ggdog.jpg“I heard very loud, deep barking, and then a woman who sounded like she was clearly in distress….yelling and screaming,” said runner Lisa Brown-Kinsella, a witness of the dog attacks in Golden Gate Park last week.

Brown-Kinsellam who was just a few feet away from the actual incident, tells the Appeal that the experience has prompted her to seek out resources to help runners deal with dogs.

A regular morning runner through the park, Brown-Kinsella said she was coming back from her routine Thursday morning run along John F. Kennedy Drive at around 6:30 a.m.

Right before hitting the Crossover Drive traffic bridge, another female runner casually warned her of some “loose, aggressive” dogs just beyond the bridge. Brown-Kinsella thanked her and continued to run under the bridge with heightened awareness of her surroundings. Shortly after stopping to fill her water bottle at a nearby fountain, she heard barks and screaming.

She said she had a fight or flight response and instinctively ran away towards the streets. “When I got to Fulton, I could still year woman yelling and screaming,” she said. She immediately started ringing people’s doorbells to get them to call the police. Just when a man opened his door and took out his cell phone to dial, police sirens could be heard. “I instantly felt a little relieved that help was on the way,” she said.

After confirming times with other news accounts, she speculates that the screams she heard was from the third victim, who reportedly had her clothes torn by the dog around 6:40 a.m.

Brown-Kinsella, who’s a dog lover, said she fears “incidents like this create a backlash against dogs.” “I’m concerned about people turning their anger toward the dog and rushing to judgment about animals like pit bulls. I’m still afraid of the situation, but I don’t blame the dog. I think the problem is on the other end of the leash with the way the dogs have been raised or trained,” she said.

After this experience, Brown-Kinsella, a member of the San Francisco Road Runner’s Club , suggested they should find resources to help club members with dog encounters. She contacted club president Julie Knox who said the club plans to meet with the San Francisco Police Department to have an informational training on how to deal with potentially aggressive dogs while running.

However, it might not be that simple — according to Animal Care and Control spokesperson Deb Campbell, while the ACC has tips for pedestrians to manage coyote encounters, they don’t have formalized recommendations for walkers/runners to deal with aggressive dogs.

A lot of this is due to the differences in behavior Campbell says is related to breed. “Pit bulls are bred to fight” Campbell said “in the same way retrievers are bred to retrieve.” While many of us know pits we adore, Campbell says the instinct to attack is in the breed’s nature the same way herding is in even the most urban sheepdog’s DNA.

And with that comes an unpredictability and aggression that can make a poorly trained or unsupervised pit bull dangerous. “They can get very aroused and stay aggressive for a long time” says Campbell, who declined to speculate on what motivated last week’s attacks.

When asked what she would do if on foot and confronted with a dog that behaved threateningly, Campbell said “I’d get something between me and it, like a car, or I’d go high.” For her part, Brown-Kinsella has done some research and passed along this Runner’s World article with tips on how to react during an encounter with a dog.

While Campbell understands that this recent incident has people frightened, she reminds us that “the incidence of dog attacks in San Francisco is very low.” When asked about reports that homeless people “have illegally breeding pit bulls and other canines for sale” in a Golden Gate Park encampment, she said that those reports did not come from the ACC, and that they “have not been pulling puppies out of the Park.”

As for the dogs from last week’s incident, since their owner has not come forward to claim them, they face an additional 10 day observation period for rabies monitoring.

“We haven’t had a case of rabies in San Francisco in over 70 years, so it’s highly unlikely that that’s an issue” said Campbell “but we’re legally required” to watch the dogs for symptoms of the disease until July 11. And after that date, she says, unless their owner comes forward, their fates will be decided by ACC officials.

Eve Batey contributed additional reporting to this story.

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  • sandyvandam

    Had Brown-Kinsella had the guts to run toward the screams and try to help the woman, she might have a bit more cred when she says, “oh gee, I hope they don’t hate pit bulls just because they attack people.” Well, not really.

    “while the ACC has tips for pedestrians to manage coyote encounters, they don’t have formalized recommendations for walkers/runners to deal with aggressive dogs.”

