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Hello,

I was recently quoted in the SF chronicle about being bitten twice by dogs, once in the GGNRA.

However, what I really wanted the public to know, (which the writer did not include in the story) was about the vandalism that occurred sometime on Sunday sometime in the early hours.

I actually attended the public meeting about dog management in the GGNRA at SF State this past saturday. At that meeting, I signed in and wrote my address down. There were several people around me when I was writing. I regret doing this now, but as I signed in, I thanked the park ranger and said that I completely supported the preferred alternative.

Someone who is anti-leash must have heard and looked at my name and address, because the next day I found that my door was smeared with dog poop.

I was totally shocked and hurt by it. I was not planning to go to the second meeting but went to inform the rangers that there should be better security and privacy measures in the future.

I then also saw a reported and talked with him briefly about the incident. I suspect that others have probably experienced vandalism as well and I think it is important that the public know that there are individuals that are taking this too far.

I also want other to know that they have to be careful and should not share their personal information. I am hoping that you may be able to share my story and discourage this type of behavior from happening on either side of the argument.

Annabelle Williamson
San Francisco

Photo: From the GGNRA Draft Dog Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement page

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • sfbird

    At what point do we just call bullshit on this lady? Her opposition to dogs is based not on reasoned arguments, but on the dubious claim that she was bitten twice on the beach, and now the equally dubious claim that she’s being stalked by a gang of ruthless dog owners.

    I’m not sure why this is even being printed here. It’s a person with a demonstrated agenda making unverified accusations with no evidence whatsoever (did she call the police about the vandalism? Did she receive medical attention for her dogbites?) On its own, this is hardly the basis for anything journalistic.

    Hey, everyone! I was viciously beaten by a bunch of people opposed to off-leash areas! Can I have an article, too?

  • sfnativeguy

    sfbird makes an odd point. if one reads the comments to the SFGate and other articles, one will note that dozens of people report being bitten, chased, or otherwise attacked by off-leash dogs in the GGNRA. are all of those people lying? none of those people attached medical billing statements to their comments. i know i’ve witnessed aggressive behavior by off-leash dogs numerous times. this isn’t a giant conspiracy sfbird – the people of san francisco are tired of irresponsible dog owners and are finally doing something about it. maybe a few well-placed enclosures for off-leash dogs would go a long way to making dog owners happy.

    to the point regarding the vandalism, i am seriously hoping that it was some sort of mistake or mixup because i hope that people in a democracy can debate and disagree and keep things civil.

  • sfbird

    The SFGate comments section is the domain of wingnuts, dipshits and trolls. I’m surprised you can stand to wade through more than 2 or 3 of those moronic posts, much less believe a single word they’ve written.

  • Eve Batey

    Hi, sfbird! To respond to your point that:

    “I’m not sure why this is even being printed here. It’s a person with a demonstrated agenda making unverified accusations with no evidence whatsoever (did she call the police about the vandalism? Did she receive medical attention for her dogbites?) On its own, this is hardly the basis for anything journalistic.”

    I would say that, actually, “Letters to the Editor” is a time-honored, traditional feature for many publications. For example, here is the archive for the SF Chronicle’s Letters to the Editor feature. Even in this era of comments, I think it serves a good purpose, and I’m happy to continue this tradition on the Appeal.

    When you ask:

    “Hey, everyone! I was viciously beaten by a bunch of people opposed to off-leash areas! Can I have an article, too?”

    First, I would say, I am so dreadfully sorry that you were assaulted, and fervently hope that you are OK!

    Then, I would say that if you, like Ms. Williamson, would like to send in a personal account of an issue as relates to our coverage, that we will publish with your real (that is, verified by the Appeal) name and city of residence, we’ll happily consider publishing it. You can learn more about the history of the Letters to the Editor feature here.

    Looking forward to your letter already!

  • JasSF

    I’m sorry that Ms. Williamson was bit on one account by a dog at the GGNRA. I hope that the dog owner of the attacking dog was identified and was held responsible for her medical treatment and apologized for the dog’s misbehavior.

    But like sfbird said, I’m also curious as to why GGNRA did not make accountable the individuals involved, but instead chose to come up with a proposal that discredit all dogs and dog owners together, even the most responsible dog owners I know.

    The American legislative system is built upon the rule that the suspect is innocent until proven guilty. The fact that Ms. Williamson assumed automatically without proof that the vandalism was the action of an “anti-leash” person seems to be nothing more than a personal opinion. And how would she know it’s not human poop? (There is a homeless man once in a blue moon who takes a dump at the GGNRA. Are we dog owners supposed to pick that up? Not that I am not upset with the culprit who did the vandalism to Ms. Williamson’s door. In fact I’m inclined to think that it’s the act of a Pro-Preferred Alternative person who wants to further the irresponsible dog owner/nut stereotype.)

