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Unleashed dogs are a nuisance in Palo Alto parks

Original post made by Dog Owner on Sep 7, 2010

Every park I visit in Palo Alto with my dog has unleashed dogs running around in it. At Hoover Park most mornings between 8am and 9am, there may be five or more dogs running around off the leash while their owners socialize. Today I met an off leash dog at Rinconada Park at 9am. Yesterday there were two at Pardee Park at lunchtime.

It's an incredible nuisance for those of us who comply with the city's ordinance requiring dogs to be on a leash. My dog doesn't like being bounced on or crowded. I keep her on a leash so that I can control her; but what am I meant to do when two other dogs rush over, many feet away from their owners, and start to annoy her? We've not had a fight yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Am I and my dog to be prevented from walking in Palo Alto's parks because we stick with the rules and others don't? I wish the city police would take a bit more notice. There's a big fine, you know, for letting your dog run around off the leash - if anyone were to be bothering to enforce it.

Dog owners, make use of the city dog runs. That's why they are there.

Comments (94)

Posted by Anti-Dog Owners, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm

All we need is one person to be harmed and one huge lawsuit to empty the city's resources. Then maybe City Council will wake up.

Dogs shouldn't even be allowed in parks or school grounds. My children have stepped in dog crap 3-4 times. Jordan students have to run on the lawn for P.E. Soccer practice is everyday after school at Jordan. Dogs defecate at our elementary school on the kindergarten lawn in the mornings when I am dropping off my children. I have had to report dog droppings to the janitor numerous times all over campus. Dog owners claim they pick up the doo so it's okay. If it is "okay" for dogs to defecate on grass if the owner picks it up, then why don't the owners use their bare hands to pick it up?

Posted by Dog Owner, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

In response to Anti-Dog Owners' comment, I agree with what you say about dogs and their poop in the Palo Alto school yards. I do take my dog to the neighborhood parks but I never take her into school grounds, for just the reasons you state. My children are in school too, and I don't want them to be stepping on poop either. (And I do scoop, though not with my bare hands! Fortunately my dog has a preference for dirt as a place to deposit. I agree poop on grass is pretty objectionable. You really *can't* pick it up.)

Of course, if your dog is running around unleashed, you have no idea where it has pooped. Another reason to keep it on the leash (and then you can also comply with another city ordinance, to clean up).

Posted by Colleen, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I think all parks should have off leash doggie play hours like Menlo Park. It is working out great. Off leash doggie play hours gives all tax payers use of the parks just at different times for there needs.

Posted by call animal control, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:47 am

Next time you see dogs behaving badly, call animal control. Let them sort it out. People who confront the dog owners themselves have found themselves beaten up.

Posted by Park User without dog, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 8, 2010 at 6:53 am

The residents of Palo Alto voted in the 1950s to required all dogs to be leashed in City Parks. It would have to be a ballot initiative to get it removed, so live with it and obey unless you want to collect the necessary signatures for a ballot initiative.

Hoover Park has a designated dog run so why are dogs running lose in that park. I notice Mitchell Park now has new posted signs which say specifically that dogs must be on a leash in the open park area. In the dog run they can be off leash.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:41 am

I see on a daily basis dog owners enter the Jordan athletic field right after school starts and take their dogs off leash right in front of the sign informing the public that dogs are not allowed on the field during school hours and must be always leashed. Some dog owners walk their dogs on the sidewalks without a leash. These are often the mostly affluent residents who consider making a complete stop at a stop sign or obeying a red light beneath them.

Posted by You all are dogs., a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 10:17 am

Have you seen a dog-owner's house? Filthy!

Aside from the main subject,
Dog owners allowing pets to bark in the deep hours of the night is also grounds for city intervention. FOR FREE!!! I will not see tax money spent on people who carry a tongue with four legs as a pet around the city.

Posted by Anti-Dog Owners, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2010 at 10:28 am

I know dog owners who keep immaculate houses. Although, since they are not germophobes, there must be ecoli everywhere. Imagine walking around all day, barefoot, defecating wherever, not wiping your butt,then going home to sit naked around the house or on a bed with leftover poop on you. Although I do know of people who wipe their dog's butts. But no soap involved.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

I am reading some comments from the other extreme-people who despise dogs and would love nothing more than to outlaw dog ownership. Dogs are wonderful creatures. Frankly, I love, trust and respect them much more than I do humans. However, too many dog owners in Palo Alto are irresponsible and arrogant. Allowing dogs to run off-leash in public areas that are not designated as dog runs is irresponsible, so is not piking up their poop. As a dog owner who is familiar with the "dog park community" culture I can attest that owners who socialize while their dogs run free in public parks and schoolyards often don't notice it when their dogs poop since they are too far away and too busy schmoozing, and that's why there is so much dog poop in those places.

Posted by Millie, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Dog owners have filthy houses? Are you nuts? More likely, no one every asks you to their homes because you're so extreme and rude.

Regarding the dogs, Palo Alto was going to get back to us about having more off-leash areas.

Posted by Derek Crane, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm

"Off leash doggie play hours gives all tax payers use of the parks just at different times for there needs."

I didn't know dogs paid taxes, or is that only in Menlo Park? If you're referring to their owners' needs, does that mean I can take my .22 to my neighborhood park to satisfy my plinking needs?

No? Why do you think your doggie needs trump my plinking needs? I have a constitutional right to have my .22, but you have no constitutional right to have your dog.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm

FYI: the DENVER dog owners are LOSING many off-lease privileges BECAUSE they don't clean up after their animals, allow animals to RUN FREE with NO VOICE CONTROL! ( a requirement for Leash Free privileges )

The parks around Denver are shared by all, including horses, bicyclists pedestrians, hikers children and the like.

It is a known fact that DOG FECES are contributing to local groundwater problems, so DENVER and other local areas are sharply curtailing Leash Free parks....

For the WHINERS and their dogs, YOU brought this on yourself. Other citizens are tired of cleaning up after YOUR selfish behavior....

Posted by dog lover, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I agree that people who let their dogs roam freely to bother others public parks or refuse to pick up poop are acting irresponsibly, but I never see this behavior among the group of dog owners where I take my dog to exercise. Poop is ALWAYS picked up and if it is not, people receive gentle or even. Not so gentle reminders from each other to do so. The dogs run freely but are controlled in that they stay close to the owners and either retrieve balls or play with each other. Everybody goes in the evenings when no children or present or if children show up le ashes go on right away. There are really very few places in this city for dogs to play. I try to go to the dog parkks, but with young children that is not always possible. I am both distressed and slighly amused (don't know which) by some of the weird and hateful comments generalizing dogs and dog owners. Dirty house? Poop all over? Certainly not mine! Nor is my well groomed dog dirty. He is cleaner than many people I've met! Perhaps we should categorize cat owners as having dirty houses or people who do not have pets as having immaculate have no pets having some other weird idiosyncracy. Dogs are good at not only guarding the house, but make great companions. Children who grow up with dogs will probably not be afraid of dogs and other animals either.

