Is Kingston Dog-Friendly?

dogsLike people, cities can have distinct personalities. We learn about a city’s character and style through the kinds of communities it builds, the social projects it pursues, the type of economic industry that it dominates, and the variety of events and people it tends to attract. However, one of the most underrated (but surprisingly important) ways to determine a city’s personality is with its policies regarding the presence of pets in public spaces. In particular, that means the cultural attitudes a city’s residents have towards dogs and the nature of animal bylaw conventions upheld by its officials.

With that in mind, this week’s poll asks:

Do you think Kingston is a dog-friendly city?

  • Somewhat, but it could be better and there’s room for improvement (49%, 66 Votes)
  • Somewhat, but it should be more restrictive about pets in public spaces (20%, 27 Votes)
  • Yes (16%, 21 Votes)
  • No (12%, 16 Votes)
  • Don’t know/Not sure (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 134

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The answers to how and where and if dogs should occupy public space can vary widely from city to city, which makes sense. It is a quality of life issue that people frequently have strong feelings about. To me, Kingston seems like a bit of a mixed bag.

In some ways, our city can be quite welcoming to dogs and dog owners: there are a few shops in the west end and the downtown core that allow dogs inside; our city is full of beautiful parks that are perfect for playtime; and in many neighborhoods it’s common to see Kingstonians enjoying a walk accompanied by their four-legged friends. There’s even a special Dogs of Kingston page on Facebook dedicated to celebrating the city’s pooches.

But on the other hand, it can also be difficult to have a dog in Kingston: many of those aforementioned beautiful parks completely forbid dogs or limit their use segregated areas and on-leash zones; it’s not strange to see people distinctly go out of their way to avoid contact with dogs on the sidewalk and treat them like a threat, even when those dogs are calm and well-behaved; and it can be challenging to find rental accommodations that accept dogs, despite the fact that any “no pets” clause on lease agreements is void (and in fact, illegal) under the Ontario Tenancy Act.

What have your experiences been with levels of dog-friendliness in Kingston? Should Kingston’s relationships with dogs and dog owners be more inclusive or less inclusive? What would you like to see change–or remain the same–about the way we manage the presence of pets in Kingston’s public spaces?

4 thoughts on “Is Kingston Dog-Friendly?

  • Growing up in a rural setting, it was really common to see dogs walking (or roaming) off leash. In fact, my uncle's dogs got into some serious trouble roaming around unattended, often finding their way home with funny notes tucked underneath their collars from tolerant neighbours. That sort of this doesn't happen in Kingston as far as I can tell, and from certain angles (ie traffic), there's sound justification.

    On that note, while making the trip into work yesterday, I noticed a guy riding a bike alongside his off leash dog who was traveling on the sidewalk. It was a really charming scene, the dog was well behaved, and yet I couldn't help but worry about the consequences if the dog misses a cue to stop at an intersection. I personally would feel horrible if I hit an animal, even if I technically in the right.

    There's a lot the city can do to make Kingston dog friendly (ie more dog parks, veterinarians, doggy daycare etc…), however I would contend that owners play the most important role in shaping things. Irresponsible dog/pet owners give everyone a bad name, and result in restrictive and unfriendly provisions (ie licensing, limits on number of pets per household, fines for not picking up after fido etc…). If all pet owners naturally respected public/private space and used common sense, perhaps we wouldn't have to comb over reams of bylaws to figure out the letter of the law.

    • You're not seriously opposed to fines for not picking up after your dog in an urban environment?

      • No, I'm definitely not opposed to fines for owners not picking up after their dogs. My point was simply that it's unfortunate fines such as this exist in the first place. Ideally pet-owners pick up after their animals, etc… and there's no need for such bylaws outlining common sense. If I had a nickle for every time I've had to pick up other people's dog's poop off my lawn, I would be a rich man. Sadly, common sense is not always universal, but this is not a problem unique to Kingston.

        • Oh Harvey, if dog shit was money we'd all be rich. Then would come hyperinflation. And we probably couldn't pay for the dog food then. It's a vicious cycle.

          I'd like to take offense to a different part of this posting now, so let's all adjust our privileges and carry on.

          "it’s not strange to see people distinctly go out of their way to avoid contact with dogs on the sidewalk and treat them like a threat, even when those dogs are calm and well-behaved"

          Dogs are a threat until proven otherwise. Maybe these people are reacting based on a prior attack, or through a cultural bias, or a basic phobia. Maybe they just don't like dogs, which is a thing people are allowed to do. Your ability to own a dog does not come before a person's right to safety.

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