ROSSLAND: DOG INJURES MAN DOWNTOWN
On Tuesday, February 16, at about 1:00 pm, a large white dog tied up to a post beside the Rossland Thrift Shop knocked down a Rossland senior citizen, who fell into a mud puddle, hit his head on the ground and suffered abrasions and cuts to his forehead and hands, knocked his glasses off, and was “pretty badly shook up.” The man had been walking down the path from the sidewalk to the parking lot when the dog lunged at him, teeth bared and snarling, and pushed him over. He immediately reported the incident to City Hall; staff there saw his injuries.
The identities of the dog and its owner are not known to the City or to the elderly man who was knocked down. There were, as far as he knows, no witnesses.
The man spoke to your reporter and said that he thinks he’s “a pretty tough old bird” but the incident was still very disturbing to him; and he said what bothered him most was what could have happened if it had been a small child the dog attacked, or if an elderly woman had been knocked down and suffered broken bones.
Some residents will recall that a just few years ago, dogs were banned from the downtown area, and had been banned for some time. The story is that there had been a level of discontent among some residents about the large number of dogs in the downtown core for a while, but the dogs were tolerated until one of them knocked down an elderly woman and broke her hip. As is often the case with older people, the broken hip probably shortened her life considerably and according to another resident, she died within the year. Rossland City Council passed the ban on dogs downtown shortly after the incident of the broken hip.
Years passed. Some people ignored the ban. Others complained that it was an inconvenience. The ban on dogs downtown was cited as a business disincentive, a discouragement to visitors with dogs. City Hall did a poll, and found that more residents opposed the ban than supported it. And a few years ago, Rossland City Council voted to allow dogs downtown again, provided they are on leash and not left tied up and unattended.
In fact, Rossland’s “Animal Control” bylaw requires all dogs to be — at all times – either contained on the owner’s premises or on a leash and under the control of “a responsible person.” Dogs are not allowed to be “at large” — wandering freely around the neighbourhood or around town. And they are not allowed to be left, unattended, tied up downtown.
Dog-owners do walk their dogs around town, and understandably want to do errands on the way: grocery shopping, picking up the mail, stopping at the credit union or the library or the drugstore or any other of our amenities. Or have coffee in one of our fine coffee shops. And since we can’t take dogs into these premises, we leave them tied up outside. Just for a little while, right? The dogs will be fine!
The dogs may be fine for a little while, but if they are left where they can jump up on passers-by, it’s NOT fine. Not at all. It’s also not fine if they can reach other dogs; even the most even-tempered and biddable dogs can take odd antagonistic notions and engage in fights that surprise their owners. No one could reasonably argue that an agitated clump of snarling, biting dogs downtown is a tourist attraction, even if all of them are tied up to something.
Can residents, even small children and frail and elderly residents, walk around Rossland without having to fear dogs “at large,” or even tied-up dogs on or near the sidewalks and pathways? Even happy, good-natured dogs can hurt people by jumping up on them.
Do we need to reinstate the “no dogs downtown” rule again? Or can dog owners take responsibility for ensuring that neither they nor their dogs cause more problems that result in Council banning dogs from downtown, again? Can residents repect City bylaws, even though the City cannot afford a full-time bylaw enforcement officer to mete out punishment for infractions?
Most dogs and their owners don’t cause problems. Unfortunately, it’s the few who do cause problems that result in restrictions for everyone.