Guest Opinion: Why leash laws? There are plenty of good reasons | September 15, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


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Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 15, 2017

Guest Opinion: Why leash laws? There are plenty of good reasons

by Sophia Christel

As a lifelong South Bay resident and outdoor enthusiast, I treasure our community's public open spaces. One of my favorite spots is Lake Lagunita, a conservation area on the western side of the Stanford University campus. As a Stanford student, I'd go there to watch birds, run and engage in citizen science. I even worked there for a summer with the university's Conservation Program.

The lake changes drastically with the seasons and years, but one thing is consistent: dog-walkers ignoring the leash law. Illegally unleashed canines are a growing problem in our open spaces, and it's time to bring it to heel.

The laws are no joke — Lake Lag's includes a $500 fine. But enforcement is so poor that dog owners are seldom deterred, if they're even aware of the laws at all. As a result, off-leash dogs increasingly threaten delicate ecosystems and can be a nuisance or a danger to those who visit natural spaces for other forms of recreation.

Like many of the Bay Area's wild spaces, the Lake Lag Conservation Area supports an abundance of species, including endangered California tiger salamanders and San Francisco garter snakes. Dogs pose real risks to such wildlife; even if your dog is not a chaser, studies have shown that his mere presence elevates stress in animals nearby. Stressed-out animals don't breed, can fail to raise healthy young if they do, and may be more susceptible to predation from other, sneakier animals if they're distracted by your dog.

Additionally, domestic dogs' diets mean their feces carries E. coli, hookworms and other pathogens that make it more toxic than wild animals' waste. But common sense dictates that you're not going to chase your pooch into a thicket of poison oak, or a boggy patch of meadow, if she does her business while roaming free. So, the germs from Lassie's "present" will end up in our waterways, which is bad news for life in our streams and in the Bay.

Urban and suburban parks present their own set of arguments for strict leash-law observation. Fecal contamination is a human health risk, especially where families and kids go to play. Urine is highly acidic and kills grass, which means taxpayer dollars are spent re-greening park lawns. But more generally, letting dogs run where they please in popular recreation spots is disrespectful to people (and other dogs) who may be frightened by them or who simply want to enjoy the space undisturbed. You don't want your beloved pet scaring a little kid but neither do you want her distracting a service animal or bothering a dog who's kept on-leash because he doesn't play well with others.

I have faith that most dog owners are animal-loving, law-abiding, empathetic people and want to do the right thing. At Lake Lag, most offenders simply aren't aware of the law and leash up without complaint if asked. But while most are easygoing, I've encountered a discouraging number whose reactions ranged from self-righteously argumentative to downright hostile. When I worked for Stanford's Conservation Program, we were actually instructed to never approach dog owners alone because of aggressive responses directed toward employees in the past.

Though threatening reactions are far from universal, they are common enough to discourage people from reminding dog-walkers of the law, and this creates a vicious cycle that is quickly getting out of hand.

When a few people disregard a law, others notice, and unless law enforcement (or social pressure) intervenes, a precedent develops that the law doesn't matter. Letting your dog off the leash has become like jaywalking — sure, it's technically illegal, but it's so normalized that everyone does it anyway. It's no surprise, then, that dog owners are defensive when singled out for letting their pets off-leash. If I were scolded by a passerby for jaywalking, I'd be indignant, too. So aggressive responses increase, no one wants to speak up, and curbing the cycle gets even harder.

Increasing police or ranger patrols could help reverse the trend. But that takes resources from the prevention of more egregious crimes, and frankly, it feels cruel to slap a hefty fine on someone who just wanted Fido to get a little exercise and who probably was unaware of the leash law.

Therefore, I believe that we as a community can fix this without resorting to police presence. If you're a dog owner, your first step is to check and obey leash laws. Dog parks are great legal options for going sans leash if your dog is well-socialized. Second, encourage others to follow your lead in upholding the law — the pressure will be more effective coming from inside the dog-owning community. Third, don't limit your commitment to wild spaces, as many of our city parks and all our public school grounds require leashes.

Leash laws exist for good reasons. They protect the safety of humans and non-humans alike, and we all need to take responsibility to uphold them. If we do, we'll ensure that our outdoor spaces remain clean, friendly places, ripe for exploration and enjoyment by the whole family — dogs included.

Sophia Christel is a recent Stanford grad and a Palo Alto native who works for San Jose's Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services department. She can be reached at sophia.christel@gmail.com.

Comments

73 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:53 am

In addition to the damage to wildlife, off-leash dogs are a huge safety hazard to human children. We don't take our kids to parks that don't have a fenced off play area anymore because the dogs are so scary and the scofflaw owners really don't care.


