City bans corrective collars from two off-leash dog parks

NANAIMO: Three-month campaign by resident aimed to protect dogs.

A three-month campaign by a Nanaimo dog owner has resulted in the city banning corrective collars at two off-leash dog parks.

In July, Judy Rozsas and her young Rottweiler, Angel, were at the Beban Park off-leash area when Angel and another dog became entangled in Angel’s choke chain.

In the struggle to free its teeth from the chain, Angel’s playmate twisted and turned, tightening the collar around the Rottweiler’s neck. Angel eventually passed out before passersby were able to free the dogs. Angel made a full recovery.

The incident left Rozsas shaken, and over the next three months she campaigned to have full choke chains, half-chokes (sometimes referred to as martingale collars), and prong or pinch collars banned from fenced-in off-leash areas.

Last week, with the backing of more than 300 signatures on her petition and several professional dog care and training businesses, Rozsas got her wish.

Training collars are now banned at the Beban Park and Northfield Road/Nanaimo Parkway off-leash areas.

“I’m happy with that,” said Rozsas. “It gives us two places we know we can go where we won’t encounter corrective collars. My goal was, when dogs are in an enclosed area, they’re not being trained and those collars shouldn’t be there.”

Nanaimo’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission agreed, and dog owners in non-compliance will face a $150 fine once the signs are installed next week.

Jeff Ritchie, senior manager of parks and civic facilities, said the fine is consistent with any parks bylaw.

“There is the same fine if any of our signs aren’t obeyed, such as no smoking and that kind of thing, as well as any other rule at our dog parks,” said Ritchie, adding that an animal services officer would have to be present to issue the fine. “A lot of these rules are intended to be self-policing at dog parks so we’re hoping that by putting it on the sign people will comply.”

Rebecca Preston of Nanaimo K9 training and rehabilitation, said, in her submission to the commission, training collars have their place, just not in an area where dogs are likely to play together off-leash.

“We are certainly not against (corrective collars) as a correction tool,” she wrote.”(We) want to bring awareness about the dangers of leaving your dog with a correction collar on when alone, inside crates and inside dog parks. If the collar becomes caught on something the dog is unable to free themselves because they are designed to synch tighter when pulled.”

Some professionals recommend that when dogs are left alone for extended periods of time, all types of collars should be removed.

Rozsas said that during her campaign, she heard of many stories where people had lost their dogs due to suffocation.

“It almost happened to Angel and I thought if we can help prevent future injury or death, then why not do it? Obviously a lot of people support that,” said Rozsas.

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