Retractable leashes for dogs to soon be banned in Saanich after council decision

Retractable leashes for dogs to soon be banned in Saanich after council decision
Walkers set out for a walk with their dog in Saanich on Oct. 31, 2023.

At the end of Glendenning Road in Saanich, plenty of happy and leashed dogs can be found, but soon the type of leash you use for dogs in the municipality could be policed.

While discussing the People, Pets, and Parks Strategy, an amendment was introduced to ban retractable leashes.

“Retractable leashes are generally dangerous to both people, pets, and the environment,” Coun. Karen Harper said in Monday’s council meeting. “So there are multiple reasons for doing that.”

Council voted to ban retractable leashes across the entire municipality, with Mayor Dean Murdock opposing.

“I wasn’t personally supportive of removing retractable leashes as an option, but that is the direction that council chose to go with,” Murdock told CHEK News on Tuesday. “And that will mean when you are using our parks you are going to have to have your dog on a two-metre leash.”

Chris Dancey of Bone & Biscuit at Uptown says it’s nice to be able to offer a variety of types of leashes.

“I do sell them. We do get the request on occasion,” Dancey said. “As as retailer, having that offering is pretty important.  I think it’s become a popular item for those people that don’t want to do the tight-on-leash walking.”

The retractable leash ban comes as the municipality finalizes its People, Pets, and Parks Strategy. A final vote is expected next week on reducing the number of off-leash parks in the community.

READ PREVIOUS: Saanich walks back People, Parks and Pets strategy that sees off-leash areas reduced

But back at the dog trail at Glendenning Road, it’s the new retractable leash twist in the plan that has every dog owner talking.

Walking with eight dogs on the trail, Will Stringer said he doesn’t understand the retractable leash ban.

“They are a tool, just like any training item, it’s a tool for blind dogs, especially useful because they can’t see. So it gives them a tether back to mom. I don’t understand why they would just ban something,” Stringer said.

Some, speaking with CHEK News say they have heard that retractable leashes can be dangerous.

“I’ve honestly always preferred these, but I have heard that they are unsafe. So if they are genuinely unsafe for dogs, and owners, then I think that’s in the best interests of the public, and their canines,” said Mary MacDonald, walking with three dogs.

Others say they like the freedom that the leashes offer.

“I use a retractable leash. Retractable leashes are great.  I walk with them downtown. The dog can go ahead and smell,” said Louise Coutu as she and her dog headed down the trail.

Alexandra Harkness said the ban was introduced at a late point in the debate.

“It seems heavy handed because it hadn’t been introduced until last night. Which was out of the blue,” Harkness said.

Judy Krzesowski said she appreciates the freedom to choose.

“I never have used one. But one should be free to use one if that is what they choose,” Krzesowski said.

But Saanich isn’t breaking new ground. It is one of a growing number of municipalities across the country taking leash rules into their own hands.

WATCH MORE: Saanich pauses decision on reducing number of off-leash dog parks

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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