New Offleash Laws to Favor Dog Walkers Who Make a Profit

Categories: Animals
Carrey.png
Get ready for a lot more of this.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors might gripe about the seemingly onerous plan to severely restrict dogs from roaming offleash in areas owned by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

But when it comes to that key question of how to handle dogwalkers who herd packs of dogs for profit, the Park Service seems unusually lenient.

For years, the park stewards have tried to create a policy that limits free-roaming dogs in some areas. In San Francisco, where dogs far outnumber children, the Park Service's seemingly cromulent dog-reining effort has seen a backlash. 

Yet those who walk dogs for a living seem to have been spared, and they are actually treated kindly under the proposed rules.

Each commercial dog walker would be allowed up to six dogs in certain park areas, as long as the animals are kept under "voice control," which means owners should be able to stop their pups from disturbing people and wildlife with a shout.

In San Francisco parks, it's not unusual to see commercial dogwalkers trotting behind a pack of curs, which, in my experience, can turn into a dangerous situation. My young children were attacked three times by park-roaming dog packs who were supposedly being supervised by professionals.

In sensitive natural areas, the situation is even worse. Not only are humans at risk of dog bites, but the pack-frenzied canines can attack wildlife, not to mention degrade the habitat with dog poop. All of this generally makes a visit to the park an unpleasant experience for those of us who are not accompanied by a dog.

Why would the Park Service allow such a situation to persist? According to the NPS, "this alternative was selected because it provides a park-wide opportunity for visitors with more than three dogs to experience GGNRA."

For obvious reasons, environmental groups, and even the middle-of-the-road editorial writers with the Chronicle have called foul on San Francisco's peculiar let-curs-run-everywhere extremism. It's long been known that free-roaming dogs wreak havoc on wildlife.

If the National Park Service is going to permit a commercial activity that is known to harm wildlife, why not allow more benign commercial activities in these natural areas, like massage parlors or stands selling egg rolls on a stick?

According to Jake Sigg of the California Native Plant Society, allowing commercial dogwalking in national parks amounts to a giveaway of public patrimony to private, profitable interests.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Sigg says:

Commercial dogwalking has never been legally permitted on any of our national park lands. Commercial dogwalking will impact all park-user groups and set a dangerous precedent for all national parks!

Commercial dogwalking provides no service or benefit to any park users. In fact, commercial dogwalking will displace park visitors, of all user groups, from trails and other areas of the park. Commercial dogwalking serves only for the capital gain of private enterprises at the expense of the American public. 

The costs of administering and overseeing a permitting process, additional law enforcement, additional resource maintenance, additional public relations will be paid for by the American tax payer! If permitted, it is estimated that commercial dogwalking will bring over 1,000 dogs to the GGNRA and net more than $30,000 for dogwalking businesses daily! 

Say No! Speak up now and tell the National Park Service to keep commercial dogwalking out of our national parks. Comments are due by May 29, 2011 and can be submitted online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/dogplan.

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Natalee
Natalee

Dogs have every right to enjoy that park just as much as humans. If the dog walker is a professional, I am guessing he is also cleaning up after his dogs. I have been more annoyed seeing tons of duck and geese poop. Let the dogs have their day. People like to lie about their kids getting bite by dogs to try to make their point valid. Not sure what would happen since most dogs walkers who have multiple dogs would be aware of a viscous dog and not walk them in public parks.

jimminyc
jimminyc

Please Government Man, please oh please save me from life's  inconveniences.  Give me a law, give me a ban, anything to save me from inconvenience and the remote possibility that something bad may occur.  Slippery slope?  Who cares?  It's all for the greater public safety right?

Sean
Sean

Report Dog Bite(415) 554-9422

Max
Max

Thanks, Matt, for describing what does go on regularly in our green spaces. "Overly friendly wiggles" from someone in denial, aside, most of us have witnessed harmful situations-- a young jogger jumped on from behind by a dog weighing more than she did-- owner turned her back; dogs relentlessly charging birds while owner stands smiling; large dogs parading through newly planted sites at Palace of Fine Arts; small leashed dogs harassed-- the list goes on.Basically our city has passively allowed our spaces to be controlled by unruly dogs. Even our "progressive" Supervisors turn a blind eye to people with disabilities being left out. They would rather unleash their own pooches and turn away from the consequences.Thanks for giving some intelligent insight to a situation that needs to change. GGNRA will set an example for responsible land management. Something for our city make note of.

