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PET CORNER: Halifax is not a proactive city when it comes to integrating pets into society

Why did Halifax Regional Municipality councillors even debate a proposal to allow dogs on the Metro Transit ferries that cross the harbour? Of course it was never going to happen.
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The Christopher Stannix ferry crosses Halifax Harbour earlier this month. A recent motion for a staff report on letting dogs on the ferry was voted down by Halifax Regional Municipality councillors last week. (RYAN TAPLIN / Local Xpress)

Halifax Regional Municipality councillors last week debated a proposal to allow dogs on the Metro Transit ferries that cross the harbour.

Why did they even bother to debate the issue? Of course it was never going to happen.

Halifax is not a proactive city when it comes to integrating pets into society, so you could see the defeat coming a mile away.

Sure, we have dog parks. But the big one they built at the Mainland Common a few years ago is ill-maintained. I stopped going there with my mutt as there were dangerous holes in the ground (dug by dogs, to be sure, but they needed to be regularly refilled to prevent injury to four- and two-legged visitors) and openings along parts of the fencing.

And off-leash parks? Sure, we have those, too. But like the fenced area in Clayton Park, they came years after most cities had established those play and exercise areas for our canine companions.

Try to open an eating establishment that allows pets, and, well, forget it. Granted, this is a provincial health standard — a silly one, to be sure — but as the largest Nova Scotia city, Halifax is most affected by it and, as far as I know, has never challenged the rule.

Long after many cities have established cat cafes or pubs that allow dogs indoors, we have none of that.

So, back to dogs on the ferries.

The idea came from Coun. David Hendsbee, not exactly known to be the most progressive councillor, but good on him for bringing this forward. Again. The idea has been on the books with the city for three years.

“HRM is a pet-friendly municipality and responsible pet owners may want to take their dogs with them, HRM should accommodate that need,” he wrote in his request for a staff report on the idea.

Sensing the hysteria some people feel about sharing their world — any part of their world — with dogs, he even threw in the idea of kenneling or muzzling dogs for the 10-minute crossing. Don't get me started.

I know there are inconsiderate dog owners, just as there are those who inflict their disruptive children on the world. Both should be banned from public transit.

Kidding (sort of).

Of course, a compromise could have been found if council had cared enough to look for one before defeating the motion.

Dogs could have been restricted to off-peak hours, and obviously only well-behaved leashed dogs would have been permitted.

Sometimes these things are over-thought.

Not surprisingly, pro-pet Calgary has allowed leashed and well-behaved dogs on its buses and trains for years with no time restrictions.

Maybe someday we'll have nice things in Halifax, too, dog peeps.

Pat Lee is a volunteer with various animal welfare groups and a freelance columnist. Follow her on Facebook at Pat Lee's Pet Corner. Email: patleewriter@gmail.com Twitter: @patriciagaillee



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