    Very telling – wild animals are less dangerous than “unsupervised” pit bulls. Do we get it yet? They must be banned.

  • sandyvandam

    Had Brown-Kinsella had the guts to run toward the screams and try to help the woman, she might have a bit more cred when she says, “oh gee, I hope they don’t hate pit bulls just because they attack people.” Well, not really.

    “while the ACC has tips for pedestrians to manage coyote encounters, they don’t have formalized recommendations for walkers/runners to deal with aggressive dogs.”

    Very telling – wild animals are less dangerous than “unsupervised” pit bulls. Do we get it yet? They must be banned.

  • Eve Batey

    What an odd remark to make, to say that not running towards “loud deep barking” and “yelling and screaming” is indicative of a lack of guts! I have a hard time imagining who — certainly neither the SFPD not the ACC — would suggest that anyone run towards that.

    I don’t care if the barking is coming from a poodle* (not that I would know the breed just from hearing the barks, but I am not a dogologist), I wouldn’t run towards it! Perhaps I am gutless, too?

    It’s clear from your remarks that you have strong feelings on pit bulls, and I’m sure many people share your beliefs. It would be great to discuss this! But to express those concerns by attacking a witness to the incident does your position no favors.

    *Disclosure: a poodle bit my brother’s nose nearly clean off once, I am serious. It was the damndest thing! Poor guy still has a scar.

  • Eve Batey

    What an odd remark to make, to say that not running towards “loud deep barking” and “yelling and screaming” is indicative of a lack of guts! I have a hard time imagining who — certainly neither the SFPD not the ACC — would suggest that anyone run towards that.

    I don’t care if the barking is coming from a poodle* (not that I would know the breed just from hearing the barks, but I am not a dogologist), I wouldn’t run towards it! Perhaps I am gutless, too?

    It’s clear from your remarks that you have strong feelings on pit bulls, and I’m sure many people share your beliefs. It would be great to discuss this! But to express those concerns by attacking a witness to the incident does your position no favors.

    *Disclosure: a poodle bit my brother’s nose nearly clean off once, I am serious. It was the damndest thing! Poor guy still has a scar.

  • Sarah Fidelibus

    It sounds like Brown-Kinsella–like me–does not take her phone with her while running. Kudos to her for having the presence of mind to knock on doors. It is unlikely (to say the least) that she would have been able to pull the dogs off of anyone they were attacking. Getting neighbors to call for help assured that people who *could* provide assistance (police) were on the way.

    This story has definitely made me realize that I need to start bringing my phone with me when I run, in case of any emergency that might crop up. Normally, I’m not fearful of dogs (in fact, I adore dogs–all kinds), but yesterday I did cross to the other side of the Panhandle when I saw two pit bulls very aggressively playing with each other. They were forceful and “all worked up,” rolling around and growling, and the large crowd around them seemed too into their pot-smoking to care about what the dogs were doing. This story was very much on my mind when I decided not to pass close to the dogs.

  • Sarah Fidelibus

    It sounds like Brown-Kinsella–like me–does not take her phone with her while running. Kudos to her for having the presence of mind to knock on doors. It is unlikely (to say the least) that she would have been able to pull the dogs off of anyone they were attacking. Getting neighbors to call for help assured that people who *could* provide assistance (police) were on the way.

    This story has definitely made me realize that I need to start bringing my phone with me when I run, in case of any emergency that might crop up. Normally, I’m not fearful of dogs (in fact, I adore dogs–all kinds), but yesterday I did cross to the other side of the Panhandle when I saw two pit bulls very aggressively playing with each other. They were forceful and “all worked up,” rolling around and growling, and the large crowd around them seemed too into their pot-smoking to care about what the dogs were doing. This story was very much on my mind when I decided not to pass close to the dogs.