Eurydice
Eurydice

Bravo! Finally someone standing up for the rest of us. I'm a senior who gave up my local parks after I'd been attacked on multiple occasions (twice in one day at different parks) by dogs. In this city, the dog owners are more out of control and their dogs show it. Kortney is obviously a dog owner in denial. The dogs that attacked me were taken into custody because by the time the authorities came, the dogs and owner were gone. The dogs that attacked the guy landscaping the same park were also gone by the authorities came.

Yesterday, a dog owner stopped with his dog in front of my house, where the dog squat and pissed in front of my home. Not in the dog owner's home, mind, where anything that comes out of the rear end of a dog belongs, but in front of my home, where I smell it (and the pee of all the other peeing dogs that pass by, and drag it into my home). I politely asked the owner not to let his dog befoul my home, and he replied "he would TRY"; i.e., it was optional. I nearly replied that I would try not to put down the anti-freeze for the dogs that befoul my space, then go home.

It's getting harder to maintain my love of dogs in this city.

Canine Truth Police
Canine Truth Police

Eurydice:Where do you take a shit? Must be at someone else's home because certainly something that comes out of your rear end doesn't belong in your home where you smell it. Imagine the nerve of God creating a species like dog that has to rid itself of its waste products. The absolute unmitigated gall! Certainly birds, cats and humans are a much better model than dogs for the correct techniques in waste disposal.

"It's getting harder to maintain my love of dogs in this city." Your love of dogs? LOL!! LOLOLOL!!!!! That's a good one... LMAO!!!!!

Kelly
Kelly

So by Mr. Smith's reasoning, child daycares and preschools should also not be permitted on GGNRA lands as they too are making a profit.

Obie Daug
Obie Daug

Eurydice:Since birds crap all over my car, my house and my yard, do I have your permission to take out a gun and shoot them on site? (I'll have to Google search this but I don't think anti-freeze wll work on birds). Really!?! How far exactly do you want to take this? Do I have your permission to shoot all of the surfers who pee in the ocean and all of the homeless people who do likewise on sidewalks and in alleys?

Jan Scott
Jan Scott

According to this article "allowing commercial dogwalking in national parks amounts to a giveaway of public patrimony to private, profitable interests." Actually allowing commerical enterprises in a national park is a very old tradition. Grazing cattle on public land is the first to come to mind and what about all the commerical activity that goes on in Yosemite? Horse packing businesses go on all over the Sierras including in wilderness areas.

Vanessa
Vanessa

Activities such as cattle grazing and mineral extract are indeed allowed on public lands, but not on National Park lands. Commercial businesses, such as horseback, food and lodging concessions, are allowed on National Park lands as a means of serving and enhancing the experience of park visitors. As the posting points out, commercial dog walking provides no service or benefit to any park visitors.

Obie Daug
Obie Daug

Let's say that Mr. Smith's theory is true, and commercial dog walkers do create the relatively few problems we have in the GGNRA with respect to user conflict. Now consider the most insidious, malicious approach to the GGNRA's end game which is removing all dogs from the GGNRA. Why not provide professional dog walkers with a lenient policy (ripe for abuse) and combine it with a Compliance-based Management Strategy that will allow the GGNRA to eventually ban all dogs without public comment and PERMANENTLY, if they can document user violation of the law? The GGNRA is cunning, they are determined, and they hate the very park users this GGNRA was set up to benefit. Don't villify dog walkers, villify the GGNRA--they are the true malevolents.

Obie Daug
Obie Daug

"...the petitioner [Juniper Park Civic Association] has submitted photographs,news articles and affidavits which, taken in a vacuum, would lead to the inescapable conclusion that any individual daring to enter in or near a City park would expect to be harassed by marauding hordes of vicious dogs whose owners sit idly by viewing the carnage much like spectators in the Roman Coliseum." -- The Honorable Peter J. Kelly, Justice, New York Supreme Court - Queens County; JPCA vs. The City of New York et al; November 30,2006

Justice Kelly ruled against petitioner JPCA and for respondent the City of New York et al, with respect to the petitioner asking the Court to wipe out a 20 year tradition of timed off-leash recreation in NYC parks.

