In an effort to protect sheep from dog attacks, the District of Metchosin will be putting up several signs early next week stating dogs need to be on-leash when using the Sea Bluff Trail that runs on the Stillmeadow Farm.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns says along with the three signs being placed at each entry point on the trail, the District has also asked Animal Control to have a higher presence.
The move comes after a number of recent attacks at the farm. Violaine Mitchell, owner of the farm, told Black Press Media that she loses three to five sheep every year to dog attacks.
Ranns says if dog owners don’t abide by the rules, animal control can issue tickets in the range of about $100.
In addition to the new signs, Ranns has also asked the Agriculture Advisory Committee and the Parks Advisory Committee to look at other trails in Metchosin that may need to have on-leash rules. He says with more people coming from other municipalities to walk their dogs in the area, the issue needs to be addressed. Those committees are expected to come back with recommendations in the coming months.
“It’s not like your dog has to be a pitbull to kill sheep, your dog can be any kind of dog [and still harm the sheep],” says Rann. “They can be run to death, they don’t have to be bitten or torn apart. They can have heart palpitations [and die] — I’ve seen it myself.”
Leading up to the decisions, Mitchell had a number of handwritten signs on her property and even went to far as to provide twine for owners to use if they were in need of a leash. In one week she had about five altercations with dog owners, and in one incident spent half an hour trying to get a loose dog under control that was chasing the sheep.