  • dhk

    Hey Sarah:

    Speaking as her husband, she does. Now. We had quite the chat about that…

  • dhk

    Hey Sarah:

    Speaking as her husband, she does. Now. We had quite the chat about that…

  • Eve Batey

    Word to you both on bringing your phone when you run — but I urge y’all not to think of that as a magic bullet! As a park-adjacent person (and dog walker/intermittent runner) I can tell you that reception can be very bad in the area.

    I’m not trying to fear-mong! I’m just saying that having a backup plan is important — and, personally, I think running in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of threatening situations is even more so.

  • Eve Batey

    Word to you both on bringing your phone when you run — but I urge y’all not to think of that as a magic bullet! As a park-adjacent person (and dog walker/intermittent runner) I can tell you that reception can be very bad in the area.

    I’m not trying to fear-mong! I’m just saying that having a backup plan is important — and, personally, I think running in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of threatening situations is even more so.

  • bradpipal

    Dogs don’t charge into mace or pepper spray. They run from it……..

  • bradpipal

    Dogs don’t charge into mace or pepper spray. They run from it……..

  • lindseysafensecureproducts

    There are actually several items you can use to protect yourself from a dog attack. Besides canine pepper spray, there is a pepper spray gun that sprays from 25 feet away. There is also the ultrasonic dog chaser and even a stun baton that extends to 21.5 inches and is electrified all up and down the extension. People need to be prepared for these kinds of situations.

    It’s unfortunate that dog owners are so irresponsible as to let their dogs run loose or turn them loose to fend for themselves. It’s ridiculous to blame the dogs. They are only aggressive because they have been taught to be that way either purposely by the owner or in order to defend themselves against people who have abused them. Even dogs that are bred to fight know the difference between another dog and a human. Dogs are not born aggressive toward humans. They are taught that by humans one way or another.

    People need to stop blaming the dogs and focus on the owners, if they can be found. Anyone with a vicious dog that has bitten or attacked someone without provocation should have the dog removed from them, they should face some form of punishment and fine and they should be banned from ever owning another dog.

  • lindseysafensecureproducts

    There are actually several items you can use to protect yourself from a dog attack. Besides canine pepper spray, there is a pepper spray gun that sprays from 25 feet away. There is also the ultrasonic dog chaser and even a stun baton that extends to 21.5 inches and is electrified all up and down the extension. People need to be prepared for these kinds of situations.

    It’s unfortunate that dog owners are so irresponsible as to let their dogs run loose or turn them loose to fend for themselves. It’s ridiculous to blame the dogs. They are only aggressive because they have been taught to be that way either purposely by the owner or in order to defend themselves against people who have abused them. Even dogs that are bred to fight know the difference between another dog and a human. Dogs are not born aggressive toward humans. They are taught that by humans one way or another.

    People need to stop blaming the dogs and focus on the owners, if they can be found. Anyone with a vicious dog that has bitten or attacked someone without provocation should have the dog removed from them, they should face some form of punishment and fine and they should be banned from ever owning another dog.

  • Jayne Ami

    I just wanted to say that maybe women should not be running alone at 6:30 in the AM. I am sure if it was a man running they would know what do do and these attacks would not happen. The lady that reported it obviously was scared and dogs sense this.
    Next time run with someone or with a man.
    Not the dogs fault!

  • Jayne Ami

    I just wanted to say that maybe women should not be running alone at 6:30 in the AM. I am sure if it was a man running they would know what do do and these attacks would not happen. The lady that reported it obviously was scared and dogs sense this.
    Next time run with someone or with a man.
    Not the dogs fault!

  • Angela May Chen

    I don’t think being a man would automatically mean you know what to do in situations like these. I mean women are completely capable of finding ways to protect themselves when they run, too. A man probably would’ve ran away as fast as possible as well. I’ve read that, counter intuitively, running actually triggers a dog to chase you more so than slowing down and walking. Perhaps we all just need to be more aware of how to deal with dogs.

  • Angela May Chen

    I don’t think being a man would automatically mean you know what to do in situations like these. I mean women are completely capable of finding ways to protect themselves when they run, too. A man probably would’ve ran away as fast as possible as well. I’ve read that, counter intuitively, running actually triggers a dog to chase you more so than slowing down and walking. Perhaps we all just need to be more aware of how to deal with dogs.

