News

Palo Alto looks to unleash local dogs with 'shared-use' park

City's parks commissioners propose an experimental dog run

Dog owners yearning for new places to let their companions run free might soon get a little treat from the city.

Responding to years of complaints and requests from local dog lovers, Palo Alto is considering an experiment that would temporarily add a dog park to an existing recreation area. The six-month trial would create a shared-use area at a city-owned location, according to a proposal that the city's Parks and Recreation Commission discussed Tuesday night.

The three likeliest locations now under consideration are the Baylands Athletic Center, Greer Park and Hoover Park. Both parks already have small dog runs; the city's proposal would expand these areas and include new signs and fencing.

Parks commissioners on Tuesday emphasized that the experiment is, at best, a temporary solution to the puzzling problem of insufficient dog recreation areas. The City Council's recent attempt to build a new dog run at the renovated El Camino Park faltered because of the site's proximity to endangered species, and officials hope to come up with new ideas as part of the city's work on the new Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Master Plan. Once completed, the document will evaluate recreational needs and opportunities. In the meantime, the city staff is recommending the pilot program.

Details for the new dog park need to be hashed out, including the exact location and enforcement and outreach strategies. But commissioners, who did not vote on the proposal Tuesday, agreed that the plan is worth pursuing.

"It's really about taking a six-month period of time and looking at it in totality," said Abbie Knopper, member of an ad hoc committee that is refining the pilot program.

The city would measure the costs and benefits of the program and then consider whether it's worth making permanent, Knopper said. The proposal is fairly modest, with the shared-use area open for two morning hours from Monday to Friday. Yet plenty of questions remain unanswered. Commissioners wondered Tuesday whether the new dog run would add to maintenance costs and, if so, who would foot the bill. The ad hoc committee favored asking the city's nascent citizens group, Palo Alto Dog Owners, to coordinate, manage and fund a cleanup service like one used in Menlo Park, where a dog owner's group pays about $6,000 a year.

Rob De Geus, assistant director of the Community Services Department, said there is a benefit to having local dog users chip in because it would signal to other field users that the group is "organized and committed and contributing to the field." He also said he has some concerns about using staff.

"We struggle to keep up with athletic fields as they are," De Geus said.

Commissioner Deirdre Crommie disagreed and argued that the dog group should not have to finance this project.

"I think it's setting the wrong precedent here," Crommie said. "I think people who own dogs are fully entitled to services within our city."

Otherwise, she said she was happy to see the trial start.

The parks commission has been considering new dog opportunities for years. In 2009, members held a public meeting with about 100 dog owners. According to staff, many residents expressed a strong desire for off-leash dog recreation areas in all areas of Palo Alto and for possible use of fenced athletic fields during non-peak hours by off-leash dogs. The conversation continued this summer, when the ad hoc committee met with Palo Alto Dog Owners, which has about 300 members.

The city's existing dog amenities are limited to the two small dog runs in Greer and Hoover parks (0.12 and 0.14 acres, respectively) and a half-acre area in Mitchell Park. The new shared-use park would be significantly larger -- at least 0.9 acres.

Howard Hoffman, a member of Palo Alto Dog Owners, said his group is pleased with the commission's proposal and suggested that the new facility be located close to where people live. In other words, not in the Baylands.

"We don't feel this is going to be the total solution, but we're happy to see something," Hoffman said. "We know the city is in the middle of a major effort of doing a new master plan for parks. We hope it's going to include some opportunities for dog recreation, particularly since (the pilot) doesn't address north of Oregon Expressway."

Former commissioner and avowed dog owner Daria Walsh also said she was pleased about the proposed pilot. She noted that it's not just dogs that benefit from the facilities.

"Recreational dog facilities allow a really deep connection between people," Walsh said. "It's just a way you can connect with people that is beyond a lot of other options in the city."

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by small dog owner
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 1:01 am

It would be ideal if there could be separate areas for large and small dogs, as is the case in the MV dog park. I know that many smaller dogs (like mine) are intimidated by the larger ones.


1 person likes this
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:41 am

Some athletics fields, Jordan for example, are used over the weekend by non residents for soccer. Why not turn Jordan into a dog park on the weekend instead, after AYSO and CYSA have finished their games?


3 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 24, 2014 at 7:44 am

@boscoli - the Jordan fields are already used as an off leash dog park every evening and almost any time there isn't athletic events going on. The field can't be used on Sunday's for any organized athletic event.

I like the idea of a small and large dog park!


