News

Palo Alto pet owners can be liable when their dogs attack

 

Muffin got lucky the day a large labradoodle attacked him and his owner during a walk in their Crescent Park neighborhood. The 8-year-old male bichon frisé with gentle, dark eyes narrowly escaped being mauled after the labradoodle jumped a fence on the 1300 block of Hamilton Avenue on Saturday, June 18.

Muffin's owner, David Kwoh, held his pet up above his head, but the big dog jumped and bit Muffin on the rear, twisting and yanking the little dog.

"The force was so great that I fell on the ground," Kwoh recalled. "The dog bit my pants leg; it was pulling on my jeans. Then he went to bite Muffin on the head and bit and pulled his ear."

Muffin, luckily, did not receive any puncture wounds, Kwoh said. The labradoodle's owners came to the Kwohs' home to apologize and offered to pay for veterinary expenses.

But the attack on Kwoh and Muffin wasn't the first by this dog. And the repeat offenses are illustrative of how some aggressive animals can slip through the cracks in Palo Alto. In the past few years, at least one of the two labradoodles at this residence has attacked two other pets in the neighborhood, and both canine victims required veterinary care, their owners said.

City of Palo Alto Animal Services officers did not deem the offending dog dangerous because no one reported the prior incidents, which occurred in the last several years. At least one resident now regrets she did not file a report on the attacks on her dog, who then needed veterinary care.

Margo Baeth said her dog was targeted twice within six months in 2013 by the labradoodles.

"The first occurrence happened while my husband was walking our bichon, and the second when I and our 4-year-old son were walking our dog. The attacking dogs were able to jump the side fence across their driveway and be on us instantly," Baeth said.

"Until it happens to you, it is hard to understand how very traumatic the experience is. One minute you are peacefully walking, and the next, your cherished dog is screaming and being attacked viciously," she said. "To this day, my dog will do everything in her power to avoid walking in front of that house."

Hyun-Sook Park, another neighborhood resident, is more fearful of dogs since her own labradoodle, Sunny, was attacked by one of the Hamilton Avenue dogs while walking at Duveneck Elementary School, she said.

"I often see the dog owner taking his aggressive dogs for a walk on Dana Avenue. ... Every time I see him walking his dogs, I turn around and rush back home or take a different route," Park said.

She noted that a few days after the attack on the Kwohs' dog, she and Sunny had another run-in with one of the labradoodles.

Park and Baeth did not report the incidents. The aggressive dogs' owners were kind and apologetic and paid for the medical expenses. But Baeth said she now questions not filing a report.

"This is a difficult situation to understand and I don't know the right solution. I could not imagine having my dog taken away from me for any reason, and that is why I did not officially report these incidences," Baeth said. "I truly believe that this particular family would want to protect our animals and families from this happening in the future and possibly believed that they had taken care of the problem."

Kwoh, however, knowing what happened with Baeth's dog, did file a report with Animal Services. He didn't want the dog euthanized, but he did want it to be trained, he said.

The owners did not return a request for comment from this newspaper on what further precautions they plan to take. They received a citation for having loose dogs, said Cody Macartney, Palo Alto animal-control supervisor. He also sent them a "dangerous dog" warning letter. The letter serves as a notice that any future aggressive incidents deemed "unprovoked" (meaning the person was not trespassing or did not strike the dogs) will constitute an automatic dangerous-dog designation and the dog will be subject to a hearing.

Under state law, a potentially dangerous dog is one who, on two separate occasions within the prior 36-month period, has caused a person to be defensive to avoid injury when the person and their pet are off the property of the owner or keeper of the aggressive dog.

An independent hearing officer decides an animal's fate. It might be banned from the city (and thus would become another community's problem) or euthanized, Macartney said.

Palo Alto Animal Services receives between 20 to 40 animal-bite reports annually involving dogs and cats from the three cities it serves and about 15 to 20 reports of animal aggression, he added.

In most cases, a pet's aggression is not a criminal matter unless a person is seriously injured or killed or the owner knew the animal was dangerous but negligently allowed it to be in contact with persons visiting the home.

But civil liability is a different matter. California has "strict liability" laws; pet owners are responsible for nearly all injuries, except in cases in which the victim is a trespasser, provokes the dog or is a veterinarian treating the animal. And the costs can be considerable.

Pets are considered personal property in California. In a May 2011 California Court of Appeal decision, Kimes vs. Grosser, the court held that an owner can recover the costs of treatment and care for a pet that's been harmed if the costs are reasonable and necessary. The court also held that punitive damages were recoverable when the injury was willful or caused by gross negligence.