    In all fairness, I understand that those like Ms. Williamson who have had the misfortune to get bit by a dog would naturally be fearful of dogs. And though this fear is personal and I wish not to offer any advice on personal development, I ask you to please think of the less than 1% park land where dogs are allowed to roam free. Please think twice for us responsible dog owners who will be forced to bring our dogs to the crowded local parks where our dogs will never get to get the amount of exercise they need on a leash. Please do not punish the responsible people and their dogs for something that some particular irresponsible individuals have done. We are NOT all like that. And it’s plainly discriminative against ALL dog owners, including the responsible ones, should this proposal gets passed.

    Lastly, I hope Ms. Williamson and pro-Preferred Alternative commentator will report the individuals and their dogs who have hurt any human or other dogs/beings in any way at the GGNRA when they come across them again. I am absolutely pro-fining big time those who gave all of us responsible dog owners a bad rep.

  • TheMattCave

    Its pretty simple here folks, GGNRA is part of the Natl Park System, they have pretty strict rules about off leash dogs in every one of their parks,so why should we be any different? This is San Francisco, shouldn’t we want to try to protect one of our last wild spaces? Isn’t that what SF is all about? We’ve done so much harm to native wildlife/habitat, why is it so hard to accept these new regulations to prevent more. I can go off about all my negative experiences with dogs, but I be called a liar, so I’ll end it with this. Dogs are fucking domesticated animals, they don’t have emotions or feelings like humans do, in parts of the world dogs are eaten for food, and in the majority of the world they’re kept as working animals, not pets.

  • Melly

    Unfortunately there are people out there like sfbird who have a foggy understanding of the right to free speech and a clear disregard for human safety. I’m also not sure why this person feels the need to undermine the credibility of Ms. Williamson. Is it to cast doubt on the oppositions argument? If so, I am most certain that thousands of medical reports can be produced for doubting minds. sfbird’s claims are not only unfounded, but would be considered liable; the comments simply represent another form or vandalism against people who prefer not to engage with canines for fear of harm. sfbird, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • SFandrea

    I am very sorry for what happened to the author of the letter. No one would want to come home and find their house was defiled. As one of the main organizers of the rally, I would have to say that no one I’ve worked with so far on dog issues would EVER do something like what was done to Ms. Williamson. We are very respectful of other people. Not to mention that when things like this are done to people we disagree with, it makes us look bad and hurts our cause.

    Regarding the person above who says that the GGNRA is a national park and should be managed that way — actually, it’s not a national park. It’s a national recreation area. It was created as part of an effort to bring the parks to the people, and it has a recreation first mandate. The GGNRA wishes it were a national park, but that’s just not the reality. It’s in the middle of a huge urban area and was created so that people would have open spaces to use for recreation — and those people include people who have dogs. We can make space in these areas for the people, the dogs, the horses, the birds, the plants, and more. If you care about wildlife, you should be horrified by the way the GGNRA manages the 12-acre wilderness area in Ft. Funston — there are no signs and the fences are completely buried. But the GGNRA’s proposal to get rid of dogs is extreme and doesn’t make room for the people with dogs, who are the main recreational users in these areas right now.

  • sfbird

    MattCave, you’re incorrect on a key point. GGNRA is controlled by the NPS, but it is not an actual national park (like Yosemite or Joshua Tree). It is a recreation area (specifically an urban recreation area, which has a very different structure). Unlike national parks, dogs are specifically allowed in these areas (which the GGNRA is attempting to change, hence the controversy). The “protecting the habitat” argument tends to get used as an excuse by people who simply don’t like dogs, as evidenced by the fact that their argument quickly moves on to “dogs are always biting people and their owners are assholes and anyway, in other countries they eat dogs”(!?). If there are problem dogs or problem owners, they should be dealt with just as any other infraction of the law is dealt with. But you don’t have an inherent right to avoid seeing dogs just because you don’t like them, just as old people that are afraid of teenagers don’t have a right to ban them from the park.

    The areas are well managed, and the problems they have are not caused by dogs. The issue isn’t that we’re going to lose these recreation areas if we don’t ban dogs. People impact it far more than dogs do, but nobody is suggesting closing it off to people. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t dogs that have been vandalizing structures, littering, carving initials on trees, tagging everything in sight, smashing beer bottles and leaving used condoms lying around.

    Melly, your post is too full of hyperbole and crazy to be taken seriously. “Free speech” does not mean one has the right to say anything they like without being disagreed with and comments that you happen to disagree with are not “vandalism.” Words have actual meanings. You’re using them wrong.

  • JasSF

    Regarding MattCove’s comment: as mentioned above, GGNRA is not a national park. Statistics have shown that humans do far more destruction to natural habitats than dogs. I’m not sure if we can have a civil discussion with people who are commenting without even reading the proposal or getting their facts right. And his final comment “Dogs are fucking domesticated animals, they don’t have emotions or feelings like humans do, in parts of the world dogs are eaten for food, and in the majority of the world they’re kept as working animals, not pets.” merely shows that it is his personal sentiments against dogs that prompted his response. I wish dogs didn’t have emotions too, otherwise they wouldn’t bite people like Ms. Williamson out of fear, anger or disgust. A lot of us have rescue dogs as pets. These are unwanted dogs due to the absence of regulation in breeding–this is a problem that banning parklands to dogs will not solve. Is Mattcove suggesting that the city should ban dogs altogether because they are not working dogs? In that case we should ban homeless people too, and the unemployed. And if he prefers backsliding to a third-world country standard where they eat dogs, you are welcome to immigrate to those countries.