11 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 24, 2014 at 7:54 am

Many schools are used as illegal dog runs on weekends and in most cases there are no issues. However, every Monday kids come in from recess with dog doo on their shoes. There are people out there who are not cleaning up after their pets - they feel entitled to do nothing. As more space is added for dogs the fines should go up for irresponsible dog owners and the rules should be enforced.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

Not a dog owner, but have lived and grew up with dogs. Dogs are much better behaved when they are well exercised and the best type of exercise is not on a leash.

Saying that, I think we are on the right track with these ideas. Myself, I would want to be able to walk my dog to a dog park, not drive the dog there. Can't see why anyone would want to put the dog in the car to take him for a walk. So making the dog parks in residential areas in different areas of the city makes sense.

As for the cost of the extra upkeep: don't dogs have to be licensed? Should the license fee for all Palo Alto dogs cover the cost of facilities for dogs the city provides? I don't know what the annual cost of a license is, but where does the license money go?


2 people like this
Posted by another res
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 8:40 am

Resident,

"Can't see why anyone would want to put the dog in the car to take him for a walk. So making the dog parks in residential areas in different areas of the city makes sense."

Not in Palo Alto traffic, and having to drive is not very green.




7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 8:50 am

The playing fields are JLS are used as free dog runs even when the students are out during PE and there's a free dog area next to the fields. Why do pampered dog owners need more space when they are already flaunting dog rules? The kids love sliding in the dog poop leave on the fields...


11 people like this
Posted by katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2014 at 9:21 am

All schools should prohibit dogs. Our children spend way too much of their recess time wiping dog poop off of their shoes and clothing. They track it into the classroom and onto the rugs where kids sit. It's a real problem and the dog owners I have talked to don't seem to care.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

Schools are not public parks and are not dog parks.
The city can't declare a school (e.g., Jordan) a dog park, it is PAUSD property.
All PAUSD schools prohibit dogs on campus during school hours.


5 people like this
Posted by off leash dog
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

I would be nice to have one downtown North. I think fencing off the smaller park tim hopikins park would be a good idea for the dtn.


6 people like this
Posted by Dog owner who thinks this is a bad idea.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:39 am

I would like the city to conduct this EXPERIMENT in one north Palo Alto park and one south Palo Alto park instead of two south Palo alto parks. I am very tired of being the subject of all of the city's experiments.

I am a dog owner. My dog has been ATTACKED twice this year by larger off-leash dogs at Mitchell Park and at JLS Middle School. (My medium-sized dog was on-leash during both incidents.) I am NOT in favor of this. Many dog owners have no idea how to manage a dog off-leash. These people do dangerous things--aside from just getting lost in conversation and paying no attention to what their dog is doing--pooping, harassing picnickers, chasing and frightening small children. I have seen it all.

Put one of these experiments in NORTH Palo Alto so that our north PA-driven government appointeds and electeds can also see and live with the impacts.


4 people like this
Posted by DoodyCalls
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:21 am

We have been involved in a number of dog park projects in the area. For the bag supply side and waste bins and service to the planning. From experience shared use on fields used by sports teams is a bad idea. One waste is missed and can not be fully clean up (i.e. the wet stuff). Secondly dogs run and dig and the field over time will develop clumps of grass. Big hazard and will cause injuries. So the the maintenance of these areas will have to be increased for sure. Mixing non dog owners an owners can be a recipe for disaster. Dog owners expect that of leash dogs bring risk that they accept to a certain extent when you enter a park. Recently at our dog park an owner was knock down while her dog was chasing another and broke her shoulder, what if it was just someone in the off leash shared use area without a dog?

DoodyCalls San Mateo


4 people like this
Posted by K9 Guardian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

As a dog owner who views dog parks with some skepticism due to the lack of oversight by owners who sit there chatting, texting, and web surfing, oblivious to their dogs who may or may not be intimidating, or being intimidated by, other dogs; not to mention defecating while the owner is unaware and thus the pile remains for others to deal with, I'm not sure this is a good idea. I see plenty of dog poop on the sidewalks while taking leashed walks--you'd think common courtesy dictates picking it up. Additionally, reactive dogs should not be running off leash, and yes, I am aware that some reactivity is aggravated by being on leash. Unless you are willing to spend $$$ to have a behaviorist test out your dog to see if that is really the case, why risk it? Also have encountered "professional" dog walkers at dog parks with more than 3 dogs per handler--is this really a good idea?


