dog-holding-gavel.jpgThe people at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area must have known they were unleashing a firestorm in a city with more dogs than children when they unveiled a new plan in January eliminating off-leash dog walking areas from Crissy Field, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston and entirely banning dogs from Muir Beach in Marin. This coming Monday, a group dedicated to fighting the proposed ban is staging a protest outside of GGNRA headquarters in Fort Mason Center.

While off-leash dog walking is technically prohibited in nearly all national parks, the GGNRA issued guidelines the late ’70s designating just under 15% of GGNRA land as off-leash areas. In 2001, there was an attempt to eliminate these areas as a means to protect an endangered birds species but that ban was later invalidated by a judge because the change in policy received insufficient public input prior to implementation.

According to the massive document detailing the plan the newly proposed ban is being done for environmentally conscious reasons similar to the ones behind the attempted ban imposed a decade ago.

Consistently exercising your dog is one of the most essential elements in keeping them from eating/peeing on every single thing you own. As any good dog owner will tell you, making sure your dog gets enough exercise is difficult when they’re on leash without getting a ton of exercise yourself. This is America and forcing Americans to exercise is a cardinal sin right up there with touching our junk or gently encouraging us to maybe not mainline quite so much lard directly into our veins.

Opponents of the ban, such as Supervisor Scott Wiener, worry that the closure of off-leash dog paradises such as Fort Funston will lead to at the city’s other dedicated off-leash dog parks like Alamo Square and Duboce Parks turning into overcrowded dogpiles.

The GGNRA’s holding to SF meetings (the one in Marin was reportedly a good time) for the public to comment on the plan: Saturday, March 5 from 11-4, at SF State’s Seven Hills Conference Center, and Monday, March 7, at Fort Mason’s Building D – Fleet Room from 4-8.

It’s during this last meeting that off-leash fans say that “armed with dog whistles (human frequency tuned), signs and pictures of pooches, Bay Area dog owners (will) howl loudly at park headquarters.” According to their facebook page, Supervisor John Avalos is also confirmed to speak during the rally.

If you’re against the ban and want to hit the people at the GGNRA with a rolled up newspaper for rub their faces in their own poop (please don’t do either of those things), Monday’s protest starts at 5:30pm in the parking lot at Fort Mason Center, Building D.

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  • sunnysunset

    Dear Aaron,

    In response to your sassy comment: “As any good dog owner will tell you, making sure your dog gets enough exercise is difficult when they’re on leash without getting a ton of exercise yourself”

    I challenge you to try and exercise along with my dog while she is on the leash… I am willing to bet that after the first 30 minutes you will be crying for it all to end and she will be dragging you behind her as she charges along at 30 mph in her attempt to relieve all of the pent up energy.

    In other words, some dogs are exceptionally energetic and athletically gifted when given access to the outdoors. Sometimes exercising along with your dog at your dog’s pace is unrealistic unless you’re an Olympic marathoner. So, in all fairness to my dog not having to endure my pathetic pace (usually around 8 – 9 min miles btw), I hope that these rules don’t come into affect and that I can continue to let her sprint her way around Ft. Funston leash-less for years to come.

  • Eve Batey

    sunnysunset, you and Aaron are in agreement here. As you note, he said:

    “As any good dog owner will tell you, making sure your dog gets enough exercise is difficult when they’re on leash without getting a ton of exercise yourself.”

    In other words, many dogs (not just yours) are more athletic than most people, so getting them enough exercise while on-leash is not practical for most.

    So I am not sure why you are challenging him to experience what sounds like such an unpleasant time! Typically, when I am suggesting activities that might make someone cry for it all to end, it is because they say things I do not agree with!

  • HooliganHusky

    Very true that they are in agreement, as am I. I own a husky who never tires no matter how much he sprints.

    With the new proposed alternative, the few off leash zones that could potentially remain would have higher standards for behavior then one would impose on children. Dogs would be crowded into a much smaller off leash zones which would create tension and behavior issues.

    Whenever people or animals are pushed into smaller areas thereby causing crowding, problems always arise. Dogs are also expected stay within 30ft which would take away any idea of a run unless the dogs run circles around you which could be rather entertaining but unlikely.

    GGNRA is setting up budget of around $900,000 to enforce(issuing tickets) the restrictions and to set up signs. If they feel that 25% of the dog owners are out of compliance then they will impose further restriction, which would eventually lead to banning dogs altogether(poison pill). If dogs play to rough(noisy), go past 30ft from owner, creep on to no dog zones, or do not strictly obey leash/off-leash rules then they would be out of compliance. Since they would be crowded and have little room to run it would be a self fulfilling prophecy that they will be out of compliance. Its all or nothing as letting GGNRA regulate dogs would inevitably lead to the banning of dogs.

  • pffft

    Personally I’d rather see people who live in dense, urban areas use some common sense and not get an “exceptionally energetic” dog in the first place. If a brisk 45 minute walk per day ON LEASH is not enough exercise then maybe that particular breed is best suited for a non-urban environment.

    Just my two cents.

  • pffft

    Is sprinting really required? Can’t you go for an on-leash jog? I’m not trying to glib. I just wonder how REQUIRED being off-leash is. I understand that dog-owners like the idea of their dog being off-leash. I like it too. (BTW – I have a dog, and she’s perfectly happy with a long walk every day. I understand some dogs need more).

    What about a brisk walk or jog on-leash for an hour a day? If that isn’t enough I wonder if that breed is really suited for urban life.

  • sunnysunset

    My bad if I mis-read Aaron’s comments but, being that the statement I quoted was followed by “This is America and forcing Americans to exercise is a cardinal sin” I sensed sarcasm and assumed he meant that people are only complaining about off-leash because the new rules will force them to exercise with their dog. I was merely pointing out that doing this isn’t always adequate or practical for both dog and owner when said dog has a much better pace :)

  • sunnysunset

    My bad if I mis-read Aaron’s comments but, being that the statement I quoted was followed by “This is America and forcing Americans to exercise is a cardinal sin” I sensed sarcasm and assumed he meant that people are only complaining about off-leash because the new rules will force them to exercise with their dog. I was merely pointing out that doing this isn’t always adequate or practical for both dog and owner when said dog has a much better pace :)

  • janscott

    Well, I’m a senior citizen and have been running/jogging on the beach with various dogs for over 30 years. We do 3-5 miles 4-6 times a week. Even when I was young, I couldn’t keep up with my hound. People just can’t go as fast as young dogs, and young people go faster than old dogs. Also dogs want to run fast, then stop to sniff. People want to run at a steady pace. So off leash is really necessary. Also try playing fetch while your dog is on a leash.

    Some national parks allow dogs to be off leash for hunting. Seems to me that fetch should be given the same status as hunting.