20 people like this
Posted by Brit
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I also don't understand why the children's play areas in parks are not safely fenced. In the UK, all play areas have to be fenced with a security gate (easily opened by an adult, but not a toddler). Here the play areas are often close to the busy streets and toddlers can easily wander off while a parent is distracted with a younger/older child.

All this talk about dog parks, but our kiddie play areas are not safe. Would it be easier to put fences around the kiddie play areas?


54 people like this
Posted by Penny
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Thank you for this article. I agree with all points you have made. Many people are walking their dogs off the leash in the bay lands which is also a big problem for the wildlife there. I have often spoken to people at the Menlo Park bayfront park with their dogs off leash actually chasing the nesting birds. I have also written the people in the city that I thought were in charge but so far nobody has increased the patrol. I have found dogs off leash a problem in the park on Valparaiso hill in Menlo Park. Education can't help but enforcement is really needed with more than just a warning.


11 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2017 at 10:41 pm

"In addition to the damage to wildlife, off-leash dogs are a huge safety hazard to human children."

Dog owners (I'm not one) insist that toddlers schooled in the finer points of doggie etiquette--no petting, no crying, no running away, no sudden moves--are usually fairly safe when they encounter an off-leash dog. This training is the child's parents' responsibility.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

Humans and their dogs (which are also animals, who have an intrinsic need to be off leash) are also a part of the environment. You can't pick and choose which species/aspects of the "environment" are more important and ask legislation to prioritize one over the other... because the environment is all-encompassing.
Humans and dogs are equally important as nesting birdies, and by the sacred order of nature, are higher up in the food chain, so it bewilders me that you claim a moral imperative to defy that order.

In my opinion, leash laws should be abolished.


74 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

@Curmudgeon - are you asking non-dog-owning families to teach their toddlers not to be afraid if an off-leash dog that is larger than them charges at them? Get real. How is a parent supposed to teach something like that?

Much safer to aggressively enforce leash laws. If some dog owners cannot obey dog safety laws, the widen the restrictions on dogs and enforce the law more strictly. Too many scofflaws get away with their crimes right now. This is a public safety issue.


38 people like this
Posted by dogs should not be allowed at L.Lagunita
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 10:30 am

As a dog owner and daily walker of my dog in my neighborhood I know that dogs are on leash here. On one occasion over the last four years someone had their dog roaming while they worked in their garage and I asked in no uncertain terms to leash them because I did not want to be hurt or tripped if our dogs started to play. No push back.

I happen to know Lake Lagunita is different and I'm glad you brought it up. I used to walk there before I owned a dog, that is now at least five years ago. I love Lake Lagunita and it was a source of peace, but what drove me nuts were the off leash dogs!

My take away (now that I am a dog owner)

1. The people who let their dogs roam at Lake Lagunita go there for the precise purpose to let them do that.
2. These repeat offenders have "normalized" this at Lake Lagunita, they would never get away with it in the neighborhoods.
3. They must live near Stanford, or letting their dogs roam means so much to them, they schlepp over there to break the law

It costs to otherwise let your dog have a roaming experience. I and many of my neighbors pay for companies like Smilin Dogs to take them for a hike. Mine gets to go 2x/month.

Stanford needs to take a stand and put an end to the nonsense at Lake Lagunita with dog owners roaming there with their off leash dogs.

In the meantime,

CAMERAS?

It's a lot of trouble to take my dog all the way to Stanford, but I will do so soon ON LEASH and patrol. From one dog owner to another, try to educate and pass out a copy of your article.



70 people like this
Posted by Need leash laws
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2017 at 11:08 am

@Resident wrote: "You can't pick and choose which species/aspects of the "environment" are more important and ask legislation to prioritize one over the other"

Yes, you can. Dogs are domestic animals. Nesting birds are wild animals. That is a HUGE distinction! We have control over domestic animals, but have no control over nesting birds.

We should let dogs do whatever they want because they are part of the environment? Following that logic, we shouldn't clean up dog poop because we don't clean up bird poop. It is all part of the environment--you can't pick and choose what poop needs cleanup. Crazy.

Leash laws and poop laws are laws for very good reason. Their only problem is the lack of their enforcement.


4 people like this
Posted by Rod Steele
a resident of Portola Valley
on Sep 17, 2017 at 11:30 am

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

"We should let dogs do whatever they want because they are part of the environment? Following that logic, we shouldn't clean up dog poop because we don't clean up bird poop. It is all part of the environment--you can't pick and choose what poop needs cleanup. Crazy."

Then why don't equestrians pick up after their horses? Riders leave massive trails of horse poop in their wake and no one complains. People just love to whine, complain and preach about dogs because their lives are too peachy and they need to imagine some safety concern to complain about.