  • paprikapink

    No banning or outlawing or rule-making is going to stop dogs from being a potential danger that runners have to be prepared for. Unless we somehow manage to rid the world of dogs altogether. Or maybe we’d do better to rid the world of runners…. Neither of these ridiculous extremes solves anything. Any dog, no matter how well-bred and well-trained and well-cared for, might respond in a dangerous and/or frightening way to a person running. The perfectly plausible scenarios are endless — dog protecting a new baby; dog sees another dog playfully chasing and gets the wrong idea; dog’s fence blows down and it finds itself unexpectedly at liberty in the wide world…. And none of those scenarios justify blaming anyone, dog or owner.

    Animal lovers are a lot like English Majors. They measure their love by considering their version The Correct One, and those whose love (or grammar, or spelling) is expressed differently just don’t love as well and are bad and not as good and neener-neener-I-am-holier-than-thou. I believe you can love animals and still have some compassion for humans. You can even love animals and consider a particular dog an asshole, pure and simple. I mean, really, they are individuals — they can’t all be noble help-meets; that’d be boring and kinda sick.

    Runners have got to carry protection. One commenter mentioned several products — pepper spray, some sonic thing, a stun gun…maybe you could use a phaser? — to deter the random, typical dog from pursuing and/or injuring you. And runners should be able to use these non-harmful but very discouraging deterrents with impunity. Even if you find out afterwards that Fluffy was just wanting to tell you that your shoe is untied, it should be perfectly kosher, culturally, among us, to first mace any dog who rushes up to you, and ask questions later.

    Although commenter Jayne’s remark that every runner should bring a man along gave me a good laugh, I do agree that no runner should go out alone at any time of day or night without some kind of protection from unexpected encounters of all kinds. Golden Gate Park is a wonderful, magical, enchanting place, but it’s not Disneyland. Nowhere is Disneyland.

  • paprikapink

    No banning or outlawing or rule-making is going to stop dogs from being a potential danger that runners have to be prepared for. Unless we somehow manage to rid the world of dogs altogether. Or maybe we’d do better to rid the world of runners…. Neither of these ridiculous extremes solves anything. Any dog, no matter how well-bred and well-trained and well-cared for, might respond in a dangerous and/or frightening way to a person running. The perfectly plausible scenarios are endless — dog protecting a new baby; dog sees another dog playfully chasing and gets the wrong idea; dog’s fence blows down and it finds itself unexpectedly at liberty in the wide world…. And none of those scenarios justify blaming anyone, dog or owner.

    Animal lovers are a lot like English Majors. They measure their love by considering their version The Correct One, and those whose love (or grammar, or spelling) is expressed differently just don’t love as well and are bad and not as good and neener-neener-I-am-holier-than-thou. I believe you can love animals and still have some compassion for humans. You can even love animals and consider a particular dog an asshole, pure and simple. I mean, really, they are individuals — they can’t all be noble help-meets; that’d be boring and kinda sick.

    Runners have got to carry protection. One commenter mentioned several products — pepper spray, some sonic thing, a stun gun…maybe you could use a phaser? — to deter the random, typical dog from pursuing and/or injuring you. And runners should be able to use these non-harmful but very discouraging deterrents with impunity. Even if you find out afterwards that Fluffy was just wanting to tell you that your shoe is untied, it should be perfectly kosher, culturally, among us, to first mace any dog who rushes up to you, and ask questions later.

    Although commenter Jayne’s remark that every runner should bring a man along gave me a good laugh, I do agree that no runner should go out alone at any time of day or night without some kind of protection from unexpected encounters of all kinds. Golden Gate Park is a wonderful, magical, enchanting place, but it’s not Disneyland. Nowhere is Disneyland.

  • Jayne Ami

    Yep, my husband would not allow me to go running alone at that hour. At least he would have come between the dog and I!
    Oh well.

  • Jayne Ami

    Yep, my husband would not allow me to go running alone at that hour. At least he would have come between the dog and I!
    Oh well.

