Dogs are banned from Hudson’s Sandy Beach after a man was attacked on July 11 by a “pit bull-type dog,” which left him with four puncture wounds in his forearm, according to CBC News. The next day, the mayor of Hudson, Jamie Nicholls decided to ban all dogs from entering the beach with numerous signs that indicate the prohibition. He said that it was his responsibility to protect all citizens of Hudson. I believe that banning all dogs at a dog-friendly beach is offensive to dog owners and animal rights in Quebec.
With Quebec’s new animal bylaw soon to take effect, provincial officials present a hypocrisy as they allow pit bulls in public spaces but ban all dogs at a public beach. Policymakers should either choose to grant full rights to dogs or ban all rights to them because it presents mixed information to the public, and can be confusing to dog owners.
I strongly believe this decision was merely a knee-jerk reaction. In other words, the mayor implemented this new rule in an impulsive and emotion-driven manner. This move can be perceived as a way to avoid all possible negative legal contingencies.
It is unfair for all dogs and their owners to suffer from the actions of one dog and its owner. Should we ban all bicycles from entering downtown if a bicycle accident takes place? No, because that decision would be demeaning to those who enjoy biking. They should not all be held responsible for it.
Some people would disagree and say that certain individuals have the right to extra protection against aggressive dogs, as they pose a threat to vulnerable people such as children and the elderly. However, the incidents of dog-human aggression is not as common as we think. In a study published for the US National Library of Medicine, only eight of 28 reports on fatal dog attacks in Canada from 1990 to 2007 happened in Central Canada (Quebec and Ontario). Therefore, the incidents of a dog fatally attacking a human is relatively rare in Quebec. I understand this worry but it should not be dramatized.
Many children enjoy playing with dogs. According to Pet MD, dogs such as collies and golden retrievers are among those who enjoy the presence of children. If we ban all dogs on a dog-friendly beach, we are removing children’s freedom to play with these harmless dogs. The ban could possibly decrease the number of people who visit the beach because of this.
Furthermore, dogs need to socialize to prevent aggressive behaviour. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, socialization is a key way to help prevent dogs from biting. Socializing helps dogs feel at ease in a wide range of situations. Thus, removing their right to be on the beach could make them more aggressive in the long run, which is counterproductive to what the ban is trying to achieve.
Instead of banning dogs altogether, there are other possible solutions to the problem. Hudson officials can ask dog owners to muzzle their pet before they enter the beach. This would allow dogs and their owners to enjoy their time at the beach while protecting others from harm.
Policy makers could also divide the beach into two sections: one for dogs and their owners and another for all other visitors. This separation will allow everyone to enjoy and spend time on the beach without conflicts. These two solutions are ways to compromise with both parties instead of blatantly removing the rights of visitors.
It is unjust to discard animal rights because animals are unable to speak up for themselves. It also restricts the freedom of dog owners to have access to certain spaces. Do we really want to prohibit all dogs in a space where they are perhaps the most joyful?