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)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, comments, dog, dogs, draft, federal, ggnra, golden gate, golden gate national recreation area, leash, leashed, national park service, off-leash, on leash, park service, pets, proposals, public hearings, restrictions, unleashed
Citywide pit bull bans are often knee jerk reactions — maybe even more so when a county sheriff”s knees are involved.
One week after Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale was approached in his yard by four dogs “acting aggressive and looking like pit bull breeds” — and fired a shotgun at them, grazing one — the Alabama city of Clay passed a “vicious dog” ordinance banning pit bulls and pit bull mixes.
The sheriff, according to a spokesman, fired a warning shot into the ground, then another round of ”bird shot” in the direction of the dogs, leading them to turn away. Animal control arrived to round up the dogs, and their owner was charged with letting them run at large. The dog hit by Hale’s shot survived, AL.com reported.
That incident prompted the city council in Clay, with a speed seldom seen in government affairs, to pass an ordinance banning pit bulls and other “vicious” or “dangerous” dogs.
The ordinance bans new pit bulls and mixes that include pit bull. Such dogs already kept in the city limits are grandfathered in but must be registered with the city in the next 60 days. The ordinance requires they be kept indoors and mandates owners post a prominently displayed ”beware of dog” sign. Owners are also required to have $50,000 in liability insurance. Violations can be punished with a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Having sought little public input before passing the law on June 3, the city council has gotten some since, AL.com reports.
A standing room only crowd filled Monday night’s meeting of the Clay City Council, with most citizens arguing the breed is not “inherently dangerous” and criticizing the law for unfairly penalizing responsible owners. Many, including a representative from the Birmingham Humane Society, urged the council to consider a non-breed specific dangerous dog law instead.
One speaker continued to voice his concerns after his turn to speak was over. When told he was interrupting, he continued his comments, leading Mayor Charles Webster — perhaps deeming him to be inherently dangerous — to ban him from the room.
“You are turning us all into criminals,” the man, identified as Mark Lawson, said as a deputy led him outside.
City Attorney Alan Summers said he would try to have a new or modified ordinance for the council to consider at its next meeting on July 1.
(Top photo by Jeremy Gray / AL.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, ban, banned, breed-specific, breeds, charles webster, citizens, city council, clay, county, criticism, fines, insurance, jefferson, knee jerk, laws, legislation, mayor, meeting, mike hale, mixed, ordinance, pit bull, pit bull bans, pit bulls, pit mixes, pitbull, pitbulls, reactions, restrictions, review, sheriff, shooting, shot, signs
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, board of supervisors, changes, crissy field, dog friendly, dogs, environmental, fort funston, golden gate, golden gate national recreation area, impact, leash, national park service, ocean beach, off-leash, park service, pets, policy, proposed, restrictions, san francisco, supervisors, unleashed
As we reported last summer, short-snouted dogs run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, with bulldogs heading the list of cargo hold fatalities, according to federal government statistics.
Bulldogs, pugs and other snub-nosed breeds for whom its harder to take in oxygen accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data showed.
Since then two air lines have stop accepting bulldogs as passengers, most recently Delta, which based on its review of animal incidents last year, has opted to no longer carry American, English and French bulldogs.
Of the 16 pets that died on Delta flights in 2010, six were bulldogs.
Animal advocates are praising the decision, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
“We’re pleased that Delta is being attentive and responsive to the particular animal welfare concerns with bulldogs,” said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the United States. Shipping pets in cargo holds “really should only be a last resort, when absolutely necessary,” he said.
Other major carriers have restrictions on bulldogs and some other breeds, or decline to carry any pets in their cargo holds. AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines only accept pets that fit in under-seat carriers. American Airlines stopped carrying snub-nosed dogs and cats last November.
Delta had already restricted a wide range of snub-nosed breeds from flying in hot weather, including pit bulls, pugs and Persian cats.
U.S. Department of Transportation data shows that 122 dogs died on airlines from May 2005 to May 2010. Of those, 25 were English bulldogs and six were French bulldogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, air lines, air travel, airlines, american bulldogs, animals, bans, breeds, bulldogs, cargo, cargo hold, deaths, delta, dogs, english bulldogs, flying, french bulldogs, health, pets, pugs, restrictions, safety, short, snout, snub-nosed, travel
Nearly 35 years after it banned dogs from downtown, Santa Cruz is considering allowing them to return.
The coastal California city, plagued by strays that were being picked up at a clip of 200 a month in the 1970s, banned dogs in its central business district in 1976, at the urging of merchants.
More than three decades, merchants are again urging change — but this time it’s to allow dogs back into the business district, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Today, the Downtown Association, which represents business owners, will discuss recommending the council overturn the ordinance while strengthening leash laws and other safeguards.
An association poll shows a majority of merchants believe they are missing out on business from tourists and locals who would bring their dogs downtown for a stroll or dining at outside tables, much as they do in well-known dog-friendly towns like Carmel and Los Gatos.
In Santa Cruz, dogs are also banned from some local beaches and the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.
“Forty years later, the council has the right to reconsider something,” said Mayor Mike Rotkin, who has served a total of 26 years on the council since 1979. “It’s a very different council and times are different.”
Former Councilwoman Carole De Palma, who voted for the 1976 ban, said the city should reconsider reversing the law because dog owners tend to be more responsible these days. De Palma, who owns a 7-year-old dachshund-Chihuahua mix named Pearl, said increasing safeguards could reduce problems that led to the ban.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, banned, business, california, central business district, city council, dining, district, dog friendly, dogs, downtown, ending, law, lifting, merchants, news, ordinance, pets, proposal, restrictions, return, reversal, santa cruz, shops, tourism, tourists