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Dog owners request more off-leash space

Original post made on Aug 29, 2007

Proudly sporting stickers for the recently created "PARDOG," Palo Alto dog owners overflowed the small meeting room in City Hall Tuesday, voicing support for additional off-leash exercise space rather than harsher leash-law enforcement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 12:52 PM

Comments (69)

Posted by A bit apprehensive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2007 at 1:25 pm

I am all for dog parks for RESPONSIBLE dog owners! Coming from just having my animals viciously attacked by an off leash dog - and a friend being bit by an off leash dog can be scary!

If the park is fenced in - and being around off leashed dogs, is completely up to an individual - then I'm all for it! Otherwise - it opens the community up for trouble for those few bad seeds that have aggression.

Posted by aw
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2007 at 2:27 pm

More dog runs is a great idea so long as they are supervised and someone has the right to ban bad or misfit dogs. Could be via volunteer signups.

The reason many of us prefer clandestine schoolyard dog groups is the groups shun aggressive dogs. Great social outing for the owners as well; where else in Palo Alto do teachers, small business owners and venture capitalists all hang out together?

Posted by PA Dog
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Apprehensive - I think you are on the same page with the "PARDOG" people - they want fenced in areas where responsible dog owners can let dogs off leash. Everyone benefits from fences - the dog owners don't have to worry about the dogs running away and the people who are afraid of dogs don't have to worry about off leash dogs approaching them.

Posted by GMC
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 29, 2007 at 2:48 pm

I appreciate the effort to actually change the regulations, rather than blatantly ignoring them.

Posted by markv
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2007 at 2:49 pm

I don't understand why this is an either/or question as is phrased in the opening paragraph of the article: "voicing support for additional off-leash exercise space rather than harsher leash-law enforcement.". This seems to have such an easy resolution: dog owners get additional dog runs and/or times in parks in exchange for stricter enforcement of the no-leash laws for violaters. Bundle the two issues together and everyone should be happy.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Glad to see that at long last some sense is being put into this topic. I expect the residents of any park that doesn't have a dog run wouldn't want one, after all this is Palo Alto. I hope that the NIMBYs who are worried about dogs and traffic are people who don't actually have dogs themselves. As it is, nearly all the parks have traffic issues as sport, picnics and birthday parties take place there. A dog run would not make a huge impact on traffic unless there was only one dog run open in the city.

What we really need is more than one dog run to be opened. Most dog owners would prefer to walk on leash to a dog run, not have the over excited dog have to be put in the car for its daily walk.

Posted by Rubye
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Anyone living near Palo Alto University Avenue has spotted my husband and I walking our two dogs, Tibetan Terriers, as we walk into Palo Alto for our daily mocha runs.

They may also know that our dogs are now quite afraid of other dogs when they are on leash as they were badly hurt by an being attacked by an off leash Labradore Retriever. I won't give the gorey details, but it was traumatic for all of us and the retriever's owners paid for the very expensive vet bills.

Redwood Shores has a wonderful setup for dogs. They have two separate fenced in areas- one for large dogs and one for small dogs. Dogs need to run and there are a couple of areas next to the creek off Palo Alto Avenue that could nicely be transformed to a couple of dog parks. There are a lot of dogs and dog lovers in this area and we are definitely in need of some run and play space for dogs. And even with fenced in areas, dog owners still need to be responsible by not bringing unsocialized dogs and picking up after their dogs.

Thank you to all considerate dog owners. We truely enjoy the mix of dogs in the neighborhood as we are avid animal lovers overall.

Posted by Just Moved Here
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 29, 2007 at 5:39 pm

First, I am not currently a dog owner, but have owned a dog in the past. I have suffered from more than one serious dog bite - each time caused by an untrained, unleashed dog and an irresponsible owner. My ten year old nephew had to have corrective surgury after being attacked by an unleashed, untrained dog - disfiguring the boy's face and essentially traumatizing him - he is now deathly terrified of all dogs. I get very angry when dog owners blantantly disregard the leash law - can't they understand that not everyone is comfortable around dogs. I've had dogs leap up on me, muddy paw prints all over my clothing - no, it isn't cute, it's irresponsible. I'm all for designated, fenced dog parks if it means that the leash law will be more strictly enforced. Where I used to live, in Evanston Illinois, the city had a designated dog beach and a designated leash-free dog park, both were fenced in areas. In both cases, a city employee was on site - in order to access the park or beach, dog owners were required to purchase a yearly pass at city hall. To purchase the pass, they had to show proof that vacinations were up to date. It seemed to be a good system for everyone. Perhaps PA could do something similar. At the very least, perhaps more dog owners could show a little bit more sensitivity to the fact that many people are fearful of dogs - for good reason.