2 people like this
Posted by K9 Guardian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:34 am

to Dog owner who thinks this is a bad idea,

Well said and I agree with you.

Yes--please--in NORTH Palo Alto--ARE there even any dog parks there now?


1 person likes this
Posted by traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:38 am

Oh hello palo altans....i do not own a dog....however many of my "friends" (i have none anymore...because i am the only honest loving person on the planet so far...and people don't like honesty or hearing their own lies repeated back to them..lol)...sorry for the strange info...rough day over here...anyway...MANY poeple FOR 50 years left their dogs with me for weeks at a time FOR FREE because I LOVED them..and their dogs very very much...i've been to the dog parks...i ride an angel of a horse in the arastradero preserve every day....you know WHAT....the person who said dogs are better off OFF LEASH...is CORRECT...for a number of reasons....for THEIR well being...AND to decrease the risk of THEIR being a problem for anyone else....NOW..That being said...i know VERY FEW people who can actually control their dogs off leash...and if you CAN'T you have NO right letting them BE off leash around others...however...WE NEED PLACES for people to PRACTICE THEIR CONTROL....AND...as far as I'M concerned they CAN ALL GO OFF LEASH always....and EVERYONE should be ARMED and ready to SHOOT THEM if they attack...i'm fine with all dogs around my horse...he fears nothing...and if they attack, he will take their heads off with one kick


3 people like this
Posted by janisw
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

I've seen this time & again when visiting the dog parks with my dogs. Over the years I've owned a smaller, more timid dog & a medium sized friendly, non-aggressive but assertive dog. Dogs are very tuned in to their owners state of mind. They really don't care much about size (unless the owner is feeling intimidated), they are either timid or aggressive based on their personality & socialization (and their owner's)& how much they like the other dog (who knows how they decide that!), NOT their size. Unfortunately poor socialization & bad behavior (in both dogs & their owners) cannot be legislated - inconsiderate people will let their poorly behaved dogs off leash , and behave badly in or out of a designated fenced area regardless of the "rules". Since there is no one onsite to provide enforcement (and doing so would be financially imprudent)there is not much more that can be done other than everyone trying to keep their own dog under control and keeping a watchful eye out for those who don't.
I do agree that more options for our pets to enjoy an off leash run would be beneficial and should be fairly distributed around the city.


5 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

The dogs DON'T need the training, the DOG OWNERS do!! The parks are a great idea, and Downtown North could use one. . .


6 people like this
Posted by ScoobyDoobyWhereAreYou
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:57 am

I love dogs, have had 3 in appropriate environments.
Palo Alto is not an appropriate environment sorry to say.
I have a neighbor who cannot control her dogs, but she has 3 of them that constantly yap.
Her solution, since she is very rich, she moves them from house to house annoying different people sequentially. These little dogs also had the nerve to bite me for just walking by her house

Then there are the people who seem to love to walk their Pit Bulls around other people and see them get nervous. I, and you, have no idea what a large dog is like, how well trained he is, or how genetically predisposed they are to get violent. No one wants to find out of complain, so we have fruit loops with Pit Bulls walking all over the city. I do not want to have to be exposed to a dog that is big enough to attack me when I have no idea who or what it is.

Finally, another thing dog owners do is that they walk their dogs, and while walking pick up poop, and since they like their dogs, but they do not like their dog's poop, they drop their little bags (when they bother to pick it up at all) in other people's garbage containers that might be out stinking them up and taking up garbage space they did not pay for.

I love dogs, it is too bad most of them seem to have such rude and careless owners.

I am sick of it actually and I'd like to see all dogs banned. It's just like in everything now there is such a sizable population of people that just do not get it, it's all ruined. I'd actually like to walk around and be able to interact with dogs, dogs are cool, much cooler than cats, but dogs have to do what their owners make them do.


4 people like this
Posted by ScoobyDoobyWhereAreYou
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:59 am

While I agree with Barbara, that dogs are innocent and the real animals are the owners ... I think when you go out of your way to institutionalize extra stuff for the dogs what is going to happen is that dog owners take even more than is given and act more entitled than ever. No good deed ever goes unpunished.


6 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

I lived adjacent to Hoover Park for a few years, and have a dog. It is pretty clear that the de facto state of affairs is that dog owners let their dogs run off leash in back of the baseball diamond in the late afternoon and early morning. Most owners are quite responsible and always clean up after their pets. In the hundreds of times that I was out there with my dog, I never saw aggressive behavior by the dogs, although I did see some neighbors terrified of dogs running loose. It would seem like a sensible compromise to do what NYC does, allow dogs to play at certain times of day, such as before 8:30am, after 6pm, and prohibit them at other times or during specific situations. What doesn't make sense is to continue to have policies which are neither followed nor enforced.