You people are suggesting cameras? More enforcement? That requires more taxes. More fines, fees, permit costs, imprisonment. Will that make you happy? Where does it end? People who let their dogs off leash are criminals? Really?
If a law is not enforced, and most people break it, then it shouldn't be a law.
If there aren't consistent incidents with dogs mauling children or doing any tangible harm (your ecosystem theories are intangible) then the costs of enforcement aren't justified and it shouldn't be a law.

[Portion removed.]


74 people like this
Posted by mattie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Here's a novel idea.... you follow the law because it's the law. If you think it should be changed, it's your right to try to make that happen within the democratic means available. In the meantime, obey the law.

Yes, the rules do apply to you.


27 people like this
Posted by mattie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm

PS - Without some change, it's only a matter of time before we, the taxpayers, are settling an expensive lawsuit because of the consistent non-compliance by residents and lax enforcement by authorities. Outside organizations pay the city for use of park space (think AYSO, among many others), and I personally can recount 5-6 instances when off leash dogs have disrupted organized activities. The lawsuit will come when there's an injury.


51 people like this
Posted by Maybell
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm

We dislike dogs and horses. They belong on farms but not in urban areas.
Their poop stinks and spreads disease. It is disgusting.
Please endorse the laws. Keep them away from me.
Ideally they should be removed from Palo Alto all together !


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm

"@Curmudgeon - are you asking non-dog-owning families to teach their toddlers not to be afraid if an off-leash dog that is larger than them charges at them? Get real. How is a parent supposed to teach something like that?"

Not me. I'm reporting what dog owners tell me.

Just acknowledge canine supremacy and all will be OK.

And please read what's actually in a post; don't read into it.


21 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Sophia Christel --
Thank you very, very much for your excellent and very well-written article I agree with almost everything you wrote, except:

1. The dog problem can be solved purely by more education, and
2. Feces from on-leash dogs are not a problem.

1. The biggest problem is that education alone will not and has not solved this problem, and that some people become aggressive and act in a threatening manner when confronted by anyone attempting to tell them that something they are doing is wrong and must stop. And there is no way to tell ahead of time who will become aggressive or threatening (barring the other person being obviously "under the influence"). And remember: a lot of people may be carrying guns of some sort, so it is simply not safe or wise to ever confront any strange about anything. Leave that risk and job to the police -- they are trained and have the authority and resources to deal effectively with possibly dangerous people.

2. It does not matter at all whether the feces / poop that get deposited in parks and wildlands come from on-leash or off-leash dogs. The bacteria and parasites are still there, and no one who "cleans up" their fog's poop can ever remove all of it. There is always some poop left on the ground. And too few people even bother to try to remove any of their dog's poop.

IMO, the real problem is that there are far, far too many dogs. And too many people act as though their dog(s) are far more important than people, even than little kids. And adults often have very good reasons to fear dogs.

Please remember: Dogs have only been domesticated for around 14,000 years, and, at the most, for around 35,000 years. That is far, far too short a time for domestication to have changed their instincts. Dogs are therefore basically barely-tamed wild animals, and people need to know and remember that when dealing with dogs in any way.

And no one can ever successfully force anyone to change their beliefs, but some human behaviors can and must be changed. That is why we have laws. To change behaviors.

The three "Es" are very important in this, as in many areas of life:
Education
Engineering
Enforcement

And problems with dogs are no exception to the three Es. Yes, there does need to be far more Education, and Engineering -- cameras? and certainly fencing off kiddie play areas -- will help, but it is clear that we need far more Enforcement if these problems with dogs are ever to be solved.

Thanks, again, Sophia, for your excellent and calm and very well-written article. And thank you to all the commenters who have posted thoughtful and practical comments.


38 people like this
Posted by A local
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Sheesh Curmudgeon,
You endorse and support hoards of off-leash dogs of all breeds, sizes and temperaments? And the associated dog poop everywhere and harassment of wildlife in a sensitive environment? Please, please explain why this is a good thing. In my mind it's the arrogant off-leashers who are acting like entitled elitests. Not folks like me who control their pets and pack out their waste.


22 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm

"If a law is not enforced, and most people break it, then it shouldn't be a law."

Great!

No more speed limits on Embarcadero road.

No more restrictions on who can use carpools.

No more jogging/walking in the streets instead of on the sidewalks.

No more tax laws.

No more drug use laws.

...


I bet we can come up with a whole lot of laws that "shouldn't be" under these standards.


18 people like this
Posted by More off leash areas please
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm

I wish there were more off-leash areas nearby. There are far too few for the Peninsula.

Dog owners want to follow the rules. A few more nearby places where dogs can hike off-leash would help drive dog owners to those areas and away from others.


40 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2017 at 3:37 pm

I am disabled and can't walk in natural areas, in public parks -- or even on the sidewalks in my own neighborhood -- because of off-leash dogs…even friendly dogs. I am easily knocked down, and in the past have been injured because of loose dogs running free.