The plaintiff in that case sought to recover $6,000 for emergency surgery and $30,000 for care after his cat was attacked.

Macartney said that although the responsibility for preventing dog attacks falls mainly on the dog's owner, everyone should remain vigilant and always keep a dog on a leash.

Citronella-based spray can scare off dogs when they attack, but pepper spray and mace don't work, he said.

The best thing to do if attacked is to fight back: yelling loud in a deep voice; poking the dog's eyes; hitting the nose, the rear or any sensitive area; or pulling up the dog's back legs and doing anything to disrupt the dog's focus.

But "never run -- and always keep your eyes on the dog," he said.

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2015 at 8:35 am

Please report all aggressive dogs to Palo Alto Animal Services. The next child attacked by the dog could be your own.


15 people like this
Posted by Dog Owner
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2015 at 9:16 am

I know these two labradoodles personally. The smaller one is geriatric and simply uninterested in other dogs. It has never attacked any dog during the time period that this article covers and is not aggressive. Off- or on-leash, it simply doesn't care about other dogs. However, the use unfiltered quotes to deliver the story in the first half of the article gives the impression that these two dogs constitute a gang that actively seeks out other dogs to harass, which is simply false.

As for the other dog, the owners took the past incidents very seriously, including hiring a specialist dog trainer and switching to a special collar whenever outside. They were very distraught after the most recent incident and have taken further measures and precautions. While the writer may not have known this, it is unfortunate the article related the events in such a colorful manner so as to vilify both dogs.


13 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2015 at 9:18 am

It is not OK to have a vicious, biting dog in public!
We have the right to walk about in public without fear of an attack by these terrible animals owned by irresponsible, uncaring people.
This story really rings a bell with me from a long time ago, when a family member was attacked and bitten in another state in our neighborhood by what was described to me as a child as a "police dog" breed (not sure what you would call that nowadays, but it was a large, muscled, vicious animal)My family member was a tall man. He was walking our lovely dog, who was well trained. I don't remember our dog being severely injured, though it was a docile breed.
Like the stories here, the owners of the vicious dog were worried we would sue and so apologized after the attack.
My relative had a recovery period but did not sue, but should have in retrospect. I shudder to think if I (small child at the time) had been the one out walking our dog....
It may not be too late: the victims listed in this news story should file reports and consider suing the negligent owners of these biting dogs.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2015 at 9:27 am

I grew up with dogs. We would take our dogs offleash, meet other dogs, take them to parks to throw balls, sticks. I never heard of any dog causing any problems.

What has happened to change this? Is it the highly bred dogs? Is it the mixed breed designer dogs? Is it the fact that dogs are not getting enough exercise, or enough training (or the owners not getting enough training)?

This isn't meant to be a nostalgic look back but a serious question about why aggressive dogs seem to be more abundant than they used to be.


12 people like this
Posted by Mother and dog owner
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 31, 2015 at 10:36 am

These dog owners had a chance to speak @DOGOWNER
"The owners did not return a request for comment from this newspaper on what further precautions they plan to take."
Were you hired as their rep?! That's says enough for me.


42 people like this
Posted by confused
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2015 at 10:53 am

If the owners are concerned, why haven't they installed a taller fence? Or just kept the dog indoors? This story makes no sense given the liability issues.


15 people like this
Posted by Former dog owner
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2015 at 10:58 am

I think it's great that the owners are taking this seriously and hiring a trainer, but what about installing a higher fence so the dog can't escape? And they make collars that give electric shocks when a dog passes an invisible boundary (that is linked to the shock collar). I had an aggressive dog (never bit anyone but we never let her off leash outside the yard), and was told that prong collars can make them more aggressive because they may mistakenly think that the pain is caused by the other dog.


21 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2015 at 11:33 am

My 91 year old father was walking his docile Dog in his senior facility a few months back and the neighbors small highly strung dog ran out and attacked both my dad and his dog viciously. Neighbors witnessed this and pulled the monster off.

My dad's dog was okay but my dad's hand was badly bitten and the skin torn off between his thumb and index finger. Being that he's 91 his skin is more frail. The woman did nothing except laugh...and my dad ended up with bandages for months and antibiotics (his skin was too thin to put stitches). After MONTHS of antibiotics he then came down with the dreaded stomach CDIFF....which has taken more months and very strong antibiotics (including hospitalization) to combat this.

I"m sorry. I love dogs but if they can't be controlled (or should I say, the owners aren't controlled) they shouldn't be there. I don't advocate euthanasia but I do think there should be some real penalties for owners that don't care enough to watch their dogs more closely. The facility my dad lives in said they couldn't do anything because nobody else had reported the dog as a problem (although many knew of the issue).

