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Tag: off-leash

Golden? Yes. Silence? Not a chance

ggnra

How many human years have gone into figuring out just where and how dogs can play in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area?

We don’t know, but clearly the debate isn’t over yet, and won’t likely ever be.

The latest revision of the federal dog management plan for GGNRA adds some new areas that dogs on leashes can roam, subtracts a few areas where dogs could previously run free, and once again stirs the decades-long debate over where dogs fit in at the scenic, 80,00-plus-acre federal playground.

The new document is an attempt by National Park Service officials to address some of the 4,713 comments that poured in after the first 2,400-page dog management plan was released in 2011. “The tome,” the San Francisco Chronicle notes, ”outweighs many of the pooches that frequent the park.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in the Bay Area, dog talking amongst themselves are just shaking their heads and laughing about all the man-hours that have gone into figuring it all out: “C’mon guys, is it really that complex?”

Unfortunately, since it involves humans, yes, dogs, it is.

Especially when many of those humans see what they want to do on the land as paramount — be it dog-walking, bird-watching, jogging, hiking, biking, picnicking, ocean-gazing, serenity-seeking or soul-searching.

Between all those conflicting agendas, and its mission to protect the integrity of the land, the National Park Service faces a balancing act that has no end.

Its latest effort is a proposal that loosens some restrictions and tightens others when it comes to dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The proposal adds more leashed areas to the GGNRA and let dogs run free in new areas of Fort Funston and Fort Mason.

“It’s a substantial increase in the amount available for off-leash voice control use and connectability to the beach,” said Howard Levitt, the park’s director of communications and partnerships. “The trails themselves are on leash, but the off-leash areas are substantial, including flat open areas that are commonly used right now.”

Still, dog lovers, see its restrictions as overly severe.

“It’s far more restrictive than we ever would have imagined,” said Martha Walters, chairwoman of the Crissy Field Dog Group.  “We feel very betrayed by the Park Service, especially after all these years working with them in a cooperative manner. There is no scientific basis for this radical change.”

Recreation area officials said the changes are needed because of the increasing number of visitors — they now number about 14.5 million a year — and their conflicting recreational pursuits. Naturalists and bird-watchers, for instance, often complain about dogs trampling vegetation, frightening birds and harassing wildlife.

Adding to complexity of it all is the fact that GGNRA includes  21 locations spread over San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties; with 1,273 plant and animal species, some endangered; 1,200 historic structures, including 5 National Historic Landmarks; and 192 recorded archeological sites.

That leads to different doggy rules for different locations. Under the park service’s latest proposal, canines would still be prohibited on East Beach, but they would be allowed on the middle portion of the beach and on the east side of the grassy former air field. Ocean Beach would still be off limits to unleashed dogs everywhere except north of Stairwell 21, which is closest to the Cliff House. Off leash areas would be added to the grassy areas near Bay and Laguna streets, at Fort Mason and at Fort Funston.

Instead of a complete ban on dogs at Muir Beach in Marin County — as originally proposed — leashed dogs would be permitted. The six beaches in Marin County where unleashed dogs are now permitted would be reduced to one — Rodeo Beach.

The GGNRA’s new park, Rancho Corral de Tierra in San Mateo County, near Moss Beach, would allow leashed dogs only on trails next to the communities of El Granada and Montara.

Dog lovers say were expecting more when the park decide to review and reissue a dog management plan.

“People have been walking their dogs off leash on Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Muir Beach and many of these other coastal areas with no problems for generations,” Walters said. “Can you imagine taking your dog to the beach and keeping him on a leash? It doesn’t make any practical sense.”

A 90-day public comment period on the new proposals began Friday and will end Dec. 4, and a series of public meeting will be held in November. ( Nov. 2, at Fort Mason Center, Bldg. D, Fleet Room, in San Francisco;  Nov. 4, Farallone View Elementary School in Montara;  Nov. 6, Tamalpais High School, Ruby Gym, in Mill Valley.)

The final (yeah, right) plan is expected in late 2015.

(Photo: Crissy Field Beach in San Francisco; by Raphael Kluzniok / The San Francisco Chronicle)

Paris dog owners march for more off-leash space, and access to public transportation

parisdog

Paris, with all its pooch-welcoming restaurants, is generally considered a pretty dog-friendly city, but some think it could do more, particularly when it comes to park space and access to public transportation for canines.

