Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Pet Expert: Consider Your Furry Friends At The Polls This Fall

Pet-friendly amenities in the Municipality of Meaford are features our community should be very proud of. Whether it’s the Beautiful Joe Leash-Free Dog Park, Memorial Park’s leash-free dog beach, the illustrious Georgian Trail, or our many picturesque hiking trails, there’s something in this town for every pooch, and every pet owner.

Meaford also abounds with prominent pet services, including dog walkers, world class dog trainers, indoor doggy daycare, pet groomers, veterinarians, pet treat manufacturers, pet photographers, and much more. For a town of approximately 11,000 people, we are a community rich in pet service professionals. Meaford is home to an ever increasing number of pet-friendly businesses, too. From banks, to restaurants, and everything in between, there are always pet-friendly businesses eager to open their doors to four-legged visitors.

The Municipality of Meaford has had a deep-rooted relationship with dogs for well over a century. In 1892, author Margaret Marshall Saunders wrote a book about a cruelly treated mongrel dog named Beautiful Joe. Written from the perspective of Joe himself, the story of Beautiful Joe became a beacon for animal rights and welfare, and was the first Canadian-authored book to sell more than one million copies worldwide. To honour this extraordinary true story, Beautiful Joe Park on Edwin Street was designated in 1963, and has been cared for by the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society ever since. Whether it’s the story of Beautiful Joe himself, the 9-11 monument, the Police Canine Unit memorial, or Paradise Island, this dog-focused tourist attraction regularly hosts visitors from all over the globe.

These are only a few examples of why our community continues to nurture and enhance its long-standing pet friendly culture – and for good reason. From reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, to improving cardiovascular and mental health (and much more), pets provide humans with a slew of health and mood-boosting benefits.

Studies have shown that pet-friendly spaces such as dog parks increase the welfare of both pets and people in communities; these spaces help to provide healthy social networks for pet owners. A 2021 study published in Leisure Sciences found that pet owners were over 75% more likely to walk more and explore their community more because of their dogs. Further, this study found that over 40% of dog owners had made new friends in their community because of their dogs.

Pets also help to break down many social barriers, like political affiliations, societal status, religious beliefs, and more, allowing people to create meaningful bonds over their mutual love for pets.

As new developments continue to move forward within the Municipality of Meaford, our dog community will continue to grow. This means the pet-friendly amenities we’ve grown to love will soon be at risk for overcrowding. Insufficient outlets for dogs to receive daily exercise and social enrichment may lead to a series of unwanted behavioural problems. Naturally, this may pose a safety risk for pets and people.

Meaford needs forward-thinking planning that incorporates the health and well-being of our community’s pets whenever possible, and that starts with ensuring pet spaces are protected, maintained, and accommodating for our expanding pet population.

A great example of this is the Beautiful Joe Leash-Free dog park, as it will be looking for a new home in the near future. Currently located beside the municipal wastewater treatment plant on Grant Avenue, this land is to be used for the plant’s upcoming expansion, so a more suitable permanent relocation of the dog park is currently up for discussion.

This, among other pet-related topics will most certainly be on the roster for city councillors. With elections for council quickly approaching on October 24, 2022, it is important for candidates to be mindful of the significant pet-related areas of concern in this town. As our community continues to grow, so must our accommodations and attractions for pet-loving residents and tourists alike.

Between now and October 24, take an opportunity to reach out to candidates for the upcoming election, to get a better idea of where they stand on pet-related issues, among other things.

Meaford’s well-established pet culture is one of the community’s greatest assets. This is something residents should continue to embrace, and encourage new city councillors to make well-informed decisions for the community as a whole, for now and for the future.

On October 24, make your vote count for yourself, as well as your pets!

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit

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