Open Letter to Kilcona’s Dog Park Community – Blowing the Whistle on Irresponsible Dog Owners
Once again there are howls of protest over the ever-increasing amount of unclaimed dog feces at Kilcona Park. Responsible dog owners and other park users are going public, using North Kildonan City Councillor Jeff Browaty’s “North Kildonan – Your Neighbourhood, Your Priorities” https://www.facebook.com/groups/2445830141/ to express their disgust and air their complaints.
On behalf Kilcona Park Dog Club’s Board of Directors, I want to draw attention to the fact that this situation is very damaging to the long-term interest of Kilcona’s dog park community.
At the same time that KPDC is asking for Councillor Browaty’s support in bringing clean drinking water into the dog park, and your Board is working on a proposal to present to City Council for a small expansion to Kilcona’s off-leash area, some park users can’t even clean up after themselves. How can we possibly ask for more land and more amenities when we can’t take care of the basics!
KPDC has made every effort to making picking up at the park as easy as possible. Over the past year, as part of our pilot project to improve the cleanliness of the park and address Kilcona’s reputation as the “filthiest dog park in the city”, KPDC in cooperation with our sponsor Royal LePage Prime has installed 6 waste bag dispensers. Our sponsor has purchased 82,000 waste bags. That comes at a considerable cost. This morning, your Director of Marketing and Communications delivered another shipment of waste bags to Kilcona park staff.
Making sure bag dispensers are full takes a lot of time, effort and coordination. A KPDC volunteer has to call the supplier in California and order the bags; then contact a courier to deliver them to Winnipeg; then make arrangements with a brokerage firm to pay taxes and other fees to get them across the border; pay for the product, the shipping and brokerage fees and arrange to pick-up the bags and deliver them to Kilcona so park staff can fill the dispensers.
Frankly, this is way too much work for a couple of volunteers, a community-minded sponsor, and Park staff if the end result is that the park is no cleaner than it was in the past. In light of the current situation, KPDC and our partners may have to rethink our role in supplying waste bags. Parks stewardship is the responsibility of everyone – not just KPDC’s Board and our partners.
On top of it all, Kilcona’s unique waste bags are showing up in litter baskets in other parks!
What Will the Board Do To Address the Problem?
The Board will sponsor Kilcona’s 16th annual spring clean-up in April or May (depending on the timing of the spring thaw) BUT only if the dog community is prepared now to do a lot more than just complain.
The Board will continue to promote responsible pet ownership and encourage community self-policing with programs like the “Number Two” Clue and “Second Bag” programs. Studies have shown that community self-policing is the only effective way to get people to clean up after their dogs.
In KPDC’s recent survey, 85% of respondents reported that they always pick up after their dog(s). In view of the amount of unclaimed piles of dog feces in the park, it appears that only responsible dog owners responded to the survey. We all need to work together to reach people who aren’t picking up after their dogs.
What Can Kilcona’s Dog Park Community Do to Address the Problem?
Kilcona’s responsible dog owners are the solution. We need to:
Educate, encourage and, if necessary, report irresponsible dog owners who continue to ignore the law.
Bring a whistle to the park and blow it to alert distracted or irresponsible dog owners that they need to pick up.
Bring extra bags and offer one to those in need. Use one of them to pick up an extra pile each time we visit the park.
Call out dog park users who help themselves to more bags than are reasonable. Remind them that most park users bring their own bags.
For those who’ve asked how to report dog owners that don’t pick up, here are Winnipeg Animal Services instructions.
Call or email 311 at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide:
Your name, address and phone number
The vehicle license number
The date and time that you saw the dog defecating off its property
A description of the dog