Posted by dog lover, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Excuse my horrible editing of the above post. It is difficult to write and post a comment here from my cellphone because of the format. I pretty much just wanted to say not to judge all dog owners by the few who are irresponsible.

Posted by south PA mom, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I don't own a dog, but I enjoy them. I have no fear of them at all.

One day, when my daughter was about three we were playing in Mitchell Park. A large unleashed lab came bounding at full speed across the park toward her. I was pushing her sister in a swing watching the little one in the sandbox. My back was to the dog, so I didn't see the dog coming, but she did. She screamed...a TERRIFIED scream...and then I noticed the dog. I ran over and snatched her up, putting my body between her and the dog, just averting what surely would have been a collision--or worse. I couldn't know what the dog intended to do. A minute or so later, the errant owner sauntered up and excused his dog (no apology for scaring us to death) by saying, "She's really friendly. She just wanted to be friends." My heart was beating so wildly I couldn't even respond.

For months afterward my daughter screamed every time she encountered a dog. It took a long time and a lot of controlled exposures to leashed, nice dogs to get her to a place where she was unafraid again.

Dogs in the park should be leashed. Period. We have dog parks. If you have a dog, you should be in control of its behavior in a public place. Voice command is not adequate for most dogs in a park. Please obey the law.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

In fact CAT feces are very, very toxic--they carry Toxoplasmosis, this can be lethal for pregnant women and for people with weak immune systems---cancer--HIV-etc and people with transplants.
Cat feces also enter the drainage system and end up infecting and killing a great many otters in the ocean.

Dog feces are benign and the presence of dogs and their feces dramatically reduces the incidence of asthma in children.

Free roaming cats also kill many millions of birds and small wildlife every year.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Paul Losch from the CPA Parks and Recreation Commission here.

This "matter" has been something I have pushed in the Commission for a couple of years. A few things that may help further the discussion:

--As part of putting an underground reservoir at El Camino Park, there is an opportunity to put a very robust dog run area. Commissioners walked the park this summer with Community Services staff and the consensus was that El Camino can offer to Palo Alto North dog owners a great spot to safely let their dogs off leash.

--As I wrote in an op-ed in the Weekly last year, there are "yield management" opportunities where certain enclosed areas in city parks can be designated for letting dogs run off leash at specified times of day. This is along the lines of what is mentioned by one poster above regarding a Menlo Park program, and I am of the opinion that we can do the same in several parks around Palo Alto

--Part of the reason, aside from proximity to where one lives, that people take their dogs and let them off leash at schools is that the schools are fenced in. Fido will not stray too far or be impossible to corral when play time is over. The law in Palo Alto applies to school district property, but I find it ironic that most schools have signs on their gates about taking care of Bowser's fecal matter when he/she visits a school yard.

--I think we are making some progress on the Parks Commission in coming up with venues on certain times of day, where dogs can run unleashed. Our existing dog runs are inadequate. Many of us who have spent our professional careers in the private sector can get frustrated by the pace of how things happen in a municipal setting, but dealing with this dog off leash issue is getting attention and efforts to improve conditions. It is a slow process, but it is moving forward.

--And if you are a dog owner, it is YOUR responsibility to pick up after Rover's matter, no matter what!

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Comments such as those by the poster who claims that dog poop is so terribly toxic are plain stupid and ignorant. One belch from one truck exhaust pipe traveling on one of our streets is far more toxic than all the combined dog poop produced in a year in Palo Alto. One lead particulate falling down from one of the small airplanes buzzing over our neighborhoods is far deadlier than all the dog waste in our town. However,dog owners who take their dogs off leash in areas not designated as dog runs are not just inconsiderate and in violation of a city ordinance, they are actually encouraging the irrational anti-dog crowd, some of whom have expressed their weird opinions on this blog.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I am not a dog owner, but I did grow up with dogs. It seems to me that the dog runs in Palo Alto parks are pretty awful. Until such time as the dog runs are improved and perhaps certain parks are designated with certain times for dogs to be unleashed, then we are not going to stop dog owners from unleashing their dogs.

Dog owners are treated as second class citizens in our parks and although some are irresponsible, most appear to be considerate to others. Dog owners do need to be given some consideration too.

Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I've noticed lately that people are bringing their un-leashed dogs to non-dog parks and having morning and evening people social circles while their dogs run loose. These folks, for the most part, ignore their dogs that are running up to the other people who are using the parks. These dogs seem to frighten the other dogs that people are walking on leashes and the un-leashed dogs are almost completely indifferent to the owner's commands.

What's especially ironic is a couple of the people actually drive cars to the local parks (Greenmeadow and Cubberley) when they could have just as easily could have just driven across Charleston to the huge DOG PARK at Mitchell Park! What kind of logic is that?

Posted by benign?, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Hmmm. I grew up with cats and dogs. I was told I developed allergies from over-exposure.

In any case, I've scooped kitty litter and bagged dog piles. Yes, toxoplasmosis is real, so I don't appreciate it when neighborhood cats use my freshly mulched garden as their new litter box. Unfortunately for me, cats are difficult to control, so I've become quite vigilant, esp. with my fruit/vegetable garden.

However, when it comes to dogs, whether leashed or not, I've seen a huge increase in the amount of poop all over town. Not just in the school playing fields, but right smack in the middle of the sidewalk. Granted I've also seen dog owners gingerly take a stick to push piles into the curb, but a pile of poop is gross anywhere. While I don't care to discuss the details of what it may or may not contain, anyone who has stepped in it would never call it benign. Just look at the way everyone reacts when they walk into a room and recognize the telltale smell... look at the way poop is cleaned from the fouled surfaces.

So, dog owners of Palo Alto, I am politely asking you to pick up after your dog (no matter how big or small!) because you are just plain lazy, arrogant and rude when you don't.

Posted by homegirl, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

save the otters!

Posted by OffLeash, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Life is dangerous. I've grown up with dogs and cats running wild and have never had a single dog / cat related injury. However, I've had so many injuries as a kid from other children pushing me, or throwing things at my head or just running into me, not to mention all the times I just slipped on some wet asphalt, or ran into trees, or caught a cold from some kid sneezing on me. Oh and how about all those times I just had my feelings hurt?

Why don't you just take your kids and put them in a bubble? That way they won't have to be afraid of dogs running up to them (and god forbid licking them or wagging their tails or making your kids smile), cat feces (apparently the most dangerous substance on earth), or your neighbors filthy houses (cause after all dog owners have filthy houses and cat owners have even filthier houses and people like me who love both are just covered in poo from all sides and some of it might get into the Palo Alto water supply (like I'm sure it did in Denver) and kill us all). Once your kids are safely in their bubbles you can go around and remove all of the trees and plant life from the area to make sure that once your extremely allergic kids come out of their bubbles when they are 18 and need to go to college they don't have a terrible allergic reaction to the pollen.
Or maybe you can just accept that different people have different needs in the community and that some people might not appreciate your screaming children, or your big SUVs, or your needs either, but accept them as part of the diversity we call life. Trust me your kids will grow up to be much happier more well adjusted people that way.
I wish us all a happy new year full of dogs and cats and kids and trees and life, and may we all be off leash!

