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Respecting Wildlife in Off-Leash Dog Parks


Did you know that it is illegal for dogs to harass wildlife encountered in parks and natural areas? This includes barking at, chasing, and biting other animals.

All natural areas are home to a variety of wildlife, particularly off-leash dog parks, and it’s important to be respectful of wildlife for everyone’s safety. 95% of the patients admitted to AIWC are a result of human-wildlife conflict, including being attacked by dogs. We believe every Albertan should be a stakeholder in the care of wellbeing of our wildlife animals.

Here are some tips to help when visiting off-leash dog areas with your family pet(s):

  • Ensure your dog responds well to your voice, sound, or visual commands. This will help protect your pet from wildlife, cars, and hostile dogs.
  • Make your presence in the area known to wildlife by wearing a bear bell and/or putting a bell on your dog’s collar.
  • Keep pets in your sight at all times.
  • Avoid going near areas that look like den sites and areas that have thick vegetation.

One of the most common wildlife and pet encounters is when dogs attack porcupines. Porcupines do not shoot their quills, so for your dog to be quilled, contact has to be made with the porcupine. Which means the porcupine can also be injured from the encounter. And even if they don’t appear severely injured, bacteria from our pets’ mouths can still infect them and they should be checked out by a wildlife rehabilitator, rather than assumed fine.

Following these guidelines will help keep parks and natural areas safe places for both the dogs and wildlife who enjoy them.

If an encounter does occur, please report any wildlife who may be injured, making specific note of the animal’s location, transporting the wild animal to the vet with you in a box if you have one on hand, or leaving someone behind to keep an eye on the animal while our rescue driver arrives.  After calling the vet for your pet, call our wildlife hotline for the other animal: 403-946-2361

Remember, we all have a responsibility to both control our pets and protect our wild neighbours.

It all comes down to this:

“We don’t own the earth. We are the earth’s caretakers. We take care of it and all the things on it. And when we’re done with it, it should be left better than we found it.” ― Katherine Hannigan, author.

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