Off-leash dogs have been an ongoing problem in the City for many years. They can 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. 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.
This is a reasonable solution that is widely supported by Bay Area residents. According to a phone survey by Northern Arizona University conducted in 2001, 71% of Bay Area residents support enforcing the leash law at the GGNRA.
There are few issues where you’ll find Sean Elsbernd and Aaron Peskin on the same side. But this is one of them. In 2005, both supervisors sent letters in support of leash law enforcement at the GGNRA. Encourage the Board of Supervisors to continue this collaborative work by requesting them to support good dog park design and vigorous enforcement of leash laws.