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I feel for the woman whose child was rushed by the dog. I had a similar experience. I am disabled and walk with a cane -- an unleashed friendly dog knocked me over.

It is simply unsafe to have an unleashed dog freely running in public. I've heard all the excuses owners give --BUT a dog is a dog and attributing your human thought processes to them is ridiculous.

I have a little dog (BTW, she's cutest dog in the world), but she goes only to FENCED dog parks to play -- and our walk from the parking lot into the dog park is LEASHED.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Most dogs and their owners are out of control and rude and arrogant about it.

I saw a group at the Baylands one day and a women had her large sized dog running around with this group running up to joggers and hikers. I asked her to put her dog on a leash, since she had one and there is a leash law.

I ran on and then on the way back there she was again with the dog off the leash running up to people again.

I have never seen anyone get stopped or ticketed for lack of a leash, and this includes:

1) No leash.
2) Off the leash.
3) Really long leashes, like 20 feet that cannot control the dog.
4) Very small people, or women with large or multiple dogs that they cannot control.

Not to mention how much dog poop there is, or people who put the poop in one of the blue bags out there, and then leave it for someone else to pick up.

What kind of jerk people do we have in Palo Alto that do things like that. I am for balancing the budget on the backs of the jerks and fining the poop out of them for these kind of no-brainer nuisance actions.

There is no way the law can or will take care of this, so I think Palo Alto ought to make it illegal for people to walk their dogs altogether except in designated spots with a leash.

People ought to be able to run, walk or hike without having to look around to see if there is a dog that could be a problem for them, their kids, or their animals on leash.

Is there any statistics on reported animal attacks in Palo Alto? How big a problem is it. I also know that even if people do not get attacked, it detracts from the experience of walking to have to be on guard or stop and let a dog that could be dangerous go by.


Posted by Koa, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I think if more people minded their own business and played it cool the world would be a much more pleasant place.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Until you've limped in my shoes, and been injured by a dog running free, your comment that people should mind their own business and play it cool is IDIOTIC.

If anyone's unleashed dog injures me ever again I will sue. To the person with the dog running leashless who knocked me over -- who told me that handicapped people should stay off the premises -- you're first.

The leash law is a LAW, just like a traffic light law. What if the car disregarding the red light because he/she "played it cool" hits you or your kid?

Not way cool dude.

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

"too many dog owners in Palo Alto are irresponsible and arrogant"

"Most dogs and their owners are out of control and rude and arrogant about it."

Maybe you should rephrase the quoted comments to say: Too many people in Palo Alto are out of control, irresponsbile, and arrogant. Some of them own dogs.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Koa - you so often make cogent, witty observations, thank you!

The way Menlo has been handling offleash dog issues w/play times has been pretty successful. Perhaps PA can follow their lead, but there'd have to be an organized group to get it going.

Dogs thrive w/offleash activities. Kids can deal just fine w/dog crap.

People have a right in the US to pursue happiness. For some people, that means having a dog. Dog owner rights don't trump other rights, but dog owners, as taxpayers who want increased outdoor activities just have to organize to change things.

Is posting here about the offleash dog problem going to resolve anything? Sheesh, call animal control & ask them to observe that particular area& see if they have any solutions.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Derek --- Kids don't pay taxes either, but I pay a bunch each year to support their education, although I do not have children who benefit(supporting our community is a good thing, not a complaint).

Dog owners, just like parents, pay taxes, and I'd be happy to see some of mine go to better play areas for dogs (my dog is way too old to make use of it, so this is not a self-serving request). The Mitchell dog run is pathetic and is a relatively small space for the number of dogs in the community and the size of some of the dogs. When I did take my dog there a number of years ago, it was so hot in the summer and muddy in the winter that it was miserable to be there. I like the Menlo Park model and think it could work in Palo Alto. Dogs need and love open spaces to run in.

It all comes down to people being considerate of others and recognizing not everyone will share the same priorities. Flexibility, consideration, and tolerance can accomplish much.

Posted by Prof. Sampson Alspinkler, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Here's the thing, we're all animals - if you can't handle the fact that you "met an off leash dog at Rinconada Park at 9am" then you are weak and should reconsider your place on the food chain - you no longer belong at the top.

Stop acting like you're too good to deal with an inconvenience or two. You probably have soft hands and dandruff, who would take you seriously?

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Are you nuts? It was more than an inconvenience when the big dog knocked me over -- guess he didn't see my cane. But the owner did.

Someday, if you live long enough, you are likely to be disabled. Be careful.

Best wishes,
Another Prof

Posted by Prof. Sampson Alspinkler, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Neighbor, who was talking to you? My comment was aimed at the original post, did you see where I quoted them? Did I quote you? I didn't say anything about the disabled. I'm assuming that you're an adult and you also claim to be a professor - what you should be is embarrassed.

Posted by screed-less, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Sure, I could post a screed stating that I am responsible, dog-owning, childless, dutiful taxpayer in Palo Alto, don't drive an SUV, my dog's carbon footprint vs. you and your kid's carbon footprint blah blah blah, how *every* time I walk my dog I have to avoid my dog going after human litter, but no, I won't post that. I will post: WHY CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG? C'mon, folks. Have a little perspective.

Posted by funny, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Paul L is correct... the city needs to do more to support the concept of additional locations for dogs to run off-leash. We always leash our dog during walks. I do let our dog off leash before getting to the front door as a training purpose -- so it knows the words "go home" in case it ever accidentally gets out of the house.

As for the parks, my dog needs a lot of running each day to stay in shape and stay mellow. The dog park at Mitchell Park is not convenient nor big enough. Using fenced in areas (such as parks, school related or not) in the early mornings and late evenings makes a lot of sense.

And yes, my house is clean.

And yes, I always pick up after my dog and often other dogs (I assume the poop is from dogs, it might be a wild, moody PA Parent on a bad day) if I see it on a field.

Posted by Doggy Mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

The thing that concerns me about off leash dogs is that my dog, who is always on leash, doesn't like it when off leash dogs rush up on her and get in her face. She is a very sweet dog, but will get aggressive under theses circumstances. My concern is that my dog will seriously injure or kill another dog if provoked. I'm following the law, but if my dog kills another dog somehow I'll be found at fault.

Posted by Prof. Sampson Alspinkler, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Re: Doggy Mom
"if my dog kills another dog somehow I'll be found at fault."

