Comment on Unleashed Dogs in the GGNRA

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area may finally start enforcing leash laws at the GGNRA: and you will have two opportunities to encourage them to do so in the coming weeks.

Off-leash dogs at the GGNRA negatively impact people, our pets, wildlife, and park resources. Imperiled wildlife like the western snowy plover are frequently harassed by off-leash dogs; guide dog users are regularly interfered with—and occasionally attacked—by off-leash dogs; and perhaps most alarmingly, hundreds of off-leash dogs have been lost, injured, or killed when they fall off cliffs, run into traffic, or otherwise lose their owners.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can make off-leash dog play areas that are safe for everyone, including our dogs.

The first step is to enforce leash laws in the GGNRA. Already animal welfare groups like the ASPCA, PETA, American Humane Association, Action for Animals, and Dogs Deserve Better have called for leash law enforcement at the GGNRA.

The second step is to design off-leash dog play areas within the park that are safe for everyone. In 2001 the California Department of Parks and Recreation conducted a study on safe off-leash dog play areas and concluded that this means enclosing the area with a physical boundary, so that dogs can’t run away from their owners and get into trouble, and so people can choose to enter these areas on their own terms.

You have two opportunities to help these recommendations become a reality. First, KQED’s Forum is collecting statements about how off-leash dogs impact your user experience while visiting the National Park. Let them know your story and encourage KQED to support leash law enforcement at the GGNRA.

Second, on January 14, 2011 the GGNRA will be releasing its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement on pet management at the GGNRA. This draft document will contain several alternatives for managing off-leash dogs in the park: and one of them will be labeled the GGNRA’s preferred alternative. Once released, the public will have 90 days to comment on the document. Keep checking for updates and more information as the process moves forward: we’ll provide you with an analysis of the draft document and help you submit your own comments to the park.

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