4 people like this
Posted by ScoobyDoobyWhereAreYou
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

>> there are people at the arastradero preserve LEAVING THEIR DOG POOP IN PLASTIC BAGS ON THE TRAIL

Oh, boy do I agree with traceychen on that one.

Except it is not just in the Arastradero preserve, it is all over. I see bags of dog poop on the streets of Palo Alto, when it is not garbage day or the dog owners cannot throw their dog crap into other people's trash cans. Go to the BayLands now and they don't even bother picking it up now, you just dog pile after dog pile, with an occasional bright blue bag full of dog poop.

In this day and age in our society, people want to have dogs because they remember dogs from their childhood or stories of dogs or dogs from other places like in the country, and they want to do the same thing here. As much as they want to, they do not really have the energy and time these days, nor the social training or civility to think of their fellow Palo Alto residents and neighbors.


7 people like this
Posted by Time for a new fashion
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Owning a dog is a fashion statement. Dog owners should buy land and maintain a park for their animals.
People with children pay for schools and we all share because we believe it is good for society that children are educated.
Not so with dogs. I do not want to pay for dog parks or cleaning up after the slobs leave their doo in the public space..
Time for a new fashion fetish, you know, like dumb-phones; or anything that doesn't defecate in public.


9 people like this
Posted by Makes My Blood Boil
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:37 pm

No, it's not good enough that owners pick up the feces - they should not be trespassing and using private property for a toilet.

All three of my PAUSD children have gotten dog feces on their shoes or hands. Dogs should be banned from school grounds 24/7, as their feces and behavior are hazards. I saw a dog defecating on the kindergarten playground lawn as school was beginning. No doubt, children will be running and rolling on the lawn at recess. I've had dogs on leashes charge at my children. If my children are ever bitten by a dog, I am suing the heck out of the owner.

Better yet, ban dog walking and force residents to use dog parks . . . when pigs fly, right.


5 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Why bother spending money on this? Just about every school and park has dogs off leash every single day. The police and animal control are well aware and do nothing. What is this dog park going to accomplish? There are 5 times more dogs running at Jordan every night than there are at the existing dog parks.

You could be at a park, having a smoke, with your dog off leash, and the PAPD would drive by and give you a wave.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Annie's Biped
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm

A LARGE dog park would be wonderful. Especially wonderful would be one that could be split into two sections, one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. Dublin Ohio has a terrific park that could serve as a model. The park provides water stations as well as poop bags and a disposal area.
That said, it is difficult to use a small park with many uncontrolled dogs simply running around off leash. It would be nice to have an area set up with rally and agility equipment or obedience jumps, encouraging owners to train their dogs. Until we can solve the uncontrolled, unruly behavior in dog parks, my dog will continue to walk in our neighborhood on leash, and go to obedience classes.


8 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2014 at 1:28 pm

When that young boy was attacked at a school yard by an off leash dog, a few years back, that should have been enough warning to the City of Palo Alto. If not, I will make it clear here: When an off-leash dog mauls a kid (or adult), again, in PA the City will be facing MAJOR financial liability (think $millions). Then pray that the attack is not fatal.


3 people like this
Posted by Dog owner with children
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 1:53 pm

To people without dogs who complain about dogs living in our community: you sound like people without children complaining about those snot-nosed, grimy, horrid little creatures biking, skateboarding, and scooter-riding all over our city who require us to pay extra parcel taxes to support their stupid schools. I have both categories of living beings in my household. My wife used to dislike having dogs. Then we rescued one. The dog has changed our children's lives, like pets usually do, and the scruffy little thing hardly serves as a fashion statement. They always have been and always will be a part of human families, and we are all responsible for them. That's what "community" means, so get over it. Only cold-hearted people don't understand this. (@Makes My Blood Boil, @Time for a new fashion, etc.)