You mention previously in your post that your dog "will get aggressive under theses circumstances". Since YOU FULLY WELL KNOW AND ADMIT how your dog reacts, and you know that it is possible that an unleashed dog may come in contact with your dog (heaven forbid a child get anywhere near your animal) - OF COURSE you should be held responsible for anything your dog does. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Anti-Dog Owners, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Re Prof's posting: ". . .if you can't handle the fact that you "met an off leash dog at Rinconada Park at 9am" then you are weak and should reconsider your place on the food chain. . ."

Our neighbor has a wild dog (no surprise). The large dog jumped on an 80-year old neighbor who was outside walking and she fell, broke her hip, and has had to have a caretaker ever since. The dog owner downplays it all. The same off-leash dog was at Jordan while I was pitching balls to my child for batting practice and the dog kept stealing our balls while the owner socialized. When I yelled to the owner, she got offended and hasn't talked to me since (no loss).

The worst is when a dog physically contacts me and the owner downplays it as "she's just being friendly", but if it were a human it would be assault. Is that their defense for being embarassed that their dog is not trained properly?

Meanwhile, another neighbor has two dogs and if they ever start barking, which is about once per month, the owner stops them within a minute.

Posted by Hmmm to Doggy Mom, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Actually, if your dog injures or kills an offleash dog that runs up to your dog in a public area, I don't think you're liable. You may want to get an updated copy of Dog Law, or look the laws up online or just call Animal Control so that you understand your rights & responsibilities.

Since anyone can sue anyone for just about anything, if your dog did hurt another while leashed & the other dog was unleashed, you could get sued & it'd prob. hit your homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance or your wallet more directly, depending on your situation.

I'm sure you know that there's a lot you can do to avoid an attack by how you control your dog, carrying a small but loud boat horn or pepper spray (which can carry in the wind & effect you or others, so no always the best option).

There are also a lot of training techniques to desensitize your dog as well as get your dog to focus more on you. Luckily, we have great training resources in this area.

If your dog is also strong & willful, you have to keep working on being the stronger pack leader. Your dog's desire to please you, whatever its size, strength, age, breed, gender, etc., is one of the best automatic training tools you have. Exploit the heck out of it!

It merely sounds like your dog has some very common behaviors, but I know that's scary - she's leash reactive if not particularly dog aggressive. She's not human aggressive, so no worries there? Leash reactiveness is manageable. If she's also dog aggressive, being leash reactive can be an additional burden. But again - totally manageable & very common.

I've handled thousands of dogs of all sizes, breeds & temperaments & I have a dog aggressive dog. It's not the end of the world, but it's an additional responsibility. Too bad others' don't take their responsibility seriously w/allowing their dog to run up to yours.

Posted by Hmmm - to Anit dog Owners, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm

What do you mean about dogs coming into contact w/you being like a person assaulting another if it was human-human contact? Are these dogs aggressive & trying to hurt you, or enthusiastically greeting you & being annoying?

When people are injured by a dog knocking them over, I can't imagine acting like it's no big deal - that's unconscionable. Losers!

Posted by Millie, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:37 pm

How can you call yourself "Anti-Dog Owners"???? That's like calling yourself "Anti-Parents" or something equally brain dead.

Posted by LN, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I agree completely with "Doggy Mom." Off leash dogs are always a concern - if not a threat - to a leashed dog. Last week my daughter was walking her lab when she saw in unleashed dog in a yard. She crossed the street to avoid it, but unfortunately, it charged her and her dog, causing my daughter to fall on her back in the street. The owner never moved, and the dog finally retreated. The owner's response? "Bad dog" and "Sorry about that."

This summer I was walking my old and frail dog and in one evening 3 unleashed dogs separately ran at us. Only one owner had the good sense to run after her dog and pull him home. The other two dogs were allowed to chase us, and each time the owners stood by, just yelling "No" and "Come back." One dog retreated on its own; the owner then said it was "friendly." The other owner only retrieved her (small but aggressive) dog when I kept shouting "Get your dog!" Then she acted annoyed with me. Friendly or small, it stressed us. And had their been physical contact, I have no doubt, that in spite of age and ill health, my dog could have held her own if attacked.

So often people say they have voice control over their dogs, but time and again I've seen owners yelling uselessly when their dogs take off. I don't care if a dog is friendly or not, it is not fair, safe or smart for an off-leash dog to be allowed to run at a leashed dog. Dogs are by nature unpredictable and there is no guarantee how either will act.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Reading comments that people are weak and not at the top of the food chain, or that human are the problem, I never had any idea how many morons there are in Palo Alto. Or maybe there are just one of two morons that inhabit the message boards trying to bug other people and make the most unintelligent remarks.

It's really sad. People with message like those ought to have the sense to just keep quiet and try to learn and understand.

A dog is an unknown, and dogs can and have attacked or hurt people. Even if people are not attacked or hurt, if the dog causes them to have to change their direction or worry that it might be a threat because the owner is not civil enough to control their dog, that is when the government has to step in, because some fools are not considerate and intelligent enough to be responsible.

How can the world move forward when it is overcrowded and dragged down by some of the neanderthal commentors here?

Posted by papd-critic, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 6:26 am

Jay T of the weekly's best friend and DA insider....

Dog owners request more off-leash space
Parks and Recreation Commission struggles with complex issue

Uploaded: Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 12:52 PM

"And when the Weekly captured a photo of former Mayor Vic Ojakian and Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Jay Boyarsky with their off-leash (therefore law-violating) dogs at Addison Elementary School in March, the topic took off. "

Posted by Hmmm to LN, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2010 at 11:13 am

Very few people have impeccable control over their dogs via voice command only. Sometimes offleash dogs are well behaved because they are focused on something like Frisbee or fetch & ignore other dogs, which is great. But really, people are naive, in general, when it comes to things like voice control, what a well trained dog does, etc.

I've had too many weirdos in Palo Alto confront me about my leashed dogs. One woman FOLLOWED me to tell me how scared she was of dogs. I was walking mine & she didn't see him because she was too busy gabbing on her cell phone. She gasped when we walked by her, then followed me to tell me how scared she was. Yeah, right. I told her if she paid me $150 an hour to listen to her, I would, otherwise, leave me alone. Dogs are catalysts for lots of attention, good & bad, so people have to be aware of that. The thing lax dog owners like to forget is that their offleash dog can easily get injured or killed or they owner can get sued because of the dog's behavior offleash.

I'll stick to my super secret offleash areas where I can see people coming from quite a distance & leash my dogs in plenty of time.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 9, 2010 at 11:35 am

I am a dog owner and have always loved dogs, but there's no excuse for owners who take their dogs off leash outside of designated dog runs, even when they think that no one is around. The dog runs in Palo Alto are pretty disgraceful, so I don't blame any dog owner for not using them, I never do. Moreover, people will only take their dogs to parks or school fields in their general neighborhoods, so even if they improve the Mitchell Park, Hoover and Greer dog runs, owners who live in Crescent Park, Old Palo Alto or Downtown, to cite a few examples, will not use them anyway. With land value in Palo Alto what it is, the only solution in my opinion is to have designated times in which city parks become dog runs, twice a day, in the early morning and late evening, perhaps 2 hours per period. Dogs need to run and socialize, people need to be able to use the parks without fear of dog attacks, everybody wins this way.

Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm

We are all urban dwellers, and as such cannot possibly get all the exercise we need from the inefficiencies of our daily life. Very few of us tend animals, draw and carry water, walk to town, cultivate crops, etc.

So what do we do? WEbuy walking shoes for the scheduled non-utilitarian walk. We buy expernsive bikes, helmets, and super-tight clothes to ride on non-utilitarian rides. We buy memberships at exercise clubs. We buy videos of people doing exercises and we imitate them.

Why has the entrepreneurial world not hit on this strategy for exercising animals? Aside from the professional dog-walker, where are the private, for-pay dog exercise yards? These clubs could include services for the owners: everything from lattes, to classes in how to maintain your dog's training, how to improve your dog's home behavior, how to groom your dog.

When you consider the services you get from your exercise club, why do you settle for ignoring your dog at a public park as adequate care?

Posted by EcoMama, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Who wouldn't love living in Palo Alto, where we're above the rules, and our dogs crap chocolate ice cream, and are germ-free, and are gentle and above reproach?

Seriously, this comment thread is so very amusing. I have a dog. She has a leash. We obey the law, and I don't feel deprived. If I want her to be off-leash, there are a few local spots for that, and there are even more dog beaches out by the ocean. Plus, there's my yard, where she can run free all she wants.

It's not a problem that the dogs do their business wherever they please; it's a problem that adults in Palo Alto are so far above the law. I tell people with dogs to get out of the fenced, clearly-posted "no dogs" playground area at our local park all of the time -- and they may not like me for it, but I don't like my kids playing in dog crap, either. And no one yet has been rude about it -- they always say "I didn't see the sign." Yeah, right...

Yes, we could use more dog parks; but no, dogs should never be allowed at schools, and no, the leash laws aren't too restrictive. And if you're a dog owner who thinks they are, the answer isn't breaking the rules: try to have them changed. Just not at schools, please -- your dog doesn't need my kids' PE field as its potty!

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

The public never knows if your dog is well-behaved or not, and neither does any dog owner. The little kid who was killed by the pit bull recently and many others attest to this.

The least people can do it is to prove .... ie. PROVE, they have their dogs under control, and that means an adequate short enough leash, one a reasonable number of dogs ... ie. one.

When someone wants to selfishly impose their points of view on everyone else they talk tough and make of fun people, calling them weak, or scared of dogs.

This is the kind of rhetoric that is rampant in any discussion anywhere these days, and it is counterproductive.

Dogs don't belong in the suburbs, or at least over a certain size and certain breeds. People should have to insure their dogs, that might fix the problem. And if the dog is not on the leash or for some other reason, not controllable, they should be personally liable.

This is a place for the ownership society ... dog owners should own their liability and learn to respect other people's rights.

It would be nice if they would also learn to shut up and not say obnoxious ridiculous things as well. I used to have a dogs and like dogs, but as usual it is a minority of dogs and dog owners that cause all the problems that everyone else then has to figure out how to protect against in a way that is fair and also protects our liberties.

The attack on liberty seems to always come from those who want to ignore or abuse it.

Posted by P.A. Native, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm

This thread is pure comedy. Makes me glad I live in Mtn. View where I can let my dog run off leash (with about 10 other dogs) daily in the park just a block from my house. Apparently Mtn. View residents aren't as aware of the extreme dangers caused by a random turd or two.

Posted by Horstley Bandsatlerd, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Before all the real crazies come out of the woodwork...perhaps just a call to the Palo Alto Police to request some ticketing to the off-leash dog owners is the answer. Just like getting a ticket for not obeying a traffic law, smoking law, etc. --- where safety and public health trumps all the "But I like to do that" whining.

Ticketing the "I'm very special-I'm above the law folks" might help make up for the PA budget deficit! It would also be a consciousness raiser for the folks who don't have one.

Posted by Koa, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Teacher! Teacher! You forgot to assign us homework! (whole rest of the class moans while you ruin it for everybody else)

Posted by Mr. Hands, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2010 at 2:00 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by BaseballUmpire, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Everybody has an answer to their side of the story. Some of us/you really do feel that you are entitled, others just don't care.
Go down town on a sunday morning in some quaint towns where it has become fashionable to bring all four of the kids (all under the age of 10) with one or more cadillac strollers and every friggin animal in their household.
No one cares what thy neighbor thinks - be damned.
Well its the same with off the leash dogs. While out after dark walking I have seen/heard/watched cars pull to the curb, passenger door opens and "Fido" dashes out - while the driver sits in car...huh...who picks up the stuff?
Answer: Others do, we do, most likely no one does. Around parks and schools those that DO pick it up...where do we put it?
We put it in trash receptacles LOCKED to some district school tree.
Ewww...great atmosphere for the next day students.
At fields that serve as youth baseball fields - its OFF the charts. As my partner and I walk to home plate from our cars...the amount of feces on the grass areas is pathetic.
NO ONE CARES any more. There are now the same amount of dogs in each household as there are cars in the drive way or out front.
Too many....and the owners really don't really care, they ONLY care that THEIR side of the story be told. Common sense...nah!
The same Life-Losers are the same ones letting their dog pee "anywhere they want" and do the higher number - 2 - where ever their owners deem necessary. And which dog owners really think that WE want their dogs to just randomly bounce up to us and start frolicking with us and licking us?
Answer: the dog owners who like "that" to happen to them are the ones that let their dogs shove their noses into any area of yours.

Mis-behaving dogs/owners is an epidemic. Dogs act like the people who own them....

Okay, here starts another round of bashing my thoughts and opinions.

Posted by Presquire Xanderwald III, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2010 at 3:22 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

"Dogs don't belong in the suburbs, or at least over a certain size and certain breeds. People should have to insure their dogs, that might fix the problem. And if the dog is not on the leash or for some other reason, not controllable, they should be personally liable."

Dog owners ARE liable for what their dogs do, whether the dog's onleash or off. Moreover, a dog handler who isn't the dog's owner can also be liable for the dog's behavior. Not just responsible, but *liable*. However, an offleash dog causing problems is likely to have an owner found MORE liable if it gets into it w/an onleash dog.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by TJ, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Below is the City of Palo Alto leash law.

Any dog or puppy must be controlled on a leash by an able-bodied person, at all times, even when under supervision, whenever the dog is on public property. This includes all parks, sidewalks, streets, school grounds and the Baylands marsh areas or while on an unenclosed lot. The leash law is strictly enforced, but certain dog exercise areas have been created as playgrounds for exercising your dog off leash.

Posted by wish, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

Wish some of my tax dollars went to a dog park that was better than Mitchell Park.

Posted by disgusted, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 8:21 am

hear, hear, Anti-Dog Owners! I have friends who are offended anytime they cannot have their dog coming into my house. Yes. I do not want fresh-from-poop bottoms on my rugs, poop-stepping-on-shoeless animal (or person), unbathed for more than a day and smelly .I have a hard time understanding how is it that if a child defecates on the sidewalk it's gross and unhygienic, somebody urinating on the pavement is disgusting, but we have to endure all these appalling sites with great happiness.form dogs andd their owners. I was brought up with 3 dear dogs, but we lived in an estate and they weren't allowed in the house. They had their own quarters, and their run for their private needs.
I say I am anti-dog in citie, but I love them in the countryside. But if you must, then have a clean animal. And don't forget bathing the animal in your kitchen sink (but I disinfect it!NOT!)and then wash you lettuce in it. Thanks for the invitation for lunch, but no thanks.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 8:43 am

"disgusted", that was pretty funny ;-). I can see why you think that, but you are getting the mindset of the crazies who antibacterialize everything and are germ-phobic I think. It's not anyone's right to force their dog on anyone else, but I don't think dogs are a major ... or even a minor source of disease. Human beings have lived with dogs for so long that they are not a vector of diseases, though they do indeed shed a lot of hair and jump up people, or bark, eat unauthorized food, etc. There's germs everywhere and humans are more of a source of germs than anything else these days.

I think the point is that outside of someone;s home they have no right to do anything with their dog in the city that might affect someone else.

Posted by David, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

As I was driving through my kid's school parking lot, two unleashed dogs ran out from behind some parked cars into my path. I was able to stop in plenty of time, but the owner, also emerging, gave me a dirty look! If I was speeding, I would understand, but the owner appeared to be unaware of their contribution to the scene.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

I see more poop from Canada geese in our parks and school fields than I see dog poop. I was recently at an event at JLS field and the kids and the geese were side by side during school time!

My son actually got pooped by a bird flying overhead once at school walking around between classes.

I walked on gum in a school parking lot and got stuck to the pedal in my car. Should gum be banned in our schools and parks?

Of course we shouldn't take dogs onto school and sports fields, and kiddie play areas. But there are other gross things out there.

Posted by TJ, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I think it's a pity that the large undeveloped area of Greer Park close to HWY 101 is not being made into a nice big dog run for all you dog lovers.

Unfortunately, the Midtown Association took a survey of nearby Midtown residents who objected to turning the undeveloped area of Greer Park into a nice big dog run. Where was the dog lobby when this decision was being made? That area of Greer Park is going to be a picnic area, but who wants to picnic next to HWY 101.

Posted by disgusted, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Anon, it's not a matter of being germ-phobic.It's a matter of double standard. Try to have a child with you defecating on the sidewalk and see the commotion that will follow. However, we are forced to endure and smell dogs defecating in plain view. I'd say that if you can't have your own arrangements and facilities for your dog in your own house, then don't own a dog. Pretty simple. Put diapers on them. Take the dirty dippers home and dispose of them. That's what cities require owners of horse carriage business services and they should require the same for dogs. As I said I , myself , require that they don't sit on my sofas with their dirty bottoms, feet and fur, the same I do for children (even mine). How people who claim to be cleaan endure this state of affairs it's beyond me. You want to own a dog? let it poop on YOUR kitchen floor.

Posted by disgusted, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I am sorry, I just realized that this is a thread about unleashed dogs, not on other dog matters. I hadn't read the topic, only a couple of posts and so I went off topic.

But yes, unleashed dogs are a problem, even in Foothills park where it's clearly stated that unleashed dogs are not allowed.

Posted by grossed out, a resident of Southgate
on Sep 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

How about the dog owners that pick up the poop and dispose it in other people's trash cans? We've got an unknown neighbor who consistently does this, and it stinks - literally. They drop their little bag in the bottom of our empty trash can on trash day, and there it sits and ripens until the following week. The smell is unbearable. This dog must have an unusually stinky diet, because the smell isn't your usual doggy-doo smell.

Is there a law about using other people's trash cans? Just because we put them curbside doesn't imply that they're for public use.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 2:35 pm

>> but who wants to picnic next to HWY 101.

TJ, that is a great point. I remember going to Greer park and it was so loud, cold and windy. However, there are so many people in that area, so many houses and apartments that I bet it does get used a lot.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

"disgusted", don't let what I say let you think I am pro dog poop in any way and I do not have a dog. I go out to the baylands a lot and when I see dog poop all over it really makes me mad. Akso makes me mad when people leave their little poop bags by the side of the trails. Dogs seem to sometimes be used for some weak or unintelligent people to express their vicarious hostility or aggression or their own lack of character.

LOL ... "grossed out" ... I see this too. When I put my garbage cans out to get picked up some jerk and their dog thinks I want to host their dog poop for until the next week's pick up.

What are people such jerks? I don't know what is wrong with people who think they can set the low behavioral standard for public actions. If I ever catch them I am not sure I will be able to refrain from pulling it out and throwing it at them.

Posted by Anti-Dog Owners, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Re Grossed Out's hilarious posting. I second that. Dog owners do that in our neighborhood too (leave poop bags in others' trash cans when the can is on the curb for trash day). I suggest posting a note to your can so the person knows he/she is being watched. Whether they care or not is another issue. You shouldn't have to pay for a security camera to catch the idiot, like we had to pay for hedging to keep the dogs off our lawn.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Haha, never had dog poop left in our curbside bins. We have had unknown starbucks type coffee/drink containers - sometimes still containing coffee left in ours. Also, when we had a portapotty during construction, we often had people using them (mailmen and ups men are understandable - but kids on bikes!)

Best thing is to put your bins back beside your house as soon as possible.

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on Sep 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm

When I see an off leash dog in the park or school ground do I call Animal Control or the Police? If Animal Control, what's the number?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Mike, call Animal Control. However, check out their hours online. They're part of the police dept. I'm guessing that since you have internet service you can quite likely look their number up ;-)

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm

In fact the presence of dogs is a very effective crime deterrent--The vast majority of criminals will never enter property if the hear a dog bark.
Early and late in the day the presence of dogs in parks-- off leash-- deters criminals from attacking walkers, joggers etc.
The best solution is that of Menlo Park-- off leash dogs early and late.
Owners should clean up after their dogs--- the smell of dog urine and dropping does deter squirrels,cats, raccoons and pumas -- all of which pose a much greater health risk from rabies etc or in the case of pumas--attack--

Posted by grossed out, a resident of Southgate
on Sep 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm

To Sharon--

So what you're saying is that these dog owners who leave poo in the curbside containers are doing us a favor -- we won't have to worry about raccoons rumaging our trash.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm

In fact rabid squirrels and raccoons carry both rabies and the plague-- potentially lethal to children and those with weak immune systems,
cat feces spread toxoplasmosis Web Link to pregnant women, cancer, HIV and transplant patients.
Dog owners should pick up after their dogs but not for health reasons --dog feces are not a health hazard and the evidence is that dogs reduce asthma and other autoimmune diseases in children--- some cultures in the Muslim world have a taboo on dogs-- but it is not based upon science.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I had squirrels going in and pulling up my sod when I was laying a new lawn out. I tried everything to deter them, but nothing does. Not dogs, dog poop, dog pee, that is the most silly thing I've ever heard.

Raccoons are frustratingly smart and clever. Even when I would catch them and hit them with the hose, they just walk until just out of range of the hose and just sit there and watch me. They always came back the next night as well. They can tell if they are making someone crazy I think. If you harrass them they will make a mess the next time they can come by, and they are smart enough to come at random times too sometimes.

Posted by Ano Nymous, a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Then again, look at all of the damage that has been inflicted by unleashed Palo Alto officials/employees...

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Ooops, in that last post I meant to type raccoons .... not squirrels. LOL.

Posted by MIke, a resident of University South
on Sep 12, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Regardless your personal beliefs. unleashed dogs in prohibited public places is a ticket-able offense. You risk getting a ticket or worse. If you are bothered by unleashed dogs, call Animal Control at 650-329-2413.

Posted by Commander McBragg, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I won't even talk about all the people who insist on having their dog crap on my lawn, knowing that I resent it. That's another (long)story. I just want to relate one story from a while ago. I drove to Santa Cruz and was listening to a radio program in my car. I parked my car in a neighborhood and sat in the car for a few minutes while I waited for the program to end. As I was sitting there, just after sunset, a person came out of the house I was parked in front of with a dog on a leash. They went down the street behind me, and it seemed like the dog owner was taking the dog out for a walk. When they returned about maybe three minutes later, it became obvious that the guy just took the dog out for a crap, in someone else's yard. That seems to be the norm for dog owners these days. When I go for a walk in my neighborhood, it is common for me to see dog logs sitting in the middle of someone's lawn. But the most annoying thing is all the dogs who run to the chain-link fence and act like they're going to kill me, if they could just get through the fence, as I walk by on the sidewalk. It makes me think about something my father said when I was young; "Anyone who's best friend is a dog is a moron."

Posted by Dog Owner, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

Well, I certainly got a discussion going here, didn't I?

Perhaps a summary is in order!

1. Keep your dog on a leash, everywhere in Palo Alto.
2. Pick up after your dog, and do not dispose of the poop in other people's garbage cans.
3. Other people's front yards are not your dog's designated toilet.
4. Respect the fact that some people do not like dogs, do not want to encounter your dog, and may fear/have allergies to your dog.
5. There are off leash dog parks at Mitchell Park and Hoover Park, and in Mountain View at Shoreline.

Here's the chapter and verse of the rules:
Any dog or puppy must be controlled on a leash by an able-bodied person, at all times, even when under supervision, whenever the dog is on public property. This includes all parks, sidewalks, streets, school grounds and the Baylands marsh areas or while on an unenclosed lot. The leash law is strictly enforced, but certain dog exercise areas have been created as playgrounds for exercising your dog off leash.

And here's the place to call if you see an unleashed dog:
Animal Control at 650-329-2413

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Signs in the parks would be good

Posted by robit noops, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I miss my pitty bully. She was a sweet dog who loved other dogs and people. She loved to go for long walks. My house or car were never broken in to.

Posted by Hmmm to robit noops, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

The pitties are so great! We get to sleep w/our windows open when we want thanks to a couple of them. Sometimes it's good to have a dog that looks scary but is a sweetheart.

Posted by Morning Runner, a resident of Ohlone School
on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:06 pm

About four months ago, I saw a couple of ladies walking their extremely hyper terrier at the baylands, chasing the local wildlife (Ducks, Coots, Jackrabbits) and when I jogged closer, the dog ran up to me and started chasing and nipping at my heels.

Really, dog owners? that kind of behaviour is NOT appreciated.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Dogs are not people and cannot be expected to make correct decisions when confronted with people, animals or situations (such as car traffic) which which they are unfamiliar. Therefore keeping them on leash in public spaces is imperative for their own safety as well as the safety of others.

Dog owners running dogs off leash in public spaces are behaving irresponsibly in a myriad of ways, not the least of which is that they set a bad example for others. No one's dog is above the law.

For an example of the ramifications of off leash dogs, read the following article.

Palo Alto Online News

Monday, December 11, 2006
Dog attack could have been fatal, father says

The Dec. 2 dog attack on a 5-year-old boy at Hoover Elementary School was "very, very close to being fatal," the boy's father, Greg Martin, said in an e-mail to friends.

If the dog had bitten the front rather than the back of Sean's neck, the deep incisions could have broken the artery or trachea, he said.

Martin elaborated on his conclusion in a posting on Town Square, the community forum at, which has logged more than 50 postings on the dog attack.

"My son could have easily been killed," Martin said after thanking those boys and men who helped rescue Sean Martin from the mixed-breed female dog. "As it is, he has 8 staples, 1 suture, a fractured vertebrae, numerous puncture wounds, and bruises all over his head, neck and knees.

"For now, only time will tell as to how much emotional damage was done to him and the other children who had to witness the unprovoked attack," he said.

As for the young rescuers, "All of these boys are either Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, and I am quite proud of the actions they took in trying to minimize the severity of the attack. Despite facing the risk of personal harm from the attacking dog, they did what they could to pull the dog off of Sean," Martin said.

He especially thanked a nearby soccer player who helped pull the dog off Sean then called 911. Other adults, including the dog's owner, helped pull the dog off.

Martin was critical of the online posting leading off with the dog facing death for the attack and an implication in comments by the city animal control supervisor that children should always be under close supervision by parents.

Noting that he was only about 50 yards away from the site of the attack, Martin said, "Had I been closer, maybe I could have helped pull the dog off of Sean, but I doubt I could have prevented the attack.

"Also, let's not lose perspective -- it was the dog owner's duty to prevent the attack, not mine," he said.

"If our kids aren't safe on our school playgrounds, where can they go to be safe?"

Sean, a kindergartner at Barron Park Elementary School, is recovering from his wounds but has developed a fear of dogs, his father said earlier.

The dog, at the owner's request, was scheduled to be euthanized on Tuesday. The as-yet-unidentified owner of the dog may be charged with a misdemeanor leash-law violation, according to Sandi Stadler, animal control supervisor.

The man had let his two dogs off leash in an enclosed play area, police Sgt. Sandra Brown reported. One boy opened the gate to the play area but was chased by the two dogs and was unable to close the gate, Don Verplanke, a Cub Scout leader whose son was also involved, told the Weekly via e-mail.

Sean was treated at Stanford Hospital.

The dog's owner, whose name was withheld by city officials, apologized and said he felt quite badly about the attack, Martin said. The dog, a spayed female about 3 years old, did not have a history of violence, Stadler said.

Although she may be part pit bull, the dog "actually looks more like an Australian shepherd cattle dog, also truly one of your Heinz 57 (varieties)," she said.

Martin initially identified both dogs as pit bulls: "I'm definitely a supporter of dogs in general but it's completely irresponsible to have two pit bulls in a school area (off-leash)," he said.

"I love dogs, and until recently owned two myself, Martin said in his Town Square posting.

"They were great dogs, and in their 15+ years of life, they never bit anyone. Nonetheless, I never lost sight of the fact they were dogs and were to be treated as such.

"So, for everyone out there with a dog, pit bull or otherwise, that thinks your dog is 'special' and the leash laws don't apply to you, I urge you to think again and keep your dog on a leash when you are in public.

"Had you heard the screams of pain from my son as they were stitching him up, taking x-rays and such, it might have convinced you that the leash laws are there for a reason and no matter how special your dog is, you aren't above the law," Martin concluded.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Just got back from a walk in the Palo Alto Baylands, where in the last 3 days I have seen at least one dog owner walking their PIT BULL type dog off leash, the latest was a tan PIT BULL being walked by two caucasian men towards Palo Alto about 1.5 hours ago.

This is an affront to all Palo Alto citizens. I well believe some of these dogs are the wonders of the K9 world their owners claim they are, but as strangers and citizens there is no way we can know or be sure, so every time I or anyone else has to walk by these dogs there is uncertainty that something could set them off or there could be some problem.

My solution is to ban all dogs in places where the Police cannot easily respond or monitor. That is the only way apparently to make dog owners behave responsibly.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 30, 2011 at 2:39 pm


I appreciate your thoughts on a solution, but I'm doubtful about whether it would work. Some dog owners are already flouting the current law, so what is to say they wouldn't flout any new law?

I have another solution in mind. What if concerned citizens of Palo Alto (such as you and I and others) were to form a citizen's watchdog group (no pun intended) where we take it upon ourselves to document repeat offenders (via video camera) and turn the documentation along with the offenders license plate, address or other identifying information, over to the police. Then we hound the police until they do something. We could also consider turning it over to the Palo Alto Weekly (if we thought public humiliation would do any good). Of course, to do this would require a serious donation of time on the part of volunteers.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

To Dog Owner, the original OP: It may be useful to carry a small boat horn to sound & scare off approaching dogs. It may not break up a fight, but it can prevent them. Pepper spray can blow around too much & a weapon such as a stick or parting stick is never a good idea. But a walking stick can also be useful, if at time unwieldy. You can keep dogs at bay w/it.

What I've like w/using boat horns is that it attracts the owner's attention. That can lead to a lousy interaction, but it you remain calm & businesslike, it can work to remind them to keep their dog on leash. I've used this technique successfully.

I'm all for off leash dogs, but not in droves or in such public places. I have my secret spots & believe me - they're not public parks. People also anthropomorphizing dog behavior too much & if their dog behaves aggressively toward another, they take it as a character flaw or remain in denial, instead of just accepting it & being more responsible. We have a dog aggro dog that we NEVER take off leash when in public. I've actually reminded people that if something happens when their off leash dog approaches mine & if mine bites, they're at fault, not me. That reminder has also made a HUGE difference ;-)

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2011 at 12:57 am

Jeff, that might be the only thing that might work.
So, who is going to do the "hounding"?
Is it legal to take people's pictures and show them in public. is a good website to post pictures, or even the Palo Alto Online if they would host the pictures ... which I doubt.

My disappointment is that what I want done is impossible - at least under current law. I do not understand why someone gets to take a dog such as a Pit Bull out in public at all. When I see all these people's Pit Bulls there is no way I can know what the state of affairs is with that dog ... so the risk and unpleasantness is all on me - and that is unacceptable in my opinion.

As a public citizen I want the right to be able to go anywhere -theoretically - without fearing for my safety.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 31, 2011 at 11:48 am

People "get" to take "dogs such as pit bulls" out in public because it is their right to do so, as is the right to take any breed of dog out on leash in public. If you don't like it, carry a legal defense mechanism, and/or avoid the dog.

There's an older man who walks a lovely pit bull down Hamilton all the time. I've walked past him & his pooch many times. The dog is sweet & well-mannered - no problem.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm


It has been a while since I've checked back here and just found your comment from Aug 31.

According to a wikipedia article on the subject (See wikipedia: "Photography and the Law") it is generally legal in the US to photograph anyone or anything ***on public property***. Since we are talking about public property here, it seems a good match. The problem is what then to do with the images captured. Whether it is legal to display them publically is another question, but I doubt whether it is problematic to share them with the authorities. I wonder if there is a way to get a habitual offender cited based on video evidence?

I've grown increasingly frustrated with the off-leash dog situation in our parks, of late. As a runner and walker, I've been chased and assaulted by off-leash dogs more times than I care to remember. I literally dread running through Cubberley now. There's no question in my mind, based on my experiences, that dogs become more territorial and aggressive when they are off-leash. And I love dogs... I grew up with hunting dogs. They are warm and loving with their own family, but territorial and even viscious with strangers, especially when left to their own devices.

I'm starting to appreciate the solution you originally proposed, namely to ban dogs in all areas not easily policeable (eg the Baylands). I have recently learned that Mountain View does not allow any dogs *at all* at Shoreline Park because of their proven negative effects on wildlife. Perhaps the Baylands should be (at least theoretically) dog free as well. Foothills Park does not allow dogs (even on leash) on the weekends, which works out well since that's when most people go to that park anyway.

I recently had a dog owner actually, literally spit in my face at Shoreline during an angry exchange over his off leash dog. I called the Mt View Police who informed me that they have an officer whose entire duty is to police that park. Do we have such an officer assigned to the Baylands? I haven't seen one, and am doubtful whether Palo Alto can afford it anyway.

I'm not sure that the Palo Alto police take off-leash dog reports very seriously. I understand that the police need to prioritize their time but, in the many calls I've made to the police re off-leash dogs, I believe I've detected a lack of concern as well (especially with whomever the dispatcher is on Saturday mornings). What has been your experience?

At any rate, we Palo Altans need to stop sitting on the sidelines expecting someone else to fight our fights for us. If we expect our neighbors to respect the leash laws, then we need to tell them so ourselves, and then phone the police and make a police report. Too many people just watch it happen and do nothing about it.

Posted by Out of control dogowners, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Dog owners are out of control. Someone who signs as Doggie Mom is pathetic.
I often find a little bag of dog-do in my COMPOST bin. Since the dog walker will probably be going home, why not take it with you and dispose of it on your own property?
If I ever catch them in the act I will express myself fully.

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