETA, SPCA, IFAW, WWF member- which I am. Yet, a leash free dog park does not belong in Warren Park. If that person REALLY cared about all the creatures they would be able to extend their passions beyond canines only!
Anonymous said…
Actually, many people believe that a leash free park DOES belong in Warren Park! I have been harassed on more occasions that I can count when I have walked in the park alone with my dog. Nobody was using the park. I was alone with my dog, and still was photographed and screamed at. For those individuals, you've made it quite clear that Warren Park is your private property, and that seems to be the problem.
Anonymous said…
It's really a simple concept. Locals who are fearful, elderly, have small dogs have not gone in park for quite awhile BECAUSE people like you let your dog go loose. Once it is leash on for a good period of time , tons of people will return - and share this beautiful park. I have lived in this area over 15 yrs! Whats your problem? just use a leash and come on in...
Anonymous said…
I was horseback riding in the Dundas Conservation area. People I came across with dogs that were unleashed called the dogs and quickly leashed them. No problems with any of them. Cyclists however, well some are great and some are extremely rude. Most will get off their bikes when asked and will walk quietly by the horse. The guy I came in contact today was rude and arrogant. When I asked him if he would mind getting off of his bike his response was "No". When I asked him why he responded with "Why do you s#&t all over the trails. My group gets off their horses and moves any manure off of the path but I can't speak for everyone. I advised him that the horses are unpredictable and he could get kicked. His only response was "You should be able to handle your horse". Horses are prey animals and their first instict when frightened is to flee, if they can't they will kick out. So for all of the people that see a horse on the trails I ask that you get off your bike if the rider asks you to. They know their horse best and we really don't want to see you get hurt and we don't want the rider to get hurt. In this particular instance I had by granddaughter with me and was trying to protect her.
Anonymous said…
yet we came across at least 12 people last weekend in the conservation area that had all their dogs loose and runnig thru the forest....all REFUSED to leash their dogs. That's the norm ...HCA should really step up enforcement - this area is getting overrun with loose dogs.
Anonymous said…
"Not in my backyard" is always going to be the knee jerk reaction to any proposal to find a new location for a dog park. Warren Park has existed for more than two decades without any problem. There is a real need for dog owners to have places to run dogs off leash for exercise. Dogs that are socialized with other dogs and get enough physical exercise are generally well behaved dogs. It is the owners’ responsibility to control their dog whether it is off leash or not. I don't see the difference. Not all dog owners are responsible care takers of their pet, this is true, but we do not make by-laws based on minority behaviour. If an owner is in violation of controlling their dog then let them be punished individually the same way we punish drunk drivers. This is a democracy last I checked. It is supposed to be a majority who decides how to spend our tax dollars. When more than 50% of the residents in the area own dogs; it becomes clear that this was not democratically resolved. For the elected officials to overturn a decision that was three to two in favour of keeping Warren Park leash free; this is criminal!
Anonymous said…
What ???
Over 85 % of people WHO LIVE THERE voted AGAINST the park....and many have dogs - including mine who I adore. read the following - that was presented with proof to the City from "molly" on Raise the Hammer:

As a resident of Dundas for the past 17 yrs I would like to assist you in your decision/platform debates by providing you with some facts re-the recent Warren Park issues. Over 120 LOCAL dundas households signed a petition requesting that the park be made leash-on. The number of dog on dog and, dog on people, attacks have been exponentially growing as people come from all over ( eg cambridge, oakville)to this very small park which is nestled within the HCA, within an ESA. It has been advertised on the internet- and hence the flood of hundreds of cars, their dogs and owners each day! Our motion has also been supported by the HCA and Hamilton Naturalist Club.

To this end both sides of this debate presented to City Council and presented and submitted were a multitude of signed affadavits, letters and plenty of pictures ( which we provided to Council) to prove why this park must be leash on only. The Public Works committee fully supported its closure as a leash free park and Council was unanimous in their vote. All sides of this debate were represented.

Also you may not be aware that a new dog park has been approved this month: http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/39C0...
Anonymous said…
You all the people that say they dislike people coming from outside areas to walk there dogs. This just shows how nice warren park is and what a great spot it is to walk your dog.
Anonymous said…
I have recently moved to Dundas and I can't tell you how upsetting this whole argument is to me. I have come from Vancouver, where dogs are allowed off leash in all kinds of natural areas, with the understanding that a) it is good for both owner and pet to explore natural areas and b) dog owners be responsible. For five years I walked dogs in Pacific Spirit park - a primary temperate rainforest, where dogs are allowed (on certain trails) to be off-leash. People who don't want to be around dogs simply choose the trails that are on-leash. The bitter comments going back and forth from both sides here are miserable. I have visited Warren Park a number of times (20 or so) in the past 6 weeks and I have certainly never seen "hundreds" of cars, there. Sure, sometimes the lot is full and people have to park on the street, big deal. The alternative would just be to allow cars to come down into the valley and park at the foot of the hill - that grassy area would offer all kinds of parking. I have also never witnessed ANY dog on dog or dog on person attacks at Warren Park. Really, for all the years I have owned dogs, those types of incidents are really quite rare, and not at all fair to be used against a particular site to criticize its designation, because they can happen anywhere.
I think both sides need to sit down together and have a discussion about the problems, and see what can be worked out. I really believe there are lots of possibilities for everyone to get along.
Doggedly for Facts said…
Apparently there have been problems between unleashed dogs and other park visitors, as mentioned in the motion to provide a fenced leash-free area:

"there have been an increasing number of 'dangerous interactions' between off-leash dogs and children or families using a playground in the same park. '…effectively fencing off the leash-free and playground uses of the park will provide a workable solution for all users,' the motion states.

As previously reported by the Dundas Star News, most municipalities with leash free areas within parks enclose the free running areas with fences – particularly when there is any chance of interaction with other park users, or to keep dogs away from conservation or environmentally significant areas.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supports leash free areas that are fenced, for the protection of the dogs who use them."

What is left to argue about???
Anonymous said…
In New York State you can legally shoot any dog off leash. All you have to do is say it was pursuing a deer. Literally. Canada needs such laws.

The hunting lobby is that powerful. They don’t want any competition which is why they fight to exterminate coyotes and wolves.

I would never actually intentionally kill a dog or cat, but would wound one to protect any type of wildlife. Yesterday I shot at a cat to scare him off from predating on fledgling birds. I’d prefer to shoot those who let domestic animals run loose however.

I have rattled several Hamilton area dirtbags who let their dogs run off leash by telling them that new provincial law allows loose dogs to be shot in woodlands to preserve the deer for hunters. Then I tell them I think it’s a great law.

I haven't unholstered yet, but I'm fed up.

On balance, I do love the law. A few killed dogs is by far, much smaller than the (wild)lives lost by off-leash dogs predating. By shooting an off-leash dog, you're saving the lives of woodland creatures. To me the solution is simple: keep your dog on leash and everyone is happy. Use the fenced in off-leash areas for your dogs.