Posted by Without a dog
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2007 at 6:08 pm

The logical place to have a large dog run is the big open field between the skate board park and West Bayshore next to Greer Park. This area is a big ugly expanse of weeds right now. Go for it "PARDOG" see if you can get council to designate at least some of that open space for your dogs. Dog areas are relatively cheap to build and maintain compared to soccer fields or tennis courts.

Posted by Barbara Millin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2007 at 7:39 pm

If you are interested in joining the quest to get great parks to meet your neighbors while you exercise your dog(s) and work toward a more realistic leash law, join PARDOG.
Send your email address to
If that doesn't work, send your email to Barbara Millin at

Peers Park area residents!! If you would like to have a safe enclosed area to run your dog off leash, be sure to attend the next neighborhood meeting. Contact Greg Betts at

Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Dear Palo Alto Dog Owners: I just returned from a walk at the Palo Alto Baylands where a man was blatantly violating the leash law. I say "blatantly" because when I politely pointed out that the park was an on-leash area he laughed at me and jogged on with his dog. This disturbs me because the Baylands is an ecologically sensitive area. Fortunately, I've only seen an off-leash dog twice at the Baylands in the past 4 years. (The other time, the lady put her dog on leash as soon as I mentioned the rule). My conclusion from my experience is that most Baylands dog walkers are law-abiding, and I truly appreciate the fact that the dog-owning community in Palo Alto is generally respectful of leash laws on the Baylands. I agree with one of the prior posters that in addition to providing fenced and dedicated off-leash areas, we should stiffen penalties for violations of leash laws, especially in very sensitive areas like the Baylands. Thank you.

Posted by PA Dog
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2007 at 10:47 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Dogs
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2007 at 5:19 am

Comments from above....

> I have suffered from more than one serious dog bite - each time caused by an untrained, unleashed dog and an irresponsible owner

> disfiguring the boy's face and essentially traumatizing him

Why are we blaming the owner of the dog....A dog is an animal..Let me repeat a "DOG IS AN ANIMAL" period. Many dog owners don't see it that way.

People who lack friends keep dogs....

Make more friends.. you will not need a dog....

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2007 at 7:38 am

PA Dog - are you serious? if someone is breaking the law, I don't care where they live, and I would applaud that they are gettting involved.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2007 at 7:55 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 8:32 am

I believe in the Baylands in Mountain View (they are all connected) by Shoreline, no dogs are allowed at all whether leashed or unleashed.

I think that the Baylands in particular, being a nature and wildlife preserve, should be dog free apart from guide dogs for the blind.

However, our other parks should have times for unrestricted dog walking. A properly exercised dog is a lot less likely to be a danger or a nuisance.

Posted by PA Dog
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2007 at 9:42 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by suzan Stewart
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2007 at 11:28 am

The demand for open space and recreational space in Palo Alto will increase as more housing is added. What seems to be inevitable is that there will need to be some designated dual use areas in various areas of the city where dog owners know they can safely and legally play with their dogs and residents know dogs will be there, within fenced areas so that walkers or joggers will not be bothered. Mitchell Park's dog play area can certainly be improved and perhaps modestly extended. It does not seem realistic that the city can provide comparable facilities in each major area of Pslo Alto. That is why the best option will be to work out dual usage arrnagements. It is also my experience that when groups regularly gather to allow their dogs to play, people know each other and they know each other's dogs and make suret hat when new people come their dogs are not aggressive. People with dogs are no more tolerant of aggressive untrained dogs than are those without dogs. I have even seen people refer others to training classes to help them socialize their pets and become more responsible owners. The City staff cannot do it alone. That is why , for the interests of all, this need must be addressed.

Posted by Ignorance Again
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Dog Owners: Thank you to those of you who are very responsible about your dogs. It helps all of us, and it means one less trauma.

A reminder: the phone number for animal control, where you can report off-leash dogs, is 650-329-2413. Don't hesitate to call this number, these are very nice people.

Posted by safety first
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 30, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Allow dogs off leash more but enforce a muzzle order. All dogs, whether on or off leashes need to be muzzled.

Posted by JF
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2007 at 4:55 pm

I just want to put this out there as a reminder.