  • Sarah Fidelibus

    I’m only just getting used to the idea of having to carry my cell phone with me while I run; now I have to bring a man along, too, so I can throw him in the path of dangerous dogs? Dang…this is getting complicated.

    Eve–I agree that people should not have a false sense of security with their phones (go into somewhat sketchy situations because they feel they’d be able to call for help if need be); I’d always rather avoid trouble than have to call for help when I’m deep in it. On the upside: My cell phone nearly always has good reception–I don’t have AT&T.

  • Sarah Fidelibus

    I’m only just getting used to the idea of having to carry my cell phone with me while I run; now I have to bring a man along, too, so I can throw him in the path of dangerous dogs? Dang…this is getting complicated.

    Eve–I agree that people should not have a false sense of security with their phones (go into somewhat sketchy situations because they feel they’d be able to call for help if need be); I’d always rather avoid trouble than have to call for help when I’m deep in it. On the upside: My cell phone nearly always has good reception–I don’t have AT&T.

  • birchgroove

    This is not a new problem. When I moved to SF in 1979 I lived near 19th & Judah. The first morning I set off to explore the park and walked into what was then a pretty unkempt area with a small pond. I heard loud growling (more unnerving than barking!) There were three biggish dogs across the pond, clearly telling me they would like to rip my throat out. I backed away as calmly as possible, they chased anyway, but I got out of the park and they didn’t follow me, thank god.

    I have no idea whether they were abandoned dogs, wild dogs or what but they were really frightening.

    I don’t usually bring my pet man along when walking or running, but I always bring my large black scary-looking Belgian shepherd, who keeps stray animals – and stray men -away quite effectively.

  • birchgroove

    This is not a new problem. When I moved to SF in 1979 I lived near 19th & Judah. The first morning I set off to explore the park and walked into what was then a pretty unkempt area with a small pond. I heard loud growling (more unnerving than barking!) There were three biggish dogs across the pond, clearly telling me they would like to rip my throat out. I backed away as calmly as possible, they chased anyway, but I got out of the park and they didn’t follow me, thank god.

    I have no idea whether they were abandoned dogs, wild dogs or what but they were really frightening.

    I don’t usually bring my pet man along when walking or running, but I always bring my large black scary-looking Belgian shepherd, who keeps stray animals – and stray men -away quite effectively.

  • Dog Lover

    Wow-just found this article.
    Maybe your husband should put you on a leash!!!!
    Dogs have rights also. Running pisses off dogs. Maybe you should be running on a track-that is what they are for. Parks are for dogs.
    Runners should mind their own business and stay away from these paths!
    Leave pit bulls out of this-Dogs have rights also.
    Sounds like you are vicious-you should be muzzled!
    Unbelievable!!!!

  • Dog Lover

    Wow-just found this article.
    Maybe your husband should put you on a leash!!!!
    Dogs have rights also. Running pisses off dogs. Maybe you should be running on a track-that is what they are for. Parks are for dogs.
    Runners should mind their own business and stay away from these paths!
    Leave pit bulls out of this-Dogs have rights also.
    Sounds like you are vicious-you should be muzzled!
    Unbelievable!!!!

  • Dog Lover

    Wow-just found this article.
    Maybe your husband should put you on a leash!!!!
    Dogs have rights also. Running pisses off dogs. Maybe you should be running on a track-that is what they are for. Parks are for dogs.
    Runners should mind their own business and stay away from these paths!
    Leave pit bulls out of this-Dogs have rights also.
    Sounds like you are vicious-you should be muzzled!
    Unbelievable!!!!

  • Dog Lover

    Wow-just found this article.
    Maybe your husband should put you on a leash!!!!
    Dogs have rights also. Running pisses off dogs. Maybe you should be running on a track-that is what they are for. Parks are for dogs.
    Runners should mind their own business and stay away from these paths!
    Leave pit bulls out of this-Dogs have rights also.
    Sounds like you are vicious-you should be muzzled!
    Unbelievable!!!!