What will it take for people to step forward and say "hey that dog is gonna hurt someone soon".


13 people like this
Posted by Howard Hoffman
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2015 at 11:49 am

In response to some of the questions raised, as an owner of two labradoodles, ages 7 and 5, and as someone who has met a lot of labradoodles, I can assure that the problem is not with the breed. With any breed, even the most typically friendly and calm breeds, an individual dog can have issues due to genetics or random factors or to upbringing. Most labradoodles are very friendly, but if one was not properly socialized from an early age, then it can develop unsocial behavior. Even if it is properly socialized, just like there are individual people who develop bad behavior, a dog can turn out to have bad behavior. In any case, it is the responsibility of all dog owners to make sure that they do the best they can with each dog they own and make sure that they are not hazardous. In this case, the owners need to do all they can, including considering the possibility of putting the dog in a home where it cannot terrorize people or pets. They also need to consider putting the dog down. As the founder of Palo Alto Dog Owners, we support responsible dog ownership. Hiring a dog behaviorist may be adequate, but it may take ongoing professional training from such a professional. It is never OK for a dog to get loose and attack people or pets. The City of PA is working on more and better dog parks. Even people who do not like dogs or are afraid of dogs should support these efforts. The more socialized our dogs are, the less chance for incidents like those described in the article.


18 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Howard Hoffman - dog parks are great, but not a solution to poorly trained poorly behaved dogs and poorly trained poorly behaved dog owners. Take this same owner and labradoodle from the article, and put them in a dog park, and you are going to end up with disaster.


5 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Resident - there are more people than there used to be and many of them are dog owners. Leash laws are more common and dogs aren't allowed in many hiking/walking areas, compared to the past. People also report more incidents, contrary to those interviewed in this story. The news also knows what gets clicks and dog stories get clicks galore! It's unfortunately common that it takes a number of incidents before a dog is effectively controlled.

In the Labradoodle case, the owners sound negligent because the easiest prevention is keeping the dogs indoors.

Howard, no one said it's a breed problem.


4 people like this
Posted by Eileen Wright
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm

The bichon fris obviously angered the labradoodle, which settled the score. All dogs are gentle until they are provoked. You may not be aware you are provoking, so give all dogs their space. In many cases apologies are due the dog owner.


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous Dog Lover
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:06 pm

It's disturbing how sensational articles have become these days to garner attention. They not only undermine the true problem but villainize people that are clearly just concerned pet owners. Nothing in this article suggests a view point or research into the owner perspective. Clearly a few folks in the comments know the owners and can provide a fair picture for readers, but it's the journalists job to make sure they cover both sides.

As a dog owner, I too am concerned about my pet's safety, but believe the onus is on both owners to protect their dogs. Both owners in the story clearly care about their pets and one side may need to take more action to avoid recurring incidents. So perhaps instead of villainizing one and creating drama out of nothing, perhaps there is action that can be taken on the city level or at the level of local dog organizations to help dogs that may have issues caused by early trauma. More socialization is always better and this calls for action against instead of in advocation.


35 people like this
Posted by Used to love and own dogs
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Resident asked why we're having more dog attacks than a generation ago:

It isn't the dogs, it's the owners.

American dog culture now treats dogs like super-precious children. People don't expect their dogs to act like subjugated animals, but that's what dogs should be. Flexi-Leashes let dogs know they are far beyond the control of their walker, and the dogs aren't taught to be respectful of other humans.

The humans aren't respectful of the other humans, either. Why in the world would you think _I_ have a problem if your dog assaults my genitals with its nose and I complain? It may be natural dog behavior, but it isn't accepted human behavior.

Dogs are supposed to be domesticated to serve us, not for us to serve them. They should be regarded as employees, not family members. I don't care how important your dog is to you, it does not have human rights superior to the right of my young child to walk the street without fear of assault. My sweet girl is terrified of small dogs because she has been assaulted so often -- one dog even chased her into our minivan -- got into the vehicle in pursuit of her! I wish it was easier to identify and report dogs and owners who are overly "friendly" and clueless that scaring a child is a form of trauma and there is no reason dogs should be allowed to be offensive in ways that are illegal in people. Imagine that you had a child who screamed aggressively at every passing person, running at them and leaping repeatedly. Would that be acceptable? Why do dog owners think it's ok for their dogs to act like that?

People feel so free to be critical of children's behavior but we aren't allowed to be critical of dog behavior?