An overexcited dog SHOULD be walked to a dog park (or prior to visiting) - not driven over to then be let out wildly into a dog park. More fights start in dog parks due to over-excited dogs and a contagious anxiety that causes the park to battle as opposed to just 2 dogs. A dog that gets some of that energy out prior to the dog park will do much better.

Like the Dog Whisperer says..."the Dog Park is like Starbucks for dogs- not a substitute for a walk." It's a place to be social as well as play- but should not be your only form of exercise for your dog.

If people follow the dog park rules as well as have dog parks that weren't in out of the way places, than others wouldn't be trying to create new spaces. They obviously want a new dog park because they find school yards and parks to meet several other dogs to play. So rule abiding, accessibility and upkeep are all issues that should be addressed in this argument.

My 2 cents

Posted by Suchmo
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 30, 2007 at 5:36 pm

I'm a dog owner. The only viable and practical space left for a serious dog run in Palo Alto is the area in Greer Park between the skateboarding area and W.Bayshore Rd. However, to be frank, that would be a waste of money. Dog owners will walk their dogs to the nearest schoolyard or park. Even the few who put their dogs in their car drive to the nearest schoolyard/park. Dog owner communities in which people socialize and network is the norm in Palo Alto. It's at least as much about the human social interaction than it is about exercising the dogs. Dog owners who like the social scene of their unofficial dog-run communities will keep going to Addison, Garland, Jordan or any other school yard(after school is out), take their dogs off leash and take their chances while schmoozing with their friends. Nothing is going to change;dogs, dog owners and dogless residents will have to continue to coexist, just like they have been doing all along.

Posted by MC
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 30, 2007 at 5:49 pm

We take our dog for a several mile walk every day but she also needs to have some social time to run around with other dogs off leash. This requires at least an acre of space and it should be relatively clean dirt or preferably grass. Smallish fenced dogparks like the one at Mitchell Park have pretty stinky grounds. The ball park in Menlo Park is good, but only open for 10 hours a week; hardly convenient for dogs whose people work. (Admission: Sometimes we join an ad hoc group of dogs and their people at our closest school's playing fields.) Of course dog owners need to be alert to aggressive dogs and clean up any messes they see in the area.

BTW, I have noticed that dogs on leash tend to be more aggressive to each other than dogs off leash, although I am not sure if that means dogs on leash feel more territorial or more anxious or what. Any dog whisperers out there with an answer?

Posted by Doesn't matter
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Off-leash or not, you don't know how friendly your dog is if it goes up to a child, and you don't want to find out when it's too late. Keep them on a leash for EVERYBODY'S safety. Don't be ignorant.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:17 am

Dogs kept on leash around off leash dogs become quite aggressive. That means that dog owners are pretty much forced to have their dogs off leash in ad hoc groups at schoolyards and school playing fields, where most PA dog owners take their dogs. There will almost always be kids with and without their parents in those areas, so the situation of off leash dogs running around off with kids playing near them is a daily occurence and I don't know that there is a solution for that.

Posted by Responsible Dog Owner
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:50 am

Sarlat-Just because other irresponsible dog owners have their dogs off-leash doesn't mean, nor should it mean, that I'll take the leash off of my dogs when your dogs run up to mine. Other people's irresponsibility is not an excuse for your own.

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:00 am

Sarlat--there is a solution--dogowners should obey the law and authorities make sure that the laws are enforced (unless you are the DA or a former city council member, then you can do whatever you want). There is no excuse for dogs being off leash in schoolyards and playing fields. We saw what happened last year to that little boy. Any person caught with an off leash dog should be fined and jailed and their dog confiscated. off leash (or for that matter) any dog attacking another person or dog should be put down. Period end of story.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:57 am

Marvin - wow what reasonable ideas - why not treat dog owners who let their dogs off leash like sex offenders - we could put their photos on a website and not let them live near schools. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:58 am

Another point not yet mentioned.

Just because a dog is leashed, it doesn't mean it doesn't cause problems. I have had dogs on ridiculously long leashes trip me because I didn't see the leash, and tie themselves around me or my stroller, or my toddler. These long leashes are a real nuisance and in my opinion more problem than off leash dogs. Often the owners tie their dogs to a park bench while they sit and chat to a friend and are not watching their dogs' as vigilantly as they should be in the mistaken assumption that the leash is all that is needed.