So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leash your dogs.


46 people like this
Posted by Please leash
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Yes, please please leash your dogs. My toddler daughter was knocked down in a park by a dog trying to be friendly. She wasn't mauled, but it was a very frightening experience. Your dog may have an "intrinsic need to be off leash"
but my daughter has an "intrinsic need to not be traumatized".


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

"You endorse and support hoards [sic] of off-leash dogs of all breeds, sizes and temperaments?

Nope. I'm reporting what dog owners tell me when I confront them loosing their pet menaces to life and limb on society. Please read what's actually in a post; don't read into it.


"In my mind it's the arrogant off-leashers who are acting like entitled elitests [sic]."

Indeed.


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Another problem is retractable leashes. For most dog owners, they have become the equivalent of having their dogs be off-leash. Most of the dog owners I have encountered who use retractable leashes don't control the dog with the leash and use it to keep their dogs from running away or merely as a means to comply with the letter of the law but not the intent.


17 people like this
Posted by Maybell
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 5:30 pm

@Curmudgeon.
You have worst of the worst attitudes about this problem.
Why should I put up with your dog, or cat, or horse ?
Please stop letting your animals be around me and my family !


14 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

"Little Fifi is a nice dog and doesn't bite."

Typical last sentence before said un-tethered beast lunges out and mauls other nearby pets actually on leashes and/or their law abiding, plastic baggy carrying owners.

Since we have criminalized idling your car, using the wrong pronoun in elder care and soon the rest of the 1st, 2nd and 5th amendments, the least we can do is ticket these accidental attack dogs in waiting.

With Liberal Progressive government, citizens don't have freedom only permission.


10 people like this
Posted by dogs-love-to-run-free
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm

> Stressed-out animals don't breed, can fail to raise healthy young if they do,
> and may be more susceptible to predation from other, sneakier animals if
> they're distracted by your dog.

This is really hard to believe. All animals are food for some other animal in the food chain. As such, all animals are going to be under some "stress" most of their lives. While some dogs might chase birds, few do. The idea that the small number of dogs roaming free in this conservation area are going to create enough "stress" on a significant number of wild species goes a ways to explain why so many people reject the wild claims of "academics" making all sorts of claims without any data to back up their claims.

Dogs were wild before they were domesticated. Having more opportunities for them to run wild would be in their interests, as well as their owners' interests.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm

The real problem is that many people, including many dog owners, don't have an inkling of knowledge about how dogs interact and communicate with one another, and they make blanket assumptions about dogs and conjure up all sorts of safety hazards and ecosystem theories.

"un-tethered beast lunges out and mauls other nearby pets actually on leashes and/or their law abiding, plastic baggy carrying owners."

This is because of leash aggression. 90 percent of dogs that were socialized as puppies will get along just fine if they are allowed to greet each other off leash. It is the fear & insecurity projected by the humans that is the real problem.

Leashes also make dogs frustrated and full of pent-up energy. When a leashed dog is suddenly released or breaks free, there is an outburst of energy and the high arousal -- the effect of being "spring-loaded" -- which causes incidents. An off leash dog is a relaxed dog, and a better behaved dog.

I am a professional in this field which is why I am bothered by these academics trying to sabotage my business.


11 people like this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

I have met "professionals" in this field who are not altogether there.

From the pro who insisted on making my puppy sleep outside to the one who had this weird clicker which was unnecessary.

Sure some people are advised by "pros" to deliver their babies in the bathtub but so what I think hospitals are fine. My theory is that things depend on the breed and upbringing. Kind of like some people observe leash laws and others don't care.

I got lucky with the breed of my dog and did not believe everything I heard from the pros. We have a most perfect coexistence.

Best part is the look on his face when I pick up the leash. He sits, I leash him and off we go on a walk. We meet other leashed dogs along the way and NO DRAMA.

The stress at Lake Lagunita is surely not just on the dogs but the aggression from the owners who do not want to be bothered.

If it is known how aggressive the owners are, they should lose privileges just for that.

This is obviously about people not the dogs!


11 people like this
Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 17, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Everything that the author of this article complains about is true about *leashed* dogs as well as unleashed ones. Barely one thing she is concerned about would be ameliorated by having a dog on a leash. E Coli and hookworm in poop? Still there. Salamanders stressed by the "presence" of dogs? Still there. Other dogs afraid of them? Still afraid. It's kind of a disingenuous argument if it applies to any dogs, not just the leashed ones.

People not following the law? Many will drive a few miles an hour above the speed limit, cross the road not at intersections, put food soiled paper in the recycling bin, put compostable material in the garbage, put recycling in the trash, etc., etc. How many of these things should be enforced more vigorously? The compost in the trash one? Uncontrolled dogs should not be allowed off leashes, or off leashes around dogs whose owners want them leashed, or around people who don't want them unleashed, but if a tree falls in the forest does it really make a sound?