21 people like this
Posted by Gregory
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:17 pm

This is another reason why dogs should not be off leash at parks. I have seen this happen before and the amount of unleashed dogs visiting the parks now is unbelievable. I have seen 2 dogs fight with each other at Johnson Park and end up pushing down a small child and biting each other while on top of her. I'm tired of all the dog owners thinking that it is ok to do what they want and not abide by the leash law here in Palo Alto.


32 people like this
Posted by Retired Veterinarian
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Sometimes dogs can have mental issues: abuse as a puppy, previous attack by other dogs when young, oxygen deprivation before, during or immediately after birth, pressure from the brain growing faster than the skull, pressure from an unknown hematoma or tumor. All of these can turn a docile dog vicious.

The dog in question should have a thorough exam by his vet. If he has not already been, he should be neutered.

Worst case scenario, if the dog should injure a child or another dog, he should be put down for the sake of community safety.


14 people like this
Posted by Mimi Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

"All dogs are gentle until they are provoked.", not true! Dog owners are irresponsible when they do not work with their puppy to train them proper behavior. Many folks are clueless about disciplining and working with dogs. Sadly, the aggressive dog in this story will probably eventually need to be put down because the owner did not put the time and energy into properly training the dog. Last week I was walking down the street with my docile cocker spaniel when a dog from across the street escaped and attacked my dog. Fortunately I was the only one that was injured with minor scratches to my hand. Absolutely, my dog did not provoke the other dog.


11 people like this
Posted by Its gotten weird
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I agree with
It isn't the dogs, it's the owners. American dog culture now treats dogs like super-precious children.
Things have changed. People always loved their dogs but recently they are treated like children. Owners refer to them as boys and girls, and one woman referred to her dog as "my baby."
Cat lovers write about their "kittycat."
People put their identifying photos with their pets on the web.
Something really weird going on.


11 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Anonymous - the owners of the attacking dog refused to comment on the story. they had the chance, but they refused.


22 people like this
Posted by Tiredofdogsrunningunleashed
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 31, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Finally, folks are beginning to take some steps to hold dog owners responsible for their dogs. It seems pretty much any park in Palo Alto has turned into a dog park. There are big dogs running loose at Cubberley where kids play softball, soccer, Ramos, Seale, Mitchell and Cowper and that too right ourside the dog runs. Folks with unleashed dogs are bullies. All it takes is one ' friendly' pounce on an unsuspecting child riding his bike to instill a life long fear of dogs in him. I have complained numerous times to animal control but gave up since nothing seems to change. I take my kids now only after confirming that there are no unleashed dogs. Recently before school let out for the summer break, an unleashed dog attacked the director of the Palo Verde kids club when he asked them to leash their dog because kids in the afterschool program were playing. It's a shame that dog owners do not take personal responsibilty for the unleashed dog menace.


17 people like this
Posted by Fully Prepared
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2015 at 3:25 pm

For the last 2 years I have been walking my dog with a tazer due to some close calls. I feel it's the best defense to an attacking dog, better than the club/stick I used to walk with. People should be prepared, not afraid, to defend themselves and their dog because it happens a lot!

Keep your dogs in check, because if one comes at me or my dog in an aggressive manner, I will protect us both with all the ruthless efficiency that is allowed to me under the law. I'll have no mercy of ill feelings towards promptly dispatching the attacking animal. The vet bills would belong the attacking dog's owner, if they can afford them.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2015 at 7:06 pm

@Howard Hoffman: "They also need to consider putting the dog down." Outrageous to say this: you don't know the dogs, or the situation other than by taking on faith what some people are saying. Who do you think you are, top dog cop? This doesn't help your cause. And no, I'm not at all interested in responding to however you want to justify your inflammatory comments.

The article is just an announcement of some people's gripes, the way some news articles just restate a company's press release. The article says it's about how dog owners can be liable, but then it focuses entirely on just this one situation, obviously served up by the complaining neighbors. A sad situation for everyone on that block who have to live together, purportedly as neighbors.


13 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Disgusted - why is it inflammatory to suggest putting down a vicious dog? It is the responsible course if you have gotten ourself into a situation you can't handle. That seems to be the case here.


13 people like this
Posted by cheeseguy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2015 at 9:07 am

I agree with the post above about dogs in parks. The bottom line is that every park in Palo Alto has become an off leash dog park. Good luck using any park for jogging. I have repeatedly been chased, nipped at, and nearly knocked off my feet by a large golden retriever that literally jumped on me in a local park. About 60% of the off leash dog owners ignore you if you kindly request them to follow the laws and put off leash dogs on a leash. A small percentage will actually yell at your and go on the offensive. Given that there is little or no sense of personal responsibility (or shame) among these dog owners, perhaps a bit of well publicized police enforcement in local parks would be nice.


Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Why would dog owners bring their dogs to a park and keep them leashed? The whole point of taking them to a park or playing field is to allow them to run and socialize. They can be on leash on the sidewalk or anywhere else. There are many options for joggers, but none for dogs, Joggers need to be considerate and if they are chased by dogs in a public park, they could jog to another park, run on the sidewalk, the Stanford Dish, Stanford, etc. I keep seeing joggers who insist on jogging right where there are dogs running off leash, then when a dog is chasing them they complain, often yell at the dog owners. Recently I saw a jogger who happens to live on my block nearly became violent against a dog owner, after the dog chased after him(without biting the jogger, the dog was just being playful). He yelled that there was an ordinance prohibiting off leash dogs in the park. The funny thing is that this particular jogger employs gardeners who use gas leaf blowers, also prohibited by a city ordinance. People follow the rules they like and often ignore those they don't. Dog owners don't have many options in Palo Alto, so this is where we are, and this issue isn't going to be solved anytime soon.


1 person likes this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2015 at 11:39 am

I grew up with 3 Saint Bernards (a mother and two daughters) whom I adored and they were saints. But aggressive dogs have no business being where they can attack other animals or people. Would people say that someone with clear mental illness should be allowed to roam the streets because they are being conditioned by their illness and therefore acting on impulse?
I think most people would say no.
A dog who attacks without attack from othres is not fit to live amongst people or other animals. So, the owners must get rid of the dog in whatever form is legal. I don't know what excuses these owners have.Having a dog trainer's input is not enough.Some dogs, like people, have hard wired mental conditions and no amount of training, medication or therapy will make them fit to live amongst others.

I agree with "used to love and owned dogs".
Your dog is not a person. It evolves minimally throughout its years and with some exceptions is totally parasitistic all its life. Let us not be asked to behave as if they are someone's children. They are not.


6 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@mauricio - not sure if serious. But I call police when confronted by unleashed dogs. PAPD is supportive of upholding leash laws in parks and schools, so just call the main line, not 911. (650) 329-2406


12 people like this
Posted by cheeseguy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2015 at 1:23 pm

I fear that Mauricio is serious (though the be being "considerate when chased by dogs" is sublime in its total lack of insight). The parks are for everyone and we (yes we, modern society who created these laws that all are expected to observe, what a novel idea?) created these laws to protect both people and other dogs (I have seen plenty of dog owners have their dogs accosted in parks by unleashed dogs and this is clearly against their desire). The parks are for everyone (joggers, children, older adults, people playing sports) to enjoy without being harassed (or even having to deal with) by unleashed dogs. These are laws (not "rules") and the slippery slope of ignoring laws we "don't like" might as well extend to people who don't like laws against drunk driving (and thus justify driving drunk). If you don't like the laws then change them (or go to a dog park that matter), but as long as they are the law don't be personally offended when others kindly request you to behave in a civilized and honorable manner.


Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Slow Down, do you call the police when a gardener is using a gas leaf blower? Do you call the police when cars run red light and blow past stop signs, text while driving, all daily and frequent occurances in Palo Alto, and much more dangerous than off leash dogs? Since you don't, why would you single out off leash dogs? I have personally witnessed people I know go berserk when they see an off leash dog in the park, far away from anyone else. The same people let their gardeners violate city laws and damage their neighbors health, drive dangerously in complete disregard for the lives of others, basically being narcissists. That's what i meant when I wrote that people obey laws they like and disobey laws they don't. Unless you obey every law, ordinance and regulation, each and every time, with no exception, calling the police on unleashed dogs is hypocritical.


8 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Aggressive off-leash dogs are a public safety hazard, just as are cars blowing through red lights. I call the police to report both. Comparing serious safety hazards to leaf blowers is stupid.


7 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

@mauricio:

"Unless you obey every law, ordinance and regulation, each and every time, with no exception, calling the police on unleashed dogs is hypocritical."

More naivete. This is not how the world works.

Here we go *again*. If only people who reported every single violation to the police, then nothing would ever get reported at all. The person who phones the police about a leash law violation is doing their neighbors a favor. How many times have you seen video or read stories where only one person reacts positively while the rest just stand around watching.

Some gardener may be illegally using a gas-powered leaf blower before the permitted hours. One person calls it in to the police who has a word with the gardener. All residents within earshot benefit from the noise ordinance action.

The cops are always saying that they need more eyes and ears. If you see something wrong or suspicious, they want you to call it in. The cops can't be everywhere all the time.