Posted by get some dignity
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:05 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:06 am

Citizen--sorry you do not feel that certain laws should be enforced. Maybe it is that lack of enforcement that gives people the feeling that their dogs can run wild wherever they please--a law with some teeth in it will change those attitudes.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 11:50 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I personally just walk my dog, leashed, a few times a day and don't take him to playing fields in order to socialized with other dogs because to me it's not worth the trouble of worrying about him around other dogs and humans, although he's generally a very nice and unaggressive dog. In reality however, walk by any PA school on weekends or during weekdays in the late afternoon and you'll realize that they are de-facto dog parks, like it or not, with dogs running off leash and their owner socializing. This isn't going to change even if the city starts enforcing the leash laws more vigorously, because most dog owners will never give up exercising their dogs and the dog owner communities are too attractive for people to give up. As far as putting down any dog who attacks a person-it's fine as long as we put down any person who attacks a dog:Michael Vick for example.

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 31, 2007 at 11:58 am

Sarlat--it is well known that dogs are routinely put down for just attacking people and/or other dogs--in fact all animals are put down in these cases. A different standard is used for humans--suggesting that we execute Michael Vick is ridiculous and has nothing to do with this topic.
It is clear from your statements that enforcement is lacking since you state that people have their dogs off-leash and do not seem to worry about the consequences--then when we have a dog attack, people wring their hands. Maybe enforcement needs to be stepped up and off leash dogs impounded as I stated above. Let's not forget that owning a dog does not give you the right to endager other dogs and people just because you feel that your dog needs to be off-leash. Enforce the laws, punish the violators, confiscate off leash dogs and put down dogs that attack.
Let us not also forget that dogs are animals, that we in our superior wisdom have decided to domesticate.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Marvin, the city will never get away with impounding off leash dogs, it will never happen. What I'm trying to make clear is that in Palo Alto, an overdeveloped community and in which land is extremely valuable, dogs and humans will have to coexist with no clear solution(large dedicated dog-runs), and that is what has been going on for years.
We are also animals, just like dogs, although dogs are generally by fa nicer and more trustworthy than humans. I don't know of any dog who wuld invade another country and cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of others, humans or dogs. If you demand the destruction of a dog for biting a human, a human who kills a dog unnecessarily should be destroyed as well-no double standard.

Posted by Ron
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 1:56 pm


Although I take your point that their is no real will to enforce the leash laws in PA (like many other laws and rules that do not get enforced), I am willing to bet that IF the leash laws were, suddenly, to be enforced (with major fines), the dogs WOULD be kept on leash.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

It would be very easy to enforce the off-leash law, if the animal control officers were directed to do it. A major liability lawsuit, following a serious dog bite incidence, will help pave the way....

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 31, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Sarlat--if you say that there should be no double standard, then fine--if robbers, killers etc are arrested and prosecuted for breaking the law, then people who violate the leash law should be treated the same way as any other criminal.
It is not I that demands the destruction of a dog (or any other animal) that attacks a human--that is the law and the punishment for a human that abuses an animal is also written in law. So there is no double standard in that--the double standard is the lack of enforcement of certain laws.

Posted by Doesn't Matter
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Complete ignorance. It's simple: don't take the leash off your dog. I don't care if its in a fenced area (except a dog run), don't unleash your dog, especially if there are kids around. Again, you don't know if your dog is aggressive until its too late. How about getting some exercise with your dog and running with it to get a ball?

Don't be ignorant. Keep a leash on your dog at ALL times. Don't be ignorant and refuse the law. I don't care about your excuses. Don't put other people in jeopardy just because you don't want to hold a leash.

Posted by carmen
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2007 at 4:57 pm

There are many laws that can't and won't be enforced. The leafblowers ban is a perfect example. At least in my neighborhood, 95 percent of gardeners still use, or reverted to using gas blowers and there's very little we can do about it. The city won't enforce the leash law either, there aren't nearly enough animal control officers, and the dog owner public which is substantial won't stand for it. There are too many dogs that need to be exercised, very few dog runs, the few that exist are too small, antiquated and grossly unappealing, and the social scene of dog owners hanging out in a school playing field in their own neighborhood while their dogs run off leash far too appealing to them. As a dog owner who daily speaks to other dog owners, don't know of even one who will keep their dogs on leash at the park or playing school, no matter how high the fines get, most dogs just have to run and there just isn't enough land to create dog only parks in Palo Alto. Those who demand that dog owners keep their dogs off leash in playing field at all time live in fantasy land-it just won't happen, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Posted by Paulinho
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Dogs are part of the natural world and have as much right to be here as humans. We have problems with finding space for them to exercise and run free without a leash because we have grossly overdeveloped Palo Alto. We need to reverse this obscene overdevelopment and create suffecient space for dogs and their owners. We need spacious, wisely designed and well maintained dog-runs, instead of becoming another Hong Kong.

Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm

Most of the dogs we have problems with (and we have a dog) are not those running in the school yard - they are the ones on long leashes, being walked by small children who can't control them or drop the leash or are (my personal favorite) walking off leash in the neighborhood. I have also never understood why anyone lets their dog go to the bathroom on someone else's property. Aside from that:

Dogs should be walked for exercise - if your dog's only exercise is running in the dog park, you are neglecting them.

Dogs have a fight-or-flight instinct - on a leash they feel they must fight an off-leash dog.

If you have a small yard, get a dog you can exercise in the space you have or take them for walks, bike rides, roller blading, etc. Don't expect the city or school district to solve your problems.

Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2007 at 6:24 pm

"Dogs are part of the natural world and have as much right to be here as humans"

Paulinho, so are bacteria. Do you suggest that humans not use antibiotics?

Human beings are SUPREME vs. all other animals. Get used to it. We parents will defend our kids, and ourselves, over your mutt any day of the week.

It is cruel to keep dogs, a natural social pack animal, as slaves to individual human egoistic needs ("man's best friend"). Dogs should be banned from urban settings. They are animals that enjoy their pack mates in a rural environment. Keep them there.

Posted by Gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2007 at 8:57 am

Al, reading your comments make me seriously rethink the theory that human beings are supreme to all other animals.

Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm


There is hope! This means that at some point in your life you realized that humans ARE superior to other animals.

I just want to add dogs to the list of other farm animals that are currently banned in urbans areas (chickens, goats, sheep, cows, pigs, etc.).

Posted by Gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2007 at 12:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2007 at 1:04 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2007 at 1:04 pm

That won't be necessary, Gerald, because all those animals are already banned, with or without your support. But for huamn ego, gone overboard, dogs would be on that list, too. They are loud, dirty, occasionally dangerous and almost always desiring to fight each other to establish pack dominance. If they had not already been artificially created (from wolves and wild dogs) by humans, they would not be allowed to be created today (too dangerous, and too many problems).

Posted by woofie
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2007 at 2:09 pm

Plus je connais les hommes, plus j'aime mon chien.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Gerald - have you actually read the Palo Alto Weekly - do you think these guys voted for Bush? - its not exactly the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Your fellow liberals are the ones who are so eager to censor you.

Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Another thought on why dogs should be banned in urban environments.

Remember the controversy about cigarette smoking in public? Many people, who were addicted to them, demanded their "rights" to pollute the public air with their obnoxious habit. Today, we are largely free of second-hand smoke. The same thing should happen with dogs. Most dog owners are so self-absorbed that they think it is cute when their dog slobbers all over strangers, or sniff your crotch, or hump your leg, or pant in your face (bad breath!), or jump on you with reckless abandon, or defecate on your lawn.

The rest of us should fight back. Why should we ENCOURAGE dog ownership in the city? At a minimum, dogs should be kept on a short leash, and OFF our city parks. If dog owner want to run their dogs off leash, they should move to the country.

Posted by Barbara Millin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2007 at 5:14 pm

This issue is really about us, the citizens of the towns, not the dogs.

The members of Palo Alto Responsible Dog Owners Group (PARDOG - join at ) are among those requesting sufficient safe legal spaces to play with our dogs off-leash.

This group recognizes the importance "Dog Parks" have in dog owners’ lives. Where dog owners' meet, a town square forms. Neighbors become acquainted and discuss a range of topics from family and neighborhood concerns to movies and restaurants. These are joyful spots in the community.

Palo Alto dog owners have two hurdles to leap before the city can be declared "dog owner friendly".
One is to invalidate or update the 50 year old leash law to reflect present day realities.
The second is to provide sufficient large safe spaces for owners to take dogs for off-leash romping.

The city is expected to meet the needs of young children with playgrounds, soccer and baseball players of all ages with fields, and seniors with a center, Dog owners, as citizens, have every right to expect the city to provide for their space needs as well. It is all about the people. The dogs are the reason the communities have formed.

As stated by others in this forum, there is limited space in our community. It can and needs to be shared. Fields are not used for soccer and baseball games at the same time.
There are many hours of the day when fields, parks and school yards are not used by anyone.
These are hours that could be posted for use by dog owners.

I urge citizens of all towns and cities to contact their Parks and Recreation Commission and city council, and to join and support groups such as PARDOG (, Menlo's DOGMA, and Redwood Shores' in their quest to build more solid communities in our towns by being dog owner friendly.