It is clear the judge could appreciate the exaggerated invective that the author Matt Smith and dog haters like Jake Sigg spew regarding a group of dogs merely playing a harmless game of fetch.

Allaboutpaws
Allaboutpaws

For every dog there are one if not two tax payers and owners and they too vote and pay taxers for their dogs to enjoy the parks.

Eurydice
Eurydice

Unfortunately, the dog owners don't pay for the damage their dogs do in the form of licenses or registration. And to make up for the huge liability that dogs are in this town, the dog owners should be paying a lot of special fees.

Not that even such fees would be enough.

TedEd
TedEd

Matt, my kids were not attacked by dogs in the park. In fact, GGNRA has never claimed kids are being attacked, you did. You also link to a paper in the UK for evidence dogs wreak havoc on wildlife. If you look closer to home, let's say in the dog management proposal being proffered by GGNRA there are no such claims. Dogs do not impede population growth of any protected species in the GGNRA. And commercial dog walkers are for permitting, and animal welfare groups are all for only licensed dogs in the parks. The hi, lo and middle of the road supervisors (all but one) sent a strong signal: the GGNRA plan goes too far. So do you. It's kind of extravagant that when every single federal agency is getting budgets slashed -- with the exception of Defense -- GGNRA is spending millions of dollars to write a plan and will spend millions more to enact it. Doesn't it seem more than reasonable to enforce current rules and work in concert with professional dog walkers for workable parameters?

Skydog9
Skydog9

By the way, your math at the end is way off: Most dog walkers charge $20 per dog and take them out for 2 to 3 hours a day. At 6 dogs per walker, that amounts to $20,000 spent for 1000 dogs getting exercise, socialization and recreation. And, that's approx 167 adults responsibly walking those dogs, earning approx $120 before gas, liability insurance, health insurance, vehicle maintenance, equipment, taxes, etc. Or required professional development programs.

Vanessa
Vanessa

Actually the math is correct. The posting states that over 1000 dogs will be walked commercially in the GGNRA per day. The actual number, according to the DEIS is between 1150 and 1200, depending on which estimation method is used. The average charge by local dog walking businesses, based on a random web search, is $26.35 per hour.

Kortney
Kortney

your kids were attacked by dogs in a park? inflammatory language like this does nothing to create an honest discussion, and just policy. if some dogs ran up to your family with overly friendly wiggles, possible muddying your blanket, then they were not under voice control. but to use the word 'attacked' is ridiculous. i know for a fact your kids have never been attacked by off leash dogs in a SF park because that dog (or those dogs) would have been taken into custody, held at ACC, and killed.

thanks for nothing.

Sean
Sean

My Kids have been harassed by these animals multiple times. I have been bitten twice while riding my bike of which no skin was broken.

In the last incident at Crissy Field, I could tell that the owner of the animal was panic stricken, not because of the fact that I was attacked, but by the fact that this owner knew the dire consequences that lay ahead for this animal if I chose to report it.

This animal did not respond to voice command.

If it not for the fact how distraught the owner might feel if his animal is destroyed, I chose to let it go telling the owner to PLEASE leash his animal.But reading the comment above, it would seem that animal owners live in denial of the frequency of which these violent encounters occur. To assert that Matt fabricating the attack on his family to enhance this story causes me to regret not reporting my own incidents.Be clear though, any future confrontation that I or my experience in the future will be reported. For the distressed owner of an animal that is destroyed because of such an attack, you can thank the authors of the comments above and below.

Matt and others, here is the phone number for Animal Care and Control

Report Dog Bite(415) 554-9422

Natalee
Natalee

Another animal hater. Dogs that are walked by people in parks or under verbal control do not run u[ to people and bite them. Geesh... why all the drama lies?

Pawsbythesea
Pawsbythesea

sometimes people really push it to the edge when they are trying to make a point to their benefit, absolutely those dogs would have been reported and punishment ensued, to both owners of the dogs and the dogs. I have seen kids running and screaming or over reacting when a dog is just curious or wants to play. Many of those dogs have their ownchildren at home and are very protective of children, and know that they always havegood stuff to lick off their faces. Its the parents that always over react in situationslike that.

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