There are very good reasons to support the creation of a sizable dog park, separating big dogs and small dogs, in north Palo Alto. I am a small dog owner with two children who lives in north Palo Alto.
- I don't like people who allow dogs of any size with no training or discipline to run free without oversight. At Mitchell Park Dog Park, my dog was body-slammed by an overgrown poodle puppy whose idiot owner thought it was very cute, even though my dog came away limping. Another large, running dog accidentally knocked over Grandma at Jordan when she went for a walk, and she fell and injured her leg.
- I also don't like people leaving their dogs' poop in our children's schools. It is a public health issue.
- My yard is not large enough for my dog to run free and get exercise. Walks are insufficient. There are A LOT of dogs in our neighborhood who have the same problem.
- I don't want to drive to Hoover or Mitchell Park. Greer Park dog run is worthless. And I don't want to go to my daughter's middle school in the evening, illegally, and let the dog loose, even though I always clean up after my dog. My children should have playing fields in pristine condition.

I am disappointed that the pilot doesn't include a space north of Oregon Expressway. It's time to get politically involved.


2 people like this
Posted by katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

To me it's so simple, there is a leash law! Follow the rules and we will all be better off. For those dog owners that don't want to follow the leash law it comes down to attitude.

Out of curiosity where would one propose a large dog run in North Palo Alto. There is no free space left in this town for anything. We are so maxed out on every level. The only park in North Palo Alto is Johnson Park which is so small you can barely have one game of soccer and a game of tag going on at the same time.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Since probably half of all Palo Alto households have a dog, I'll guess about half of all property taxes are paid by dog owners. Maybe it is a little less than half, and as a result, this vast number of people get virtually nothing from the city. Is this appropriate? Or responsible?

Any community has many problems and many benefits. Most assuredly, dogs are not one of our big problems! The loud complaints seem to come mostly from the intent of a few to dictate the lifestyle of the many.

I encourage Palo Alto to consider the the population of resident families who pay taxes and raise typical families which so often includes a dog. (and always has...)

A featureless patch of dirt containing a high density of dogs does not help. Let's consider opening up about half the park lands, reserving the rest for the relatively few who apparently cannot tolerate man's oldest friend.

I don't understand why Palo Alto is so rabidly against dogs. We seem to be the worst city I know of in this regard. Has this been a benefit?


2 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

I can't see dog owners carting their pets out of their neighborhoods when they can just take them to the nearest park and let them off-leash. I have seen a few people working on dog training, which somebody mentioned as a good use of dog parks. In general, however, few dog owners go to obedience school with their dogs. I disagree with whoever said dogs don't need training. Yes they do. The trend of taking dogs into stores, salons, restaurant patios is troubling due to lack of obedience training. I'm already sick of dog altercations at restaurant patios and throughout the city on sidewalks. Pitbulls off leash, or tiredness, or any other breed bred for aggression and locked jaws is really frightening.


3 people like this
Posted by katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm

It's the irresponsible dog owners with bad attitudes that ruin it for the dogs. Dogs get a bad rap because of their owners. It's not the other way around. The dogs are innocent in all of this.


1 person likes this
Posted by Boil
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

> Since probably half of all Palo Alto households have a dog

Wonder where we can get a reading on this point? Maybe we should have a dog registry, and have a city employee empowered to enter any home in the city--whether they have a dog or not--to determine if the home's dog(s) are properly registered.

And what happens when one of these unleased dogs manages to bit someone--like a child? What happens then? Will the police accept calls about dogs in city parks that are bitting people?


3 people like this
Posted by Dog owner with children
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm

@resident: "I don't understand why Palo Alto is so rabidly against dogs."

It's because some people don't understand the value of animals other than Homo sapiens sapiens in our lives. They will always be present and loud.

@ChrisC: YES. As part of the mandatory dog licensing process, every dog owner should at least be required to produce a certificate of completion of training school. BTW, the humans are primarily the ones who need training, not the dogs, since the humans need to keep it up after they leave the class. However, we also seem to have a shortage of good, affordable training schools worth taking your dog to. Chicken-and-egg problem.

@katie:

Regarding where in north Palo Alto: Eleanor Pardee park and Rinconada Park come to mind.

"To me it's so simple, there is a leash law! Follow the rules and we will all be better off. For those dog owners that don't want to follow the leash law it comes down to attitude."

With all due respect, leash laws, while important, are orthogonal to the dog park discussion. Most dog owners want everyone to follow the leash law. This is not just for the safety of other people and dogs. It's also for keeping clueless canines like my own from getting run over by a stealthy Tesla Model S or attacked by someone else's aggressive, untrained dog. No one is arguing with that.

However, most people cannot run alongside their dogs for extended periods of time, and elderly people especially cannot walk long distances. Last I checked, the YMCA and 24-hr Fitness don't allow dogs on their treadmills. So while P.A. human residents put on Namaste and Lululemon yoga pants and do Surya Namaskar at Samyama Yoga Studios, or bike and run up and down our beautiful town, dog owners have no such options. (I am still trying to teach my dog mindfulness meditation and yoga, but not getting very far.)