Posted by Kelly
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 6:12 pm


The lawn bowling green is not used most of the time. Why not let your dogs romp there?

If you don't like that idea, then how about actually USING the dog run at Hoover Park, instead of the grass soccer/baseball field?

Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Barbara, thank you for your post which sheds some light on what you are trying to accomplish.

Is a challenge with much of the available space you seek to use that it needs to be fully fenced-in, with fairly high fences, to work as an off-leash dog area? Many (all?) of the large fields and school yards that I am familiar with are not set up that way. Do you have specific fields in mind that would work?

Also, are there examples of other towns you know of where "posted sharing" is used? I would worry a bit that while, say, kids wandering into a soccer game might not be so dangerous, wandering into an unleashed dog-run might cause issues. Is posting sufficient to warn potential visitors that they might be at risk?

Also, it seems like increased facilities would only come at a price of shutting down the local informal dog runs (like the one most evenings at Gunn high school near my home, for instance). Do you see this as part of the solution? Do you believe that residents will pass up their nearby schools and parks to travel to a designated area at the designated time? Or do you see a lot of distributed dog-enabled areas?

Thanks for your thoughts,

Posted by JF
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 2, 2007 at 9:07 pm

As a dog lover and owner of two rescues...I am in favor of increasing dog park areas in PA and around. My husband and I are annoyed at the amount of open space areas in SM County that do not allow dogs ON LEASH. I also miss the days of walking my dog at the dish. They have so much patrolling there now, I don't see why dogs are not allowed there on leash. Just make a gigantic fine for those that cannot follow the rules...and put those funds back into restoration.

As far as sharing parks & fields, I am not sure this is the answer. Sports Fields that are not artificial are difficult to maintain. We have already seen that we have a field shortage in the area and when fields are being repaired that gives one less to the community for youth, adult and after school sports. I know that one issue that stems from dogs on fields is the lack of poop scooping. The kids end up sliding around in the "deposits" on the soccer fields. With dogs running and urinating on the grass- more city time will be needed in reseeding, watering and maintaining these sports fields. I think it is important to create a designated space for both. I can't think of any city that hasn't struggled trying to keep grass in the dog parks. This is why we end up with we currently have. I think the artificial astro turf dog park in Foster City is gross and smells like a toilet- so not my first choice.

Posted by Kelly
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:38 am


Thank you for being honest about how dogs tear up (and mess up) grass playing fields. Dogs and kids playing fields do not mix.

The problem with many dogs on leash, on a trail, is that they fight, or try to fight. Some also bite. Maybe there could be a time period, when only dogs on leash are allowed on a trail (like the dish), while non dog owners are prohibited.

The leash laws in Palo Alto could be easily enforced, if major fines were handed out.

Posted by Max
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Some people fight, murder, rape, mutilate, pollute, vandalize and destroy other people. Does that justify banning humans from trails, parks or cities? Players and watchers of weekend soccer and baseball games in our playing field leave behind an astonishing amount of trash, some of it is left on the fields:rotting food, glass bottles(sometime broken), metal cans, chicken bones, etc. Should soccer or baseball games be banned from our parks and playing fields? Why dogs, which are almost always nicer and far less harmful to others and to the planet and not people?

Posted by Kelly
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 12:51 pm


Your sentiment to argue to moral equivalence is not convincing to me. I have not witnessed a physical fight, between humans, in Palo Alto in over 20 years. However, I have witnessed at least 20 fights between dogs, in PA, in the past year. A small child was severely bitten by an off leash dog at a school and a small dog was killed while crossing the street by a pit bull (on leash), both within the past year. Normal sex, among dogs, is essentially rape. Dogs attempt to mutilate cats, whenever they get a chance. A confined dog is a natural vandlizer (out of boredom). Dogs don't use modern weapons to destroy people, like humans do, but IF they had the ability to shoot guns, they would, with no hesitation (it is their nature to dominate the competition).

OK, enough of this silly anthropormorphizing....

If a person needs a friend, join a group and develop a human friend. But if you settle on a dog, keep it on a leash, when you are out in public.

Dogs in urban areas need to be on leash, period.

Posted by Max
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:21 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] My point is that people will always own dogs, even in urban areas. A minority of drivers run red lights and drive while impaired, a majority obeys the rules. You aren't going to ban all drivers because a minority doesn't obey the rules. A majority of dog owners in PA walk their dogs without a leash and don't pick after them the majority behaