Some Montreal dog owners were stunned this week to learn the dog park they’ve been taking their furry friends to have suddenly outlawed barking.
Violators could be fined between $500 and $2,000, according to a new sign posted on the gate to the park at the corner of Jean-Talon Street and Provencher Boulevard in Montreal’s Saint-Leonard borough. The sign stipulates that “it is forbidden to let your dog bark, whine, or howl.”
“It’s too much, it’s really too much. I know it’s to scare people, but it’s not fair,” said dog owner Melanie Richer on Friday.
“It’s stressful, to be honest. I’m always looking around to see if my dog is doing good, she’s not barking too much … no it’s not fun anymore.”
The borough of Saint-Leonard confirmed to CTV News that while the sign is new, the bylaw is not. The sign refers to an article in the City of Montreal’s bylaw on the control of domestic animals.
“This sign was intended to help reduce the nuisance experienced by the neighborhood of this dog park,” wrote Anne-Émilie Thibault, a spokesperson for the Saint-Leonard borough, in an email.
Dog owners said Friday that they couldn’t believe the city would ban barking at a dog park and say it’s natural for dogs to bark while playing.
“My first reaction was, ‘What?’ It’s kind of ironic to see that we should prohibit our dogs from barking. It’s their way of communicating with each other and there are some instances where they are obviously going to bark,” said Tammy Pieters, another dog owner.
In March, the City of Toronto installed similar no-barking signs at the St. Andrew’s dog park but swiftly removed them after public outrage.
The Saint-Leonard borough did not answer several questions about the rule, such as who would enforce it. Dog owners are also looking for more answers, including why the city did not consult them first.
“I can tell you without hesitation that the people who come here are quite responsible with their dogs. So if we see a dog barking for more than 10 seconds, we’re going to go intervene. We’re going to see what’s going on,” Pieters said.
The borough said it is working on other measures at the dog park, including a new fence or hedges to perhaps limit the noise and making the fence opaque.
Some dog owners interviewed at the park on Friday said such measures were appropriate, but say the barking rule needs to go.
With files from CTV News Montreal’s Olivia O’Malley