At least 100 dogs and their humans marched outside the Louvre Saturday in a demonstration demanding more of both, the Associated Press reported.

Organizers of the canine-citizen march dubbed “My Dog, My City” estimate about 200,000 dogs live in Paris, but say that the city lacks the dog-friendly public spaces of places like New York, London, Montreal and Brussels.

According to the city’s website, two of Paris’ 20 sections have only one reserved public park space for dogs and both require leashes.

(Photo: Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press)

Supes say let dogs run in Golden Gate park

Let’s hear it for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

By a 10 to 1 vote, supervisors went on record opposing a federal proposal to restrict dogs in parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The National Park Service earlier this year proposed to “completely or significantly reduce” the off-leash areas in the recreation area to “strike a balance between park landscape, native wildlife and the 16 million visitors.”

The park service is considering mandating leashes in open spaces where dogs currently roam free and banning them entirely in some popular dog-walking areas.

Dog lovers responded to the proposal swiftly, labeling it “extreme environmentalism,” and even considered suing the federal government if the proposal passed, according to the website Curbed.

In early April, Supervisor Scott Weiner introduced a resolution in opposition to the proposed dog policies. This week, all but one of the supervisors voted for it — in part out of concern that restricting dogs on the federal park land could overburden city parks.

The National Park Service has proposed restricting dogs from San Francisco’s Crissy Field, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston, which are among the most popular places to take dogs in the city.

Federal officials are still taking public comment on the plan and expect to put new rules in place next year.

Seattle: Where dogs are king

To my list of top five dog parks in America — which for all I know may number 16 by now — I must add one more: Marymoor Park in King County, Washington.

This is what a dog park should be — not some over-landscaped half acre, not fake hills covered with fake grass, not a field of gravel or a stretch of pavement.

Marymoor’s dog park is about as organic as dog parks get — this is Seattle after all — with the only obvious addition to its 40 acres of nature being the tons of mulch on the trails to keep things from getting too soggy.

“Doggy Disneyland,” as some call it, is huge — and hugely popular. When Ace and I visited this week, we saw two jam-packed parking lots, and well over 100 dogs romping about, some in the river, some in the open fields.

Located on what used to be a farm, the dog park features several hundred feet of river access and numerous walking paths. It’s less than two miles from the main Microsoft campus, which is something to behold as well.

The Seattle area, just as it draws high tech companies, seems to attract dog lovers — either that or it sprouts them from its well-watered soil. The abundance of dogs,  the esteem in which they are held, and lots of hard work have combined to make it a good place to be a dog.

Seattle and its surrounding area started opening dog parks before a lot of cities even started thinking about them.

The Save Our Dog Area committee of Marymoor Park formed in 1987 when citizens learned the King County Parks Division planned to close the off-leash area.

It managed to convince the county that dogs and their owners were as deserving of some recreational space as soccer-playing kids, kite-flyers and picnickers.

In 1995, the King County Council voted to adopt the new Marymoor Master Plan which called for keeping the dog area open and operating. After that SODA, which initially stood for “Save Our Dog Areas,” became “Serve Our Dog Areas,” working to maintain the acreage devoted to dogs.

Within the city of Seattle, another group, COLA (Citizens for Off-Leash Areas) was formed in 1995, seeking permanent off-leash recreational access in some of Seattle’s nearly 400 parks.

After opening seven dog parks on a trial basis, the Seattle City Council in 1997 voted 9-0 to establish permanent off-leash dog areas, giving COLA the responsibility of stewarding the sites for the Department of Parks and Recreation. There are now 11 of them.

In our 17,000 miles of traveling so far we’ve seen a lot of dog-friendly towns, including the dog-friendliest, but the Seattle area, in our book, has got to be one of the dog friendliest big cities in the country … Rain or shine.

Running with dogs: All you need to know

Runner’s World magazine isn’t on my list of must-reads, anymore than jogging is on my list of must-dos, but I’m tempted to slowly walk out and get the latest issue right now — for it has gone (you guessed it) to the dogs.

