Salty situation for dog walkers at Millard Creek

The City of Courtenay is hoping to quickly resolve an icy situation with dog walkers, after several people reported irritants and burns to their dogs’ paws after walking near Millard Creek.

Christine Kroshko, the manager of Pets in the City, a doggy daycare in Courtenay, said she was walking 10 dogs Monday on the boardwalk through the conservation area when she noticed a bad reaction from her companions.

“…Within a moment of stepping (on the boardwalk) the dogs began whimpering and limping. We turned back right away. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

She noticed the area was heavily salted and immediately pulled the dogs off the boardwalk and cleaned their paws in the snow.

Kroshko encountered other walkers who were carrying their dog out of the area because its paws were burned from the salt.

After the incident, she hand-inspected every single paw of the dogs involved (none of the dogs had further injuries), but said owners have to respond quickly.

“I feel bad, because some dogs are very sensitive and won’t vocalize to owners (they are hurt) and others are quite vocal – just like humans.”

As a protected wetland area, Kroshko noted the area is a very sensitive salmon habitat and is concerned with the amount of salt the city is applying.

“I went home and did some research, and there are coho, pink and chum salmon spawning there. There is a correlation to the salinity of water for spawning salmon and increased mortality and deformities.”

She reported the incident to the city and took to social media to warn other dog owners.

Anne Guillo, manager of communications for the City of Courtenay, said parks staff became aware Monday about the de-icing product used at the nature park.

“We were so sorry to hear that dogs were harmed on one of our trails. The city takes our responsibility to protect the sensitive ecosystem in this park very seriously.”

She added the city has been using the same de-icing product for some time, and is intended for walkway use.

While it is the first time they became aware of it causing an issue for dogs, staff believe the product was applied more heavily than usual in this area.

“To prevent this from happening again, parks staff have immediately discontinued use of this particular de-icer on walkways and are switching to a de-icer with a gentler formulation from this point forward.”

The city expected the shipment of the new product by Tuesday.

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