COQUITLAM, B.C., June 2, 2021 –Coquitlam is urging dog owners and walkers to keep their animals leashed and under control.
The City’s reminder follows a recent incident in the forest trails on Westwood Plateau involving a group of off-leash dogs being exercised by a professional dog walker.
According to Coquitlam bylaws, dogs must be on-leash in all parks, trails and public spaces – no matter how remote the area or how well-behaved the dog – except for in designated off-leash areas that are marked by City signage. Bylaw Officers patrol park spaces daily to provide education and promote compliance.
Sharing Outdoor Spaces with All Users
While the pandemic has motivated more people to spend time outdoors in the past year, this has also coincided with an increase in complaints about unleashed dogs.
Even remote or wilderness trail areas – such as Eagle Mountain and Burke Mountain – are now being explored by walkers, runners and mountain bikers of all ages from children to seniors, and off-leash dogs, particularly groups of them, pose a hazard to other trail users if they are not fully in control at all times.
Dog Walker Responsibilities
Anyone walking dogs in Coquitlam – whether their owner, a friend or a professional – is responsible for the behaviour of all dogs in their care when they encounter people and other dogs.
The City strongly recommends:
- Only walking the size of dog and as many dogs as you can safely control on leash;
- Ensuring all dogs have identification, such as a municipal dog licence; and
- Taking steps to prevent aggressive behaviour, bites or attacks on other people or dogs, both on leash and in designated off leash areas.
Professional dog walkers, like all others running a business in Coquitlam, are required to have a business licence to work in the city.
Regulatory signs are located at all major trailheads in Coquitlam, and dog walkers should assume leashes are required unless they see a sign designating an area as off-leash. Staff continue to assess local trail signage to determine if replacement or additional signs are required.
Risks of Off-leash Walks
Professional dog walkers, and people who employ them, should be aware of the risks of having dogs off-leash – particularly “pack walks” with multiple off-leash dogs. These include:
- Dog bites to people or other dogs;
- Dogs being injured on uneven terrain or picking up diseases from other animals or feces;
- Interactions with wildlife, such as bears, cougars, coyotes and even – in the case of smaller dogs – eagles;
- Dogs becoming lost, sometimes forever, in local wilderness areas; and
- Being held liable if the dog harms someone.
More information about leash requirements and off-leash areas can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/offleash. Information about the City’s Animal Care and Control Bylaw is posted at www.coquitlam.ca/animalcontrol.
Supervisor, Bylaw Enforcement and Animal Services
City of Coquitlam