Do you want your neighbors' dogs to shut up from incessant barking and sleep more, or stop digging under the fence because they're bored? Give dogs a space where they can run until they're tired as heck without affecting people who don't like them or want them around. We pay taxes too, and it's not like we don't have children, grandparents, schools, and landscaped gardens to protect. This would be a win-win for the community.


2 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm

>Pitbulls off leash, or tiredness, or any other breed bred for aggression and locked jaws is really frightening.

The aggressive breeds should be banned, period. There is no reason that they should be allowed to breed. Don't listen to their defenders who say that they are just lovable, adorable friends who would rather lick you than bite you (that is a cover for their owners, who feel persecuted).

I had many dogs out on the farm, as a kid. Loved them, but was aware that they can 'snap' in a an aggressive way. Dogs are pack animals by nature. I think it is cruel to isolate them away from their pack, by keeping them locked up in the urban environment...just my opinion.

Allowing dogs off leash in our parks is a prescription for a MAJOR liability event. Palo Alto cannot pretend that it is not aware of the danger.


5 people like this
Posted by Time for a new fashion
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm

If your "lifestyle" includes having your dog defecate on people's lawns or on school playgrounds or in parks, yes that lifestyle needs external controls. Some owners need to learn what constitutes acceptable behavior in a city. It may be hard hearted not to love your dog, but face it, lots of people do not love your dog.

Maybe some dog owners didn't realize what is involved in owning a mature dog, just as people who admire adorable babies don't realize that life gets more complicated as the children grow up.

Too bad the responsible owners are tainted by the irresponsible ones. Maybe they need to organize in order to establish decent behavior.


5 people like this
Posted by more enforcement needed
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Most of us live pretty close together. Even with double-paned windows, barking and yapping dogs are a problem. We aren't in true suburbia or out in the countryside.
There IS indeed a problem with discourtesy of dog owners/dogwalkers not cleaning up after their dogs, apparently even encouraging their animals to poop on peoples' plants, and this is filthy and awful to clean up. I take many hours of care of my own property and I am greatly offended when I have to clean up the poop of someone else's dog.
I oppose allowing animals on public school property because of public health and safety concerns. I also oppose dogs in the Baylands area threatening the public as well as the wildlife we purport to care so much about.
I also recall an incident wherein a young boy was greatly injured in Palo Alto by another's dog; these things DO happen. Years ago my parent was attacked by a large dog and suffered injuries and this was no joke.


2 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I'm in Mitchell Park or occasionally another PA park 5-6 days a week, often for hours at a time, training(people, not dogs). It is rare enough to see dog feces that I can recall only once, and I don't every remember seeing a dog that was aggressive to another dog or a human. No doubt it happens, but I have experience that tells me it is not common.

I say make shared use the rule, with people only parks or fenced areas the exception.


1 person likes this
Posted by My Two Cents
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I thought Palo Alto already HAD multiple large-dog parks (one on Cowper, one at Mitchell park, one on Greer, maybe others). What we LACK is even one small-dog park. Small dogs can't really go hiking in large rural parks, and really need a nice place in the city.

Please give us a small-dog park!


3 people like this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:01 pm

> Please give us a small-dog park!

Wonder why these dog owners expect the non-dog owners to pay for their animals health care, and exercise yards?

Why can't all of these dog owners get together, organize a dog owners' association, and purchase some land where they can exercise their dogs as they see fit--rather than forcing their animals, and the cost of their animals, down our throats? Why can't dog owners be a little more responsible?


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Posted by Dog owner with children
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:04 pm

@Wondering: If a dog bites someone, on or off-leash, you should call the police and/or Animal Services. They will try to determine what happened, possibly take the dog away to the shelter, and in extreme cases (mauling), euthanize the dog.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Dogs aren't usually taken to the shelter after a dog bite. They're usually quarantined at home. If it's a mauling or worse, then that's a different story.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Just looked up the license information on the City website. Web Link

I find it difficult to understand and perhaps a dog owner can help me.

Is this an annual license or a once off payment. It makes sense to me that dogs should have an annual license fee and the cost should cover the upkeep of dog parks and dog facilities.