1 person likes this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2017 at 9:08 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

One amelioration from following any rule is that other rules will also be followed.

Less enforcement costs and as someone suggested, if you want to change the rules, get to work on it.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 11:13 pm

"@Curmudgeon.
You have worst of the worst attitudes about this problem.
Why should I put up with your dog, or cat, or horse ?
Please stop letting your animals be around me and my family !"

Yet another poster who doesn't read before they write. Read my posting, read my responses to your brethren/sistren on this thread, and direct your ire to the real target.


19 people like this
Posted by Pot-Kettle
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2017 at 12:36 am

The holier than thou attitude of commenters who are demanding all dog owners leash their dogs is disturbing and so overly righteous. I'm sure none of them have ever gone through a red light, exceeded the speed limit, rolled through a stop sign, have gardeners with a gas blower, parked with wheels on the sidewalk, or broken the law in any other way in their blessed lives.

Even the author hints that she has jaywalked.

Let he without sin cast the first stone.


10 people like this
Posted by A local
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2017 at 3:45 am

@Curmudgeon
Thanks for not answering my query and the unsolicited spelling lesson. It would be justice if someone with their large, untrained and aggressive dog off-leash stepped in a big, fresh pile, got a citatation and $500 fine, and then a severe case of poison oak from their own pet, clothing and vehicle. Also, I read and understand every post. Your petty lectures on semantics serve yourself, not this discussion.


12 people like this
Posted by A local
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2017 at 4:01 am

Please keep this discussion on point. We are concerned about a perceived problem of off-leash dogs. Speeding, jaywalking, stealing a pen from work are ridiculous comparisons to this. I'm still in the leashed dog camp as there are far too many dogs to deal with, not enough enclosed dog parks, pedestrians, cyclists, elderly and traffic for anyone to justify not leashing.


9 people like this
Posted by I read all the posts
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

I don't want any of you in our parks. No commenters in Palo Alto parks, esp around our childresn! The obvious reasons are above and likely to come below this post.


11 people like this
Posted by Please leash
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm

@Pot-Kettle says "I'm sure none of them have ever gone through a red light, exceeded the speed limit, rolled through a stop sign, have gardeners with a gas blower, parked with wheels on the sidewalk, or broken the law in any other way in their blessed lives. ... Let he without sin cast the first stone."

Just because some laws aren't followed, all laws can be ignored? That makes absolutely no sense.

People will twist logic with incredible audacity when they attempt to justify knowingly breaking rules.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Just because a dog is leashed it doesn't mean it can't cause problems.

Just this morning at about 9.45 I was driving Middlefield at Charleston. A dog with a leash dragging was running at full speed down the middle of Middlefield through the Charleston intersection. It was at times in the right lane of traffic and at other times in the wrong lane of traffic running between the cars that had stopped because of it. All traffic in all four directions had to stop because of the dog.

I never saw an owner looking distraught and I was hoping that the dog wouldn't cause any type of accident with car(s) or people.

In a case like this, the owner may have already been overpowered by the dog, had a medical emergency, been hit by a car, or who knows what. This dog had a leash, but he was also causing a problem. A leash does not necessarily solve all problems, but may solve some.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

"...enclosed dog parks..."

AKA backyards. Nix the NIMBY and problem solved.


"Your petty lectures on semantics serve yourself, not this discussion."

I'll own my own mistakes, not others' mistakes.

Petite lecture #5: Faulty semantics != good communication.


6 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2017 at 7:50 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by @Sanctimonious Poster
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 18, 2017 at 9:05 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2017 at 9:43 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2017 at 9:49 pm

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by DogLover
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 10:56 am

It is not the dogs' problems ... it is the owners.
Since life is so complex and busy in this era, people give short
shrift to civilized behavior in a way I never would have predicted
in the last century. I cannot believe the social norms or today and
particularly here in rich Si Valley where people have it so good, why
are most of them so mean and rude?

I'd go further ... a leash is not just a string around a huge dog's
neck ... you must be able to control all your dogs at all times. I see
90 pound women walking pitbulls almost as heavy as they are ...
what kind of safety is that? Or people walking two, three, four and
even five dogs.

I love dogs, but I don't know you or your dog and I have no idea
if you are competent to raise and control a dog enough that you are
not a danger to the community. There are very few lone persons walking
with one medium sized well-behaved and well-trained dog in this town
any more. There are some - and thank you for being good citizens, but
there are also plenty of people who have an attitude and give that to
their dogs.

A serious leash law that also contains some provision for an officer to
judge whether the owner really has safe control over their animal should
be the minimum here. Not a big problem in Palo Alto ... do we know how
many animal attack incidents we have here in a year? Does that get
reported on at all? But a serious dog mauling can be deadly or life
altering mentally and physically.