Everything you ever wanted to know about dogs and running with them seems to be covered — from the top running breeds to how to avoid dangerous run-ins with dogs. It also has an interesting debate on whether dogs should be allowed off leash on running trails.

What are the top running breeds? Depends on the type of running you are doing. Runner’s World recommends weimaraners, goldendoodles, German shorthaired pointers, vizslas and Jack Russell terriers for long steady runs of more than 10 miles.

If you’re into shorter, speedier jaunts, go with a pit bull, greyhound, retriever or beagle.

If you’re running through more rugged terrain, or obstacles, choose a border collie, vizsla or Belgian sheepdog.

The magazine also suggests certain breeds for hot weather runs and cold weather runs.

Being Runner’s World, the magazine doesn’t suggest what type of dog is best for laying around and watching TV. But I can help you out there. Bulldog!

You can find links to all the dog-related articles in the issue here.

Family demands justice for Bear-Bear

Authorities in Anne Arundel County say they won’t file charges against a federal officer who entered an off-leash dog park with his leashed German shepherd and shot a Siberian husky who he thought was playing too roughly with his dog.

Bear-Bear, a 3-year-old brown and white husky, was playing in the Quail Run dog park at about 6:30 p.m. Monday when the officer and his wife arrived with a German shepherd, who was kept on a leash.

According to the Baltimore Sun, when the dogs began to play roughly, the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian — the brother of the dog’s owner – to call off the dog. Then, seconds later, he pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.

Bear-Bear died of his injuries a few hours later.

Anne Arundel County police, astonishingly, have not named the federal officer, and — equally astonishingly — say no charges will be filed against him. No further investigation appears to be taking place.

“I’ve been bawling my eyes out since 7 p.m. last night,” Rachel Rettaliata, Bear-Bear’s owner, told the Sun. “It’s grief mixed with anger. We’re so angry this guy was able to take our animal for what we feel was no reason at all…We still don’t believe that he’s gone. We just want so badly to be diligent about this. [The officer] has to pay some sort of consequence for his foolishness.”

Rettaliata adopted Bear-Bear about two years ago from a husky rescue. He’d been seized from a Delaware home where people had tied him up outside and neglected him.

Bear-Bear was a regular at the dog park in Quail Run, a community of townhomes. Neighbors say the park is generally an easygoing place where well-mannered dogs play with one another.

“I’ve never personally seen him be aggressive toward any dog or human or anything, for that matter,” Tarnna Hernandez, who lives two doors down from the Rettaliatas, told the Sun.

“I have not seen that dog hurt anyone. Or snarl. He’s never even barked,” she said. “His only way was to get out a gun out and shoot him? Uh-uh. It’s completely unbelievable.”

The manager of the homeowner’s association, Dorothy Pearce, called the shooting “tragic…A community of homeowners with children playing around should not have gun-crazy, off-duty policemen shooting in their area, especially a dog in a controllable situation.”

According to Rettaliata, Bear-Bear didn’t cry out when shot.  “He just went and laid down,” she said.

Carolyn Kilborn, chairwoman of Maryland Votes for Animals, based in Annapolis, said the case should be further investigated.

“The killing of the dog in Severn is a sad situation that should be investigated carefully to determine if the incident was caused by a dangerous dog or a dangerous person,” she said.

A “Justice for Bear-Bear” Facebook page has been established, encouraging concerned citizens to contact county authorities through this email address.

Memphis opens first dog park this weekend

It might not have all the fancy features some doggie playgrounds do — or for that matter even running water — but the city of Memphis is finally getting around to opening its first official dog park this weekend.

The Division of Park Services announced they will open their first dog park Saturday. It’s located at 2599 Avery Avenue, behind the Board of Education.

The off-leash fenced in park has an area designated for dogs under 25 pounds and an adjoining one for dogs over 25 pounds.

Hours of operation for the park will be 6 a.m to 8 p.m. in the summer, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter.

“The Memphis Dog Park is something that we have been wanting to provide to the citizens of Memphis for some time,” said Cindy Buchanan, Director of Park Services.

The city’s first dog park will serve as a test site for future projects, Fox News in Memphis reported.

All dogs must be licensed and vaccinated, and each owner is responsible for the behavior and action of their dog.