3 people like this
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Leashed dogs in an area in which other dogs are running off leash makes those dogs, and the leashed dogs, aggressive. It is a very bad idea. I have seen many leashed dogs attacked by off leash dogs in dog parks. If you refuse to off leash your dog around other dogs, the dog park is not for you. Walking him/her would be a much better idea. I have seen too many situations in which dogs were running and playing wonderfully, peacwdpNfully and playfully until a dog owner who refused to off leash his dog showed up and then all hell broke loose.


2 people like this
Posted by The irony
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I agree that we should not have a shared space. I want an enclosed space, fenced in, like @Dog owner with children. Shared spaces are a bad idea unless the dogs are on leash.

As for those who are so vehemently opposed to dogs as pets in our community, under any circumstance: the creatures of the world called, and they want their homes and habitats back. We are worse than cockroaches because for the most part, we don't give anything to the ecosystem, only take. We and our creations defecate everywhere, and dump our sewage into the air, rivers, streams, bays, and ocean due to our "lifestyle" choices. As we build more sterile spaces and higher walls, the other animals are waiting patiently for us to go extinct. Why not try to co-exist with them for a change?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

One more thought. In the UK and probably other countries, all children's play areas in parks must be fenced in with child proof gates. This rule prevents children running off and also keeps unleashed dogs from entering. It is probably a help in preventing child abduction also. Why don't we have fences and gates to protect our kids in parks?


11 people like this
Posted by Bert
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Owners who let their dogs **** on school playing fields, and leave it for kids to find the next day, are no better than what their dogs leave behind. There is absolutely no excuse for this behavior and I would support an outright ban on dogs from school grounds.


4 people like this
Posted by Kammi
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 6:13 am

Don't let you dogs pee on the playground equipment. I see it all the time. GROSS!


1 person likes this
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2014 at 7:12 am

How do you keep a dog from urinating? Dogs don't give any warning sign before urination. [Portion removed.] As far as dogs defecating on school playing fields, it's highly irresponsible and selfish for dog owners not clean up after their dogs. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2014 at 8:55 am

I don't understand what is so complicated about establishing clean and safe dog parks.

School yards are clearly not the place for dog poop and pee. No matter how much people might want to believe the deposits are cleaned up, some is left -- and the kid sliding into 3rd base gets a blast of terrible germs.

I (and my doggie) suggest that Palo Alto simply takes the Foster City Dog Park as a model, and keeps dog parks away from schools.

--- Foster City Dog Park is a fenced area with artificial turf (deep cleaned regularly) with separate areas for large and small dogs. The dogs LOVE IT and fights are extremely rare (haven't seen one in years)

--- Yes, some have to drive to the Dog Park. So what? You can't have everything.


6 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2014 at 9:44 am

I adore dogs and grew up with three. BUT, dogs are not like people.Dogs can't grow up to perform useful tasks to the community, except with statistically very rare trained exceptions.Dogs can't become your plumber,your mayor, your gardener,doctor,your teacher etc, and cannot become independent (at least the non-wild ones can't) from you. They are only consumers who by and large benefit only their owners. If you love them as much as I do you will understand that it is a purely personal choice whose impact on other people its owners should strive to make minimal. A dog is not your child, no matter how you feel about the animal. So, why should the other Palo Altans subsidize your choice? We subsidize the schools, parks to name just 2 because they part of the common good. Your dog, its poo, its barking is not. I myself have heartfelt sentiments about many living creatures. That is my personal business which I wouldn't want to impose on you. Please don't ask that space be given to your personal choice. You are taking it away from people who benefit or have benefited society and want it given to you for free because you feel entitled to more than others. If you chose to have a dog for recreational purposes set it free in your backyard, do not polute common spaces. If you don't have a backyard don't have a dog. And if you already have one pick up after it. That is the least you can do for imposing on others.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:17 am

ndn --- the discussion is not about HAVING dogs, it's about having areas that can be clean and usable dog parks. Until dogs learn to use a toilet, this will be a problem.

As a citizen I subsidize a lot of things I don't use: Parks for kids (don't have any), bike lanes I don't use, public health programs, etc. I subsidize the personal choices of lots of folks. It's just part of being in a civilized community.

The whole Libertarian thing is getting very illogical and is wearing very thin. Now are the editors going to purge that statement?


1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:19 am

Forgot to mention -- dog license fees should finance dog parks. Then, Mr./Ms "nun" needed complain.


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Posted by DrLarry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:36 am

As a medical professional I spend some time each year traveling coast to coast. A few visits ago I was in Boston for a conference and a young resident was talking about having to go let his dog run around in a park down the street. As a dog owner myself I asked him for more info and he was only able to get me the name of the park. I found the information online and think it is a great idea for us here. The link is: Web Link.


