‘It was disgusting’: Are people not picking up their dog’s poop in the Huntsville Lake of Bays area?

Dog poop being left where it lies has one Huntsville dog walker changing where she takes her furry wards.

“I used to go to dog parks before, but it was disgusting. I do notice more poop in dog parks — people aren't picking up,” said Michelle Smith, a Huntsville resident and the owner of Muskoka Tail Walker.

Smith, who has been in business for over three years in Muskoka and has experience walking dogs in Toronto, said she now walks dogs on the private trails customers allow her to use as dog parks do not give her peace of mind.

“It's only my experience, but sometimes people bring dogs that are not friendly. Too many fights and also diseases because — again — people aren't picking up the dog poop, so they could get sick,” said Smith.

“As the business grew and I had more dogs, I just went on private trails to keep them safe.”

Both the Township of Lake of Bays and The Town of Huntsville currently have bylaws stipulating those with pets must immediately remove and dispose of any excrement their dog leaves. Failing to clean up after a dog could mean a $100 fine in Lake of Bays, and $125 in Huntsville, according to municipal staff.

Last year, Lake of Bays received 26 complaints regarding dogs — none involving excrement — while Huntsville received 10 reporting people not picking up after their dogs.

“When these complaints are received, and the dog owner is known, we contact the dog owner to educate them about the requirement for the excrement to be picked up,” Corey Crewson, Huntsville's senior bylaw enforcement officer, wrote in an email.

Although bylaws are currently in place to control dog owners not picking up after their pets, Smith says municipalities could find alternatives to prevent public parks and trails from becoming littered with excrement or other debris.

“I also walk two little dogs on a sidewalk at the hill going down to Wendy's — Center St. N, and I've noticed there is a lot of poo there and no garbage bin,” she said. “A garbage can or a bag dispenser can help. I know many dog parents forget to bring bags — they can be forgetful.”

Both municipalities have bylaw officers keeping an eye out for those not following the rules when they are on duty, and the public can also report a possible violation by using the municipality's concern form found or Lake of

“Details of where it has occurred and a description of the dog or owner are important to include when filing a concern or complaint,” Huntsville's manager of marketing and communications, Lisa Spolnik, wrote in an email.

If a member of the public has any concerns about the control of an animal in Huntsville, they can read the full bylaw here. For Lake of Bays, click here.

Julian Orlando Chaves, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Huntsville Forester