Coloured collar an early warning system
Okotoks: Local owner promoting unique program to identify dog characteristics
By: John Barlow
| Posted: Friday, Jan 18, 2013 12:13 pm
A colour-coded bandana system could help eliminate incidents between pets and people on Okotoks walking paths is the hope of a local dog owner.
Last summer Brigitte Blais was walking her four-year-old mastiff Diesel on one of Okotoks’ walking paths when a young girl came running up to pet the large dog. Unbeknownst to the child Diesel is shy and does not like being touched on the head.
Blais ensured nothing happened, but the incident convinced her something must be done to let people know whether or not a dog is approachable.
“When the child ran up to Diesel I was scared,” said Blais. “She didn’t know how to approach a dog.
“I thought wouldn’t it be nice for people to know what kind of a dog they are approaching?”
The solution seemed simple to Blais and over the last several months she has been developing the Dog Early Warning System or DEWS, which is a dog bandana colour coding system.
In essence, dog owners put one of three coloured bandanas on their pets when they are outside, either red, yellow or green.
Green, or Happy, means a dog is friendly and the pet owner is fine with other people or animals approaching their dog.
Yellow, or Moody, means people and pets should approach the dog with caution and ask the owner for permission first.
Finally, there is red, or Cranky, which means people and pets should not approach that dog as it can be aggressive.
In addition, dogs with red bandanas should not be allowed in Okotoks’ off-leash area said Blais.
Blais has applied for a trademark for DEWS and has established a website (www.dews.ca) to promote her program.
She said she has approached many dog owners and the response has been positive.
“Everyone loves the idea,” she said. “We need to educate ourselves.
“If I put a red bandana on Diesel I know I don’t have to worry because people will know not to approach.”
Blais said there are too many incidents in the community where animals and people are bitten and this is an opportunity to address the situation.
A dog was killed by another dog on an Okotoks pathway in August and the owner paid a $250 fine.
Dr. Marco Bregliano, an Okotoks veterinarian, said he likes the ideas and believes it has great potential.
“If pet owners are aware they can avoid confrontation,” said Bregliano. “If it averts even one altercation it has done its job.”
Bregliano said it will take a lot of education for dog owners to buy into the program, but once people see the bandanas on the pathways they will inquire about DEWS.
Blais said she is not looking to make the DEWS program a Town bylaw, but rather a community initiative Okotoks dog owners embrace.
“We want the community to buy into this and have people on the pathways recognize these bandanas,” she said.
Blais said she does not know how much she will charge for the bandanas, but she will donate a portion of the proceeds to local animal shelters such as Pound Rescue and Heaven Can Wait.
For more information on the program see www.dews.ca