It’ll be all paws on deck at the Takhini Arena
Who let the dogs in?
Who let the dogs in?
The city is once again letting canines into the mezzanine of Takhini Arena.
The city initially stood by its 2012 policy to keep all canines, except service dogs, out of city-operated facilities.
However, the city announced Wednesday afternoon that dog training groups will be permitted back in the rink space it had used during the winter months in previous years.
The access will be for a one-year trial basis.
“It’s a compromise,” Chris Milner, the city’s indoor facilities manager, said in an interview this morning.
The city began banning the animals from facilities it operates in April 2012 after granting an extension from the originally proposed date of Jan. 1, 2012.
Last August, dog groups, which have used the mezzanine through the winter for more than 20 years for training, asked council for a further extension until a permanent location could be found.
Council stood by the policy, instead offering the services of a facilitator to a maximum of $5,000 to help the groups move forward in finding a new space.
Numerous health and safety reasons were cited as the reason for the ban.
They ranged from allergies to dog hair getting into ducts to the interactions between dogs and other arena users.
Milner said the reality of the situation is that it’s been a little over a year of the groups looking for a new training facility with no other options found.
Whitehorse has a large dog population, and there’s a huge interest in supporting having canines that are well-trained.
“Their case was pretty compelling,” said Milner, who took his job with the city after the ban had been put in place.
As Mayor Dan Curtis noted in a statement: “City council is keen to encourage responsible dog ownership. It is clear that this type of training contributes to the overall safety of the city’s residents and public spaces.”
While the city will continue to ban pets other than service dogs from the facilities it operates, the Dog Handlers’ Facility Group (made up of a number of dog groups) will be exempt from the ban.
Access to the mezzanine will be provided by a side door at the rink rather than the main entrance.
That will help address the concerns over interactions between the dogs and other arena users, Milner said.
As for the other issues cited as the reason behind the ban, Milner noted the city will do periodic air quality testing, and extra attention will be given to cleaning up the mezzanine following use of the space.
Milner pointed out the city has the option of charging extra on top of rent to have the space cleaned up if needed.
Glenn Wadsworth, chair of the Dog Handlers’ Facility Group, said in a statement he’s pleased the city agreed to allow them back into the rink.
“Access to the Takhini Arena mezzanine will allow us to deliver a number of dog-related courses that have as their goal well-behaved and disciplined dogs.”