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Yk1 joins schoolyard dog ban
Superintendent says pet feces causing health concerns

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 1, 2012

Four-legged friends must now stay on the outside of all schoolyards in Yellowknife.

NNSL photo/graphic

Holly Wilton supervises students at St. Joseph School Thursday morning during recess. There are no dogs allowed on Yellowknife Catholic school grounds. - Katherine Hudson/NNSL photo

Yellowknife Catholic Schools has been barring dogs from schoolyards for several years but Yk Education District No. 1 created its ban just this spring, once the snow melted and revealed another winter's crop of dog feces on school grounds.

Metro Huculak, superintendent for Yk1, said feces deposited around where children play isn't healthy and the "no dogs allowed" signs are a preventative measure to attempt to alleviate the problem.

"We've been finding dog poop on the playground where the young kids play and that's not healthy for the kids. That's the only reason, sanitation," said Huculak.

"Safety's important. We don't want our kids getting sick or young kids eating dog poop or whatever ... The little kids are always playing on the ground and doing stuff and that is the only reason. If we hadn't been finding dog poop all over, then it wouldn't be an issue."

Huculak said the reason for the signs isn't to "get anyone in trouble" but to remind people that there are many other parks and trails in the city where their dogs are welcome, and the schoolyards aren't an option anymore.

Claudia Parker, superintendent for Yellowknife Catholic Schools, said their parks have been dog-free for years for two reasons: the feces and child safety. She said there is less dog feces contaminating school grounds since signs were posted warning dog owners to stay off, although both superintendents acknowledge they have few means to enforce the ban, other than ask people with dogs to leave.

"Some children are scared of dogs coming into the playground area when the children are out there. We don't want that. And also, as we all know, not everyone cleans up after their dogs," she said.

"There's no way of monitoring it in the evenings and weekends, so basically it's just we hope parents will look at it and follow it."

Tara Staton, who owns a Basenji hound and a basset, said she usual steers clear of the schools, so the increase in school parks that are dog-free doesn't affect her.

"I agree that it shouldn't be in the parks. We have trails, we have sidewalks, there are other options," she said.

"The only exception I would have is if they were on a leash, maybe tied off to the side. As long as (the owners) pick up. The garbage and the poop in this town is ridiculous."

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the schools' primary concern has to be for the safety of the children.

"There aren't many places where dogs can't go in town," he said.

"We live in a world of rules."

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