8 people like this
Posted by Pot-Kettle
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2017 at 11:34 am

@Please leash said "Just because some laws aren't followed, all laws can be ignored? That makes absolutely no sense.

People will twist logic with incredible audacity when they attempt to justify knowingly breaking rules. "

Yes that makes no sense but you entirely missed my point. I am not suggesting all laws should be ignored, but that people should not be preaching to others about breaking leash laws unless they are following other laws themselves. I actually believe all laws should be obeyed (or work to change them if the law does not make sense or is outdated).

I am a dog owner and my dog is leashed at all times except when in my back yard. Just rubs me the wrong way when people are very preachy about others following laws when most people are bending/breaking several laws themselves.


13 people like this
Posted by Compadre
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 12:04 pm

@Curmudgeon : "Dog owners (I'm not one) insist that toddlers schooled in the finer points of doggie etiquette--no petting, no crying, no running away, no sudden moves--are usually fairly safe when they encounter an off-leash dog. This training is the child's parents' responsibility."

Face it. Lots of people in Palo Alto just don't like dogs. These threads are just an excuse to vent about their dislike for dogs. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Please leash
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2017 at 4:07 pm

@Pot Kettle says: "I am not suggesting all laws should be ignored, but that people should not be preaching to others about breaking leash laws unless they are following other laws themselves. "

That still makes no absolutely sense. You are saying that no one can complain about law breaking unless they are perfect. We would have no judges or juries if that were the threshold.

If people are breaking a law that affects me, I have every right to complain about it. Period. If I happen to be breaking some law that affects you, preach away.

But don't attempt to invalidate my legitimate complaints by some lame "nobody is perfect" argument.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2017 at 6:27 pm

"Face it. Lots of people in Palo Alto just don't like dogs. These threads are just an excuse to vent about their dislike for dogs."

That's their privilege. It's still a free country.


8 people like this
Posted by Pot-Kettle
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2017 at 11:19 pm

@Please leash said "If people are breaking a law that affects me, I have every right to complain about it. Period."

Perfect example of the super-entitled attitude that permeates most of Palo Alto these days. Somebody wronged me so I get to complain about it!

Hope you can complain your way to happiness.


8 people like this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2017 at 1:26 am

resident3 is a registered user.

Actually complaining can make you happy, probably something about being honest.

Calling someone "super-entitled" because they complain about something though is bullying. Bullying has not been studied to lead to happiness.



5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 7:26 am

Most of the posts in this thread are complaints over imaginary fears and pure bullying of dog owners. Give me a break.

Super-entitled indeed.


20 people like this
Posted by bikermom
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:28 am

um...maybe because once an off-leash dog ran up to my 2 yr old daughter and bit her on the face. Fortunately it wasn't too bad and the owner was pretty unapologetic about it. That's why in addition to other reasons.


20 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 10:08 am

Its pretty rich having people who feel their dogs are entitled to run around terrorizing the neighborhoods/parks/schools despite the leash laws meant to ameliorate the real problems this causes, complain about others being "super entitled". When you decide to keep a dog in an urban/suburban environment you should know your responsibilities and the laws going into said decision. Unless you live in a cave, you would be fully aware of the leash laws ... these are mostly just people choosing to ignore the law because they are "entitled to it" and others be damned. We had dogs , cats, horses, cows, goats, chickens, sheep, etc when I was growing up, but I wouldn't do it in a more urban environment where there are naturally more restrictions due to much higher human population density.


7 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

To Penny, re Bedwell Bayfront Park. There is no patrol or enforcement there, so only users can request someone to leash their dog. Many of us hope that, with the current Master Plan process, Menlo Park will also fund the park and a regular patrol such as used to be present, to help with just such things. And big thanks to Sophia for her article.


10 people like this
Posted by Not ok
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 1:47 pm

On a walk, an unleashed dog was sniffing my genitals.

Dog owner: "oh, he's very friendly. Doesn't attack people."

Thank you for the reassurance, law breaker. I am not required to love your dog.
Go away. You make life unpleasant for other people.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 20, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Palo Alto's people-population is 67,000 resident, 120,000 daytime capacity, accurate to maybe a few percent. What is our dog population? Can't seem to find those data. A 2013 story here said 5,600 dogs were licensed, but claimed that was just 40 percent of the true total. An Animal Services Audit indicated that about 1/3 of households have at least one dog. Perceptions are probably all over the map.


23 people like this
Posted by Dog lover who appreciates leash laws
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Dog lover who appreciates leash laws is a registered user.

