Officials in Canada’s most populous city have their tails between their legs after they were forced to call off an effort to stop dogs barking in local parks.
Inhabitants of Toronto are grudgingly accustomed to a daily soundtrack of city life: gridlocked traffic, rumbling trucks, heavy machinery and noisy neighbours.
But in recent weeks, visitors to a city dog park were taken aback by a sign asking for quiet.
“Due to the closeness of the area residents, do not allow your dogs to bark and disturb the neighbourhood. Excessive barking will not be tolerated,” the sign said.
Owners described the warning as “lunacy”, and questioned what would qualify as “excessive” barking.
“We’re at a dog park, so I think there being some form of barking or a little bit of commotion is highly likely,” Lee-Tal Hatuka told Global News. “I don’t know why anyone would think this is a reasonable sign.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the city appeared to agree, dispatching two municipal workers to the park to remove the sign.
“Although the sign was placed at this location with the intention of helping users of the off-leash area and neighbouring residents coexist harmoniously, we recognize that the information did not meet the mark,” the city of Toronto said in a statement. “The city will be reviewing its sign approval process to ensure clear communication in future signs.”
At another dog park in a downtown neighbourhood, a differently worded sign has remained in place.
“Please be respectful of the neighbours and deter your dog’s barking,” read three of the signs. Residents say they were placed around the dog park in the fall.
On Thursday morning one dog owner was philosophical about the injunction.
“I get it. When there’s enough dogs here they can get excited and get a bit loud and we’re near some apartment buildings,” she said. “And this sign seems a bit more polite.”
But as more dogs and their humans arrived at the park, her companion – a German shorthaired pointer – started barking enthusiastically.
“Hey,” she told the dog. “Read the sign.”