    The only valid argument for control of dogs is made by people who have gotten bit. And I can fully feel how traumatic it might be, as I have seen a fair share of fear-based aggressive dogs (why isn’t anyone taking into consideration that many dogs are afraid of humans too?), but please go to those individuals who are responsible and sue them. Stop generalizing that all dogs are bad and all dog owners are irresponsible. Be a little more rational and reasonable, and stop being so personal and selfish on this issue. If you really don’t want to see dogs, there’s still more than 99% of the parklands you can go to without seeing a four legged furry fella.

  • Gavril

    JasSF wrote:

    “The only valid argument for control of dogs is made by people who have gotten bit. And I can fully feel how traumatic it might be, as I have seen a fair share of fear-based aggressive dogs (why isn’t anyone taking into consideration that many dogs are afraid of humans too?),”

    Are you saying that we should take this into consideration in order to better control dogs, or for another purpose?

    “but please go to those individuals who are responsible and sue them.”

    Spend time and money prosecuting individuals, many of whom will continue to deny any wrongdoing or obligation? I’d rather see the law changed in a way that makes it harder to commit the offense in the first place (even if it slightly inconveniences some dog owners).

  • JasSF

    @Gavril: Are you saying that all dogs and dog owners must lose their recreation area because of the irresponsible actions of a handful of individuals?

    I assume if you are really bit and hurt by a dog, there will be proof? Then how can the dog owner sued “deny wrongdoing” if you have proof?

    Just because you don’t want to spend the time and money to deal with the responsible parties doesn’t have anything to do with other responsible dog owners and their dogs, and how they use their recreation area.

    GGNRA proposal mentions dogs off-leash has compromised visitors safety. Yet GGNRA statistics show that there are far more people incidents than dog incidents. So GGNRA is much more dangerous for people. Should we then ban people from the parks?

    Remember, if you don’t want to see dogs, you have 99% of the GGNRA lands. It’s not much to ask for leaving 1% to a HUGE population of responsible dog owners and their dogs.

    And no, banning off-leash areas do NOT SLIGHTLY inconveniences SOME dog owners. It inconveniences MOST DOG OWNERS. It’s a small group of dog owners who are irresponsible. And it poses major obstacles for higher-energy dogs that need to run in order to get enough exercise and in turn minimize behavioral problems. This 1% of land is the only place for some seniors and the disabled to adequately give their dogs their exercise needed.

    Think about the impact it will have on local parks when dog owners are forced to use city parks to exercise their dogs. It will only bring the conflict to your local neighborhood when you eventually see that handful of irresponsible dog owners and their dogs. And what then? Ban dogs from local parks? There will inevitably be problems when people (and dogs) share a public recreation area. But you can’t ban something just because there is that small percentage of conflicts resolvable by other means.

    Please look at the bigger picture and the facts before condemning all dog owners and their dogs. If you are a proponent of legislation, then you probably agree that PROOFS must exist to show that the number of irresponsible dog owners and their dogs is large enough to cause most of the incidents occurred in the parks, and statistics have shown that it’s just not the case.

  • Gavril

    “I assume if you are really bit and hurt by a dog, there will be proof? Then how can the dog owner sued “deny wrongdoing” if you have proof?”

    They can claim the dog was provoked, that the bite isn’t from their dog, that it isn’t from a dog at all, etc.

    “Just because you don’t want to spend the time and money to deal with the responsible parties”

    If an individual’s only recourse against a dog bite involves a significant strain on his time, energies and finances, I doubt you’re going to see a lot of dog-bite lawsuits from non-wealthy people.

    ” doesn’t have anything to do with other responsible dog owners and their dogs, and how they use their recreation area.

    GGNRA proposal mentions dogs off-leash has compromised visitors safety. Yet GGNRA statistics show that there are far more people incidents than dog incidents. So GGNRA is much more dangerous for people. Should we then ban people from the parks?”

    Banning people would punish the victims of people incidents just as much as the perpetrators. The same can’t be said about a ban on off-leash dogs.

    “And no, banning off-leash areas do NOT SLIGHTLY inconveniences SOME dog owners. It inconveniences MOST DOG OWNERS.”

    I didn’t say that all off-leash areas should be banned.

    “Think about the impact it will have on local parks when dog owners are forced to use city parks to exercise their dogs. It will only bring the conflict to your local neighborhood when you eventually see that handful of irresponsible dog owners and their dogs. And what then? Ban dogs from local parks? There will inevitably be problems when people (and dogs) share a public recreation area.”

    Again, a ban doesn’t eliminate the problems entirely, it just lessens them.

    “If you are a proponent of legislation, then you probably agree that PROOFS must exist to show that the number of irresponsible dog owners and their dogs is large enough to cause most of the incidents occurred in the parks, and statistics have shown that it’s just not the case.”

    What do you mean by “most of the incidents”? As long as dog incidents can be attributed to irresponsible owners, what further proof is needed?