I love dogs. I have owned two. One recently died of old age. She was a lovely, well-behaved member of our family who is dearly missed. She (always leashed in public places in compliance with the law) was on two different occasions attacked and bitten by off-leash dogs in local parks. She was a submissive dog. She did nothing to provoke the attacks. She did not even defend herself. I had to pull the dogs off of her. The owners, both times, were busy on their cell phones oblivious to what their dags were doing until I yelled for their help.

On an earlier occasion, before I ever had a dog of my own, I was in Mitchell Park's toddler play area with my 2 1/2 year old daughter. I looked up from her play and a large dog was bounding across the field straight for her. Again, the owner was oblivious. Not knowing what the dog's intent was and fearing for my child's safety, I picked up my daughter and turned my back on the dog to use my body to protect her. There wasn't time to do anything else.

The owner suddenly noticed for some reason. I heard him call the dog (which continued to bound toward us). The owner yelled to me, "Don't worry. He's friendly!" I stood there holding my daughter, hoping for the best. The dog raced by after a squirrel that he chased up a tree. My heart was pounding. It was a terrible scare. The dog had looked like it was hunting (because it was).

The owner never apologized. He continued to call the dog (which did not come). Finally, he sauntered over to the dog and put a leash on it.

What a jerk. As a dog lover and owner, I find this kind of behavior appalling and irresponsible. I love my dog. I love my fellow citizens. Leash laws are in place for very good reasons. Be considerate of your neighbors. If you can't walk your dog enough to give him adequate exercise on leash, maybe you should consider some other kind of pet that requires less care. Leash laws are absolutely necessary. I agree with the writer of this guest opinion.


2 people like this
Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2017 at 4:08 pm

long view is a registered user.

The southern half of Stulsaft Park and part of Mid-Pen's Pulgas Ridge park are legal places for off leash dogs, offering much more off leash space than any fenced in dog parks. In the Hayward hills, there is Garin park with a huge area allowing off leash dogs. Your dog will thank you!


16 people like this
Posted by Please leash
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2017 at 5:22 pm

Pot-Kettle says "Perfect example of the super-entitled attitude that permeates most of Palo Alto these days. Somebody wronged me so I get to complain about it!"

This makes absolutely no sense. Expecting others to obey the law is certainly not "super-entitled". A far better example of "super-entitled" behavior is expecting wronged people to quietly acquiesce.


12 people like this
Posted by DogLover
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm

-- "Dog lover who appreciates leash laws" - wrote this:
> > The dog raced by after a squirrel that he chased up a tree. My heart was pounding. It was a terrible scare. The dog had looked like it was hunting (because it was).

I think this is the heart of it. When someone does not obviously have their dog under control it causes anxiety, fear or just your mind to wonder if you are in danger or not. Go for a few walks and always have to wonder if you are taking yours or your kid's or your dog's life in hand is needlessly stressful. Pretty soon you end up not wanting to go on walks because it is no fun. Bad inconsiderate dog owners have robbed you of your neighborhood, robbed you of the enjoyment of our community that we spend so much money and effort to sustain. It ain't right is it?.

You know who ought to be stressed ... the dog owners who do not follow the rules or consider other poeple - PERIOD!


15 people like this
Posted by Another Dog Lover
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 20, 2017 at 6:01 pm

As a long time dog lover and shelter volunteer, I strongly support the leash law.

The dogs are innocent. Its the owners who are breaking the law. Just like any law in society, we can argue the pros and cons all day, but we are all expected to obey the law.

Since we do have a leash law, lets all work to enforce it. I have called the Palo Alto Animal Control several times when I see a dog off leash. They're great at coming out in a reasonable time. They've also given out tickets up to $100.00 per incident.

So, lets help enforcing the leash law! For those who disagree, I encourage you to proactively work to change it. Till then, put your dog on a leash!

Thank you!


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2017 at 7:06 pm

As I said earlier, just because a dog is on a leash, it doesn't make the dog safe.

Leashes that are long enough to allow the dog to roam in yards, run into the street, tie around people's legs in parks, tied around strollers at the park while the owner plays with toddler, dogs that are tied to fences with long leashes are not on leash. Anyone who thinks their dogs are now safe are completely wrong.

A child under the age of 10 (or thereabouts) is not responsible enough to hold a leash without an adult in case of problems. A child under the age of 6 is not responsible enough to hold a leash at all just in case the dog acts unexpectedly. Some seniors, particularly those on walkers, are probably not strong enough if the dog acts unexpectedly.

"Walking" a dog on leash while on a bike, a scooter or rollerblades also seems very unsafe also.

Leashes help, but they are not infallible.


8 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:56 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

We HAD a dog park in Elk Meadow. We even had a special dog poop container. But certain ( Left Coast ) transplants ignored the laws about picking up their dog poop. The dog park was closed when the Department of Health checke the stream of water and found TEN TIMES THE LEGAL LIMIT OF E.COLI in that stream.