Enough of your self-servicing, narrow-minded, mean-spirited, unneighborly nonsense.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 1, 2015 at 3:02 pm

@mauricio:

Oh, yes, a public park is a piece of public property whose usage is determined by the government, for the benefit of the general public. If it is determined that dogs must be leased (typically for public safety issues for the park users), the government puts a sign up and determines the fine for a violation.

Dogs are not entitled to roam freely on public property, just as you are not allowed to drive 100mph in front of a school.

The laws are there to promote order and maintain public safety.

If you don't like a particular law, get the government to change it. If enough people are in favor of the change, it can happen.

We did with same-sex marriage.


Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm

@mauricio, gas-powered leaf blowers ARE legal in Palo Alto, in non-residential zones, but only M-F 8 am to 6 pm, and Saturday 10 am – 4 pm.


11 people like this
Posted by Critical Thinker
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 1, 2015 at 4:51 pm

I'm so glad to see others here in Palo Alto finally speaking up about off-leash dogs in our parks and school grounds. I used to think I was the only one willing to say anything to the owners or call the police.

@Parent: Just to add to what you said about the purpose of the leash laws. Palo Alto's leash law was enacted by referendum in the 50's. It was not put in place by the city council, but by the people of Palo Alto. Because of that, the only way it can be changed is by another vote of the people, and that isn't likely to happen, because the majority of voters in Palo Alto support the leash law.

One thing I would like to see changed is the fine for having your off-leash dog on public property. It is currently $100. It should be raised to $1000 for repeat offenders for the simple reason that, IMHO, the majority of the off-leash dogs in our parks are there every day and their owners are not ignorant of the law.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@maury - The reason I single out off leash dogs is that they are dangerous. Gas leaf blowers are merely annoying. If the city cared about really getting rid off leaf blowers, and fining homeowners for their use, I'd be all for it.


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2015 at 6:19 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Gas blowers are not merely annoying. Gas blowers are highly polluting and lift cancer causing particulates into the air and into our lings and blood stream. They are far more dangerous and deadly than dogs. When was the last time a dog caused cancer or severe respiratory problems in Palo Alto?


9 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 2, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@mauricio - In 2014, 42 dog attacks resulted in human death: 19 child victims, 1 young teen victim and 22 adults. For very death, there are thousands of bites, sometimes causing severe injury, especially in children.

If you want to go find a link between leaf blowers and cancer, go do it, we'd all be better off without them. But Not sure anyone really would believe you now.


3 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

@slow down, the link between cancer and other diseases and gas leaf blower already exists, no need to believe me, just do some basic research. Leaf blower cause many more deaths, sickness and misery in the US and anywhere else they are used than dog bites.

Over the last 20 years, there have been several attacks by humans against other humans in downtown Palo Alto, at least three, probably more, resulting in death. I'm sure there is some law against that. Should we now ban all humans from going to downtown PA because of some criminal activity by other humans?

Humans and dogs have been inseparable for the last 20,000 years or more. That isn't going to change. Since dogs need to run and socialize, and Palo Alto doesn't provide space for it, residents will continue, as they always have, despite the ordinance, to bring their dogs to parks and playing fields, and take them off leash, regardless of what you or others do or say(some of those humans even serve on the city council).

You are barking up the wrong tree. Spend you energy on reducing red light and stop sign running, texting while driving, driving while speaking on cell phones, driving 50 mph in a school zone, outlawing once and for all polluting, poisonous gas blowers, etc. This is where the real danger to other humans is.


9 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2015 at 5:42 pm

No, dogs are not going to change. We haven't banned them from parks we merely want them leashed.
And we don't allow people to poo on the street why should pets be allowed?

Human beings are capable of discerning and sentient reasoning and controlling one's impulses is the bill for having free will. Also most humans are capable of evolving during their lifetime, not merely being a parasit, which is what pets are. If you want to have one be my guest. They are neither indispensable nor do they provide significant services. But if you need one go ahead, have them, they are forever dependent on you, not questioning you at all (this feature seems to be part of the attraction of pets).

It's just that inflicting your potentially dangerous choice on others is wrong.


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Your knowledge of dogs is so spectacularly and shockingly poor, or rather non existent, I wouldn't even know where to begin to address your ignorance, so i won't.


10 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

If you want to lie down with the dogs, I won't stop you. However, one of the rights I have in this country is to speak up. It's all right for me to be ignorant. I bow my head humbly in the face of such greatness and information you possess (so you say), but I will still demand that dogs be leashed so that I can walk unbothered, not be beaten, jumped on and have a picnic on grass that is not dirty by dog feces or urine. And no amount of abuse on your part will stop me from having an opinion and trying to make it count.


