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Vernon women conduct own dog park patrol

Pair unhappy with what they claim is regional district’s lack of presence in on-leash parks
Two Vernon women continue to call for the Regional District of North Okanagan to step up its presence for dog patrols at on-leash parks. (Jules Le Roux-Meyer photo)

Two women continue to hound the Regional District of North Okanagan over the lack of regular RDNO dog park patrols.

Donia Strand and Elizabeth Eckert launched an online petition mid-February requesting the RDNO enhance its presence of dog control in their parks due to dogs being off-leash in on-leash parks, creating safety concerns.

The RDNO said daily patrols on the parks and trails within its service area are conducted by its dog control officers. Daily patrols, said the regional district, are adjusted accordingly when receiving numerous complaints from the same area.

The reply did not sit well with Strand and Eckert, who decided to take a snowy weekend and conduct their own patrols.

The women set out for a tour of five RDNO public on-leash park areas, starting Saturday, Feb. 25.

Their first stop was Polson Park, where Eckert said there were “many cars in the parking lot, and it took about two minutes to see an off-leash dog running through the park.”

The dog, she said, was followed by a group of people about 100 feet behind, and the dog ran around the playground equipment in the park.

Next stop, Marshall Field in Okanagan Landing.

“There were many dogs running around playing in the off-leash dog park,” said Eckert. “However, two off-leash dogs were seen running and walking in the green space outside the off-leash park and in the parking lot. The area is meant to be on-leash.”

Final stop of Day 1 was the former Kin Race Track site in Vernon’s north end. Three medium-to-large-size dogs were seen off-leash running around the field, said Eckert.

Day 2 yielded similar results.

First stop was the DND Fields at the Vernon Army Camp and, here, Eckert – a relative newcomer to the North Okanagan – felt confused by the signage.

“The sign shows the area marked in white is the on-leash, indicating the rest is off-leash, which it is not,” she said.

Two off-leash dogs, said Eckert, were seen in the on-leash area, one of which was a medium-sized breed that approached both Eckert and Strand.

The last stop was the Okanagan Rail Trail at the Westkal Road entrance in Coldstream. The women said they saw a few dogs on-leash and were approached by two off-leash dogs.

“There was a lovely lady with an on-leash dog who was not friendly to dogs approaching which concerned us due to the freedom of the two off-leash dogs,” said Eckert.

In two days, the women said no dog control people were seen.

“Our takeaway from our tour is, the majority of the dogs we saw were off-leash, the signage at many parks is either absent, small and hidden or very confusing and no dog control was seen,” said Eckert, adding, “We would not have been able to bring either of our dogs to any of these five on-leash parks.”

During the past year, Eckert estimates she has visited Kin Race Track more than 50 times and has never seen dog control once.

The pair’s petition campaign has generated more than 320 signatures toward a goal of 500 as of 12 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Eckert and Strand plan to present their findings to RDNO directors at a meeting in March.

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