Yes there was complaints from these transplants wanted to reopen the dog park. The stream needs time to lower the dangerous E.Coli levels. The dog park may never re-open due to the human and wildlife danger.


4 people like this
Posted by @punnisher
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 21, 2017 at 9:28 am

Sounds like Elk Meadow didn't do the basics of finding a good spot for a dog park from the onset. Putting a dog park next to a stream in an environmentally sensitive area is idiotic. They also didn't run it very well apparently as erosion and invasive plant species were two other huge factors in closing it. Funny how you tried to blame the issue on new residents, and ONLY those from a particular area. I'm sure you have ample factual evidence to back that one up and I'm absolutely certain you didn't just make that part up in a grumpity-grump online comment to purge a bit of internal anger. haha ;)

Maybe Elk Meadow reps could come visit us here to see how to properly do it and guard against law breakers. It might be good for the citizens of Elk Meadow to re-start, but this time with a well thought out plan.


3 people like this
Posted by Bad Dog
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2017 at 10:44 am

If given the choice of adding more people to Palo Alto or more dogs to Palo Alto,
I would chose more dogs.
If given the choice of reducing the number of current people in Palo ALto, or number of Dogs in Palo ALto, I would reduce the number of people.
[Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Marley
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2017 at 11:16 am

Some good points have been made about the responsibilities that come with having a dog.

Lake Lagunita is being used by folks who don't want to play by the rules that everyone else largely follows.


18 people like this
Posted by Bad Dog
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Apropos behavior in parks, I would suggest that when Dog behavior is mapped across the spectrum of Human behavior, that I have experienced much worse behavior from humans in parks than I have from dogs. I have witnessed children throwing rocks at wildlife, had an errant baseball from a nearby "game of catch" strike my 2-year old in the head, we have had our folding chairs and a cooler stolen when we left them for a few minutes to take a short walk around the park, and we have had our car broken into at the park.

Lastly, I would suggest that the lack of, or use of, a leash is a human behavior failing, and is not the fault of the dog.

perhaps this post will not be censored.....


1 person likes this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 21, 2017 at 3:33 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

What I have noticed for many years of taking my dogs to PA parks is that the problem was hardly ever dog behavior, it was human behavior. Frankly, if anybody should have been leashed, it wasn't the dogs. Friends who still take their dogs to PA parks tell me that it's still true.There are very few reasons to leash dogs. On the other hand..


3 people like this
Posted by Mad Dog Mike
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

"What I have noticed for many years of taking my dogs to PA parks is that the problem was hardly ever dog behavior, it was human behavior."

Those off-leash humans are a major public nuisance in our parks. They chase puppies and bite and maul them when they catch them, they menace dogs with growls and bared bicuspids, and they leave poop just everywhere. Any dog whose human is not properly leashed should be impounded for a year.


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 21, 2017 at 5:40 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I've witness many many situation where dogs were running around in the park peacefully, until a very agressive human arrived. The human was making his dog nervous, and when another dog tried to play with their dog, the human became very agitated, then became aggressive toward the dog and its owner and started a fight. His dog picked up on his belligerence and aggression and became aggressive toward other dogs. The culprit is always another human, not the dogs.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bad Dog
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm

@Mad Dog Mike: "Those off-leash humans are a major public nuisance in our parks."

Yup. Drunken behavior, littering, two Moms fighting over claiming picnic tables for their kids birthday bar-b-que party - Now THAT is scary sight.

"They chase puppies and bite and maul them when they catch them. They menace dogs with growls and bared bicuspids"

I've never seen that, but I have seen one person kick a dog in the ribs at the park so hard that I heard a crack, and they shouted that the owner better keep their dog away or they would kill it. I also saw a man throw a baseball bat at a dog that had stolen their softball.

"and they (humans) leave poop just everywhere."

Well... actually I HAVE seen that in Boll Park. Here is s story about it happening in Colorado...
Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Please leash
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2017 at 10:53 am

mauricio says "The culprit is always another human, not the dogs."

If you are talking about hostile dog behavior, maybe. If you are talking about unwanted interactions with dogs, definitely not. The most common situation is the happy dog who wants to play with me or jump up on my daughter. The dog isn't being mean or hostile, but that doesn't mean I want its nose buried in my crotch.

That said, *most* dogs are well behaved and *most* dog owners are responsible. But it just takes one uncontrolled dog to ruin a child's day.


4 people like this
Posted by PAmom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2017 at 11:28 am

I've been chased by dogs on my bike, with them snapping at my heals while my heart pounded in my chest. My son is afraid of dogs due to being chased in a park by two when he was a toddler. Only one poster mentioned dogs loose in traffic. I've seen dogs hit by cars and killed. It's not just for humans' safety, it's for the dogs'.