15 people like this
Posted by Dogs are not people
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2015 at 10:10 pm

I love dogs, though I haven't owned one in 20'years. Things have changed quite a bit. Too many dog owners have no idea how to control their dogs whether they are on the leash or not. You may let your dog sleep with you, lick your face, and eat off your plates, but many others do not want dogs running up to them, jumping on them, or worse. Follow the leash laws in Palo Alto and always be in absolute physical and verbal control of your dog. It's the opposite of the entitlement mindset.


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Posted by dog lover
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:48 am

seems that everyone in Palo Alto seems to think that it is perfectly fine to have dogs that bark constantly when the owners are gone. obviously, the owner doesn't hear them bark and think that their little "baby" is an angel when they arrive home to a wagging tail. meanwhile the little monster has barked at everything that has moved past his window during the day--children, mailmen, walkers, cars, leaves, etc. you think gas blowers are a pain--so, are barking dogs who bark constantly. stress levels from both!! where has it become a right to have constant noise makers--it is like the gas blowers --the neighbor's blows his leaves and debris onto my property. my gas blower blows it back on to my neigbhor's property. who wins? what purpose has been served? both barking dogs and gas blowers are nothing but a nuisance and pain to be around. But, just think, pretty soon we are going to have the dreaded drones to deal with. there is another issue that is going to come up sooner rather than later in Palo Alto. as you know, everyone here can afford to have their own and would like nothing better than provide another nuisance for the neighbors. it's sad, but these drones are going to become a real problem and danger issue--not just for Palo Alto, but for everyone


4 people like this
Posted by palo alto dog owner
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm

It is frustrating for folks who walk their dogs on leash, to get exercise and enjoy a walk with folks that allow their dogs to walk off leash for their own selfish reasons. It is definitely not for the dog. I have had so many dogs cross the street in oncoming traffic or charge us and their owners do not have control over their dogs because oh yeah, they are actually animals! There is no reason to walk your dog on a busy street, while other big dogs are walking ON LEASH and are threatened by the dogs who are off leash. Please do not walk your dogs off leash in our downtown neighborhoods - it is not fair to us who abide by the law. Take your dog off leash to the park or somewhere safe. Thanks.


4 people like this
Posted by A well Controlled Dog Owner
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 4, 2015 at 1:00 am

I will immediately sue the owner(s) of the dog(s) that bit me or my family members. Either learn how to train and restrain your dog(s) properly or face lawsuit. End of story!


3 people like this
Posted by Control your temper, signed your Mom
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2015 at 7:36 am

Dogs are animals, as are humans frankly, and both will attack when tempers flare. I see more responsible pet owners now than when I was younger. There were 2 sometimes vicious dogs in my home neighborhood, and the police were never called. We learned to stay away, and the owners did what they could to keep their pets restrained. Pets were getting loose all over town on a daily basis back then. Few people even had fences. Dogs and kids came home for dinner time. It's a different world now, and PA is a city, not the country.

Offer your support, suggestions and compassion for the injured and the pet owners, and stop the vitrol on internet chat boards that does nothing but incite more anger.


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 4, 2015 at 11:45 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:32 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Labradoodles have now been around long enough for there to be some problems showing up. It's interesting and unfortunate that the first attack wasn't reported.


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Posted by Protect your dog
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2015 at 11:55 am

ALWAYS walk with one of these. The sound alone will likely make any dog turn tail and run, but if they don't the voltage will ensure they do nothing more than twitch and maybe foam a bit at the mouth.

If the dog is off leash, you're in the clear legally. Don't be afraid to protect yourself. It is your legal right to do so, in this state anyway.
Here's one example, there are a lot more like it, some less than 10 bucks!
Web Link


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm

All dogs bite. What varies are (1) how easily it is provoked and (2) how effective it is at causing harm. I'm not sure "well-trained" is a direct control of either of these. Although emotionally rehabbing an abused dog and always maintaining a position of superiority in the pack are jobs for the people, beating on a dog or otherwise escalating aggressive energy is not helpful.


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Posted by I have two dogs, and I support leash laws.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I have two medium sized dogs that I always walk on leash. On numerous occasions my kids and my dogs have been attacked by off-leash dogs on the sidewalk, at Cubberley, at Mitchell Park (where dogs should be in the on-site dog run rather loose than in the main park).

Most dog owners do not have the skill to train and manage an off-leash dog in a public space. The problem is the owners. They don't have a clue what they are doing.

The other day, a lab ran at one of my on-leash dogs. The owner yelled from across the park (where she'd been pecking at her cell phone instead of paying attention to her loose dog), "Don't worry! He's friendly!" My dog went on the defense. Not every other dog is friendly. An off-leash dog racing toward an on-leash dog is highly likely to get a scared response. A fight is highly likely. I don't care how "friendly" you think your dog is, a dog racing toward a child or another dog is scary and a potentially dangerous situation, and YOU are liable for any damages. If you don't have PERFECT voice control and you are not PERFECTLY attentive, your dog can be a problem. It may also be your dog that gets hurt if he tangles with the wrong dog.

When my daughter was three years old, a large dog ran at her full speed from across Mitchell Park into the preschool playground area. The owner was yelling at the dog to stop and to come, but the dog continued to charge. I snatched my daughter up and turned my back to the dog to protect my daughter. It was a terrifying experience for both of us. It took ages to get my daughter comfortable around dogs again. What kind of idiot allows a dog off-leash near a preschool area?

One of my dogs (a very well-trained sweet submissive female) was attacked at two different times by off-leash dogs--once at Cubberley and once at Mitchell Park. In both cases, I was walking through a public open space with my two dogs on-leash and the other owners were socializing instead of paying attention. In both instances, I had to release my own dog who obediently stayed while I grabbed the collar of the attacking dog and pulled it off her. The attacking dog drew blood in one of those instances.

I'm all for the leash laws...and I'd like to see them enforced. A lot of dog owners have no idea how to manage a dog well. As a result, their "sweet babies" are a menace.



2 people like this
Posted by All in all
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm


A solution that works for (almost) everyone would be for the city to have a reasonable-sized, grassy, fenced off-leash dog use areas in EVERY park in Palo Alto. That way, all dogs and their families have access to a contained dog area where their pooches can run free, no one has an excuse to unleash their dogs in parks or school playgrounds and undesirable, potentially unpleasant dog-human encounters can be brought to a minimum.
It is in the interest of all i Palo Alto - the dog non-owners, the dog-scared, the dog-dislikers, not to mention the dog-owners to get behind this idea.
Folks will still require to be responsible dog owners which means to having control on your beast, picking up after your pooch and obeying leash laws.


2 people like this
Posted by Emily Lopez
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Actually the pet owner should give their pets some training that will socialize the pets . where these type of behavior can be avoided from pets.Pets will be more friendly and polite to others. Web Link


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Posted by No One is Perfect
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2015 at 1:05 am

Many years ago we had a beautiful, wonderful, well trained German Shepherd who was so submissive with other dogs it was actually a little embarrassing at times. We deliberately chose the calmest, sweetest dog in the litter so we were happy to have such a sweet dog. She was well socialized with other dogs and we also had a Golden Retriever who was super sweet.

Then one day, when the Shepherd was about 5 years old, I was letting both dogs out of the car in our driveway after a long visit to an open space preserve that allowed off-leash dogs, and they spotted a small dog walking on a leash across the street and went after it! The Shepherd chased this poor little dog for 4-5 blocks and bit it once during the chase. I finally managed to corral both of my dogs (the Golden had joined in the chase for a block or so) and seek out the little dog and his owner. They were parents house-sitting for a neighbor. I immediately gave them our vet's info and told them to charge all of their dog's medical to our account. I apologized profusely and tried to explain that my dogs had never done anything like that, were well-trained and socialized, and I just couldn't explain why they behaved that way that day. I don't think they believed me, but the entire event ended with me paying their vet bills and their dog being OK (albeit more scared of big dogs, probably).

Needless to say, I was very careful with my dogs after that, and we never experienced another incident. I'll never know what the chemistry was that day between my dogs and that little dog, but it was just weird.

Lesson: Dogs are only partly domesticated, no matter their training, socialization, and personality. As dog owners, we can be surprised by the behavior of our trusted pets.

Please do not vilify all dog owners as irresponsible unless they have had more than one incident with their dog(s). It's been 20 years since that fateful day with my Shepherd, and I still remember it like yesterday, even though everyone turned out OK in the end.


3 people like this
Posted by Walk with a stun gun
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2015 at 6:49 am

PLEASE dog owners! NEVER go on a walk without a stun gun. They are very inexpensive(under 20.00 for some)and offer the best legal protection against a dog. If you search Amazon for stun guns you will be amazed at the variety.
I like the flashlight/stun combo. The good part is that usually just the sight and sound of 38,000,000 volts flashing and zapping is usually enough to turn most dogs around in a split second. If they choose to not back down, rest assured they won't be trouble to anyone once all that electricity finds a home in the attacking pest. They've always run away VERY quickly after they regained muscle control.

With the off leash dogs now all over our public parks, a stun gun is as essential as the bag to pick up the poop. Never walk your dog without one. If the other dog is off leash, you're fully protected from the law as long as you felt threatened by the off leash dog.


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