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Image of the Toronto Skyline taken inside the top deck of the Toronto Island Ferry. The ferry's interiors are shown in 3/4 of the picture.

PSA: Dogs Burn Paws on Toronto Centre Island Ferry

Close up of the Centre Island sign on a Toronto Ferry. Image is taken from the metal walkway as you line up to board the ferry.

"[The dogs] were stuck on that bridge, just screaming in pain. I've never heard an animal make a sound like this. When we finally got onto the boat it was clear the dog was quite badly injured, with raw skin and blisters forming on the pads of its paws. It was a large dog, and I can only assume that it was made to walk the rest of the way home on its injured paws."

Elizabeth Sozonchuk - a Scarborough woman who brought the issue to attention to the city. Quote from North York Mirror

Last week, during Toronto's heatwave, the experience of heading to Centre Island with your dog wasn’t so pleasant. Bystanders reported dogs scorching their feet the metal ramp while waiting to board on the ferry. On the island, some were heard crying and seen refusing to walk on paths to the beach because of the heat.

A complaint from concerned citizen, Elizabeth Sozonchuk, resulted in quick action from the city - rubber mats have now been placed in key areas to rectify this situation.

As reported by Alice Chen for the North York Mirror, Tony Fairebrother, chair of the Toronto Island Community Association, confirmed that he has seen mats on the metal walkways for the ferries, but not on the beaches. 

Visitors bringing pets to the island - be careful during peak hours and especially hot days on the island. Especially because additional funding to help cover pathways on the island with a boardwalk or other insulating material in the near future is unlikely to happen.

When asked about these issues, city councillor Joe Mihevc (Spadina-Fort York) told North York Mirror that the city overall is struggling with funding, due to an ongoing pandemic and drastically reduced revenues from the TTC.

“The city’s in a pinch and we need to [ask] the province to come in and help us or give us tools,” he said.

“It’s nice to say, ‘yeah we’re gonna do more maintenance,’ [but] the honest answer is the city’s broke.”

Close up image of a pair of dog paws.  The image has text that says "This Summer Keep These Paws Safe"

Beach Safety for Dogs in the Summer

Here at Doggos, we’re happy to see that concerns for animal welfare in public spaces are being addressed promptly by the city. But we also wanted to take some time to remind our readers of a few summer beach safety tips to help keep your dog safe while enjoying the sun. 

To your dog’s paws, sand on a comfortable 23°C day can feel like it’s over 37°C. When air temperatures reach 32°C, the sand can be over 48°C.

Cohen P. R. (2019). Beach Feet: A Sand-associated Thermal Injury to the Soles of the Feet and the Plantar Aspect of the Toes. Cureus, 11(12), e6429.

During intense heat, much like the temperatures we felt last week, sand temperatures can reach up to 60°C in the sun.

While our dog’s paw pads may be tougher than our skin, to keep your dog safe in this heat, always use this rule of thumb:  

If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. 

7 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe and Comfortable at the Beach

Here are a few tips to help keep your dog safe and comfortable the next time you're heading to the beach:

  1. Carry your dog to the water if you can to prevent paw pad burns

  2. Keep to shaded pathways

  3. Have you dog walk on grass - it’s one of the coolest natural surfaces available

  4. Consider purchasing dog summer booties to prevent paw pad burns (There are some from brands like Ruffwear, or Muttluks)

  5. Keep visits short - most dogs risk overheating when temperatures are above 32°C

  6. Bring plenty of drinking water for yourself and your pup

  7. Have your dog wear a cooling vest during their time in the sun (P.S. these ones from Ren's Pets are on sale this week!) 

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