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

Our dog has been part of our family for over 12 years. We purposely selected a breed (Cavalier) that would fit inside our home and our yard. We do take her for walks as well. Our lot is approx 8500, providing a backyard that is large enough for play, ball fetching, etc.

My point? Why do people adopt or purchase dogs that are too large for their properties and then expect others to accommodate for their lack of foresight on the exercise needs of their dog? The leash laws in PA have been on the books for decades.

Kind of like stop signs that have been at intersections since 1930. Yet some people just don't want to stop. I don't get it.


1 person likes this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Makes My Blood Boil - count yourself lucky that is all you have to complain about with regard to your kids and city parks. Do you not even recall when people weren't required to clean up after their dogs?


5 people like this
Posted by Midtown Coach and Dog owner
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Dogs and athletic fields don't mix. Our kids shouldn't be sliding, sitting, and rolling in dog feces, which is exactly what happens when the fields are used as off-leash dog parks - whether 'officially' or illegally.

I support a fenced grassy area for dogs which is NOT already used as an athletic field. There are smaller parks, not used for sports, located in North Palo Alto where no dog runs currently exist.

The idea that an existing athletic field fence makes a dog run cheaper is a false economy. The additional costs of enforcement, cleanup, field maintenance, and possible medical claims are substantial.


4 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm

If we build it, will they poop, and clean it up?

That is the question. I know there are many responsible dog owners, but the conditions in our city are not right to incentivize everyone, or catch the scofflaws in most things. We cannot enforce traffic laws, and we sure as heck cannot enforce dog pooping problems.

Much as I love dogs ... I don't love most dog owners that I come in contact with. It is such a delight to see a fellow citizen doing the right thing, but that if too often the minority of actions I see.

Almost every week on garbage collection day I find dog poop in my trash cans when I come home deposited in there from some deadbeat dog owner who does not want to live with the consequences of their dog ownership and has found a nice way to stink up other people's lives with his problems.

This is what Palo Alto has devolved into ... the smart and clever people show their superiority by metaphorically dumping crap on the rest of us in one way or another. People used to find ways to go out of their way to be nice to their neighbors, now it is just take advantage and then call them names and scowl when they complain.


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm

It's been suggested that the new shared use dog site be in North Palo Alto. How about the area above the parking lot next to city hall? It's almost half of a city block and it would welcome everyone to the new $4.5 Million lobby.


1 person likes this
Posted by Vet Tech
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Any veterinarian will tell you that dog parks are a bad idea because they are unhealthy for dogs. Your dog can pick up parasites, tracheal infections, fungal infections, and a host of other illnesses to say nothing of injuries from more aggressive dogs.


2 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I have two dogs and love them. If there we add add a "shared use" park, I would like it to be in an actually City Park not a school. I would also like the City to start enforcing off-leash laws at the school sites. We're tired of kids coming home from Addison and Jordan with dog poop on them.

Dog PARK not dog SCHOOL!


1 person likes this
Posted by Tired of Stepping in Dog Poop
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

I agree with many people who have commented here, including dog owners, who agree that schools and sports fields and dog runs DO NOT MIX!!! Please please please do not make the recently upgraded baseball diamond in Hoover Park a shared used park for kids and dogs! My child plays baseball at Nealon Park in Menlo Park, a shared use facility. He regularly comes home having stepped in dog poop. Yea, real fun sliding to catch a fly ball with dog poop smeared all over you. Also, my kids go to PAUSD. In spite of signs on all school campuses asking dog owners to pick up their dog's poop and the health hazards to kids, my kids regularly came home having stepped in dog poop at school on the fields. The night stalker dog owners go to the schools in the dark, let the dogs run around and poop wherever, then leave it for the children to step in the next day (I've seen them there letting their dogs run like crazy all over and they can't even see their pets in the dark). It's DISGUSTING! How would the dog owner feel about having their dog's poop smeared all over their shoes and clothes every week? Dogs already have a designated run in Hoover Park! Dog owners already ignore the on-leash rules in Hoover Park and poop in the soccer field! And now the dog owners want more space for their dogs to run around and poop all over the Hoover Park baseball diamond?! I can't even take a walk around midtown neighborhood without stepping in dog poop on the sidewalk! I've even found dog poop inside my fence in my front yard! NO SHARED USED FACILITY!!! Keep your dogs where they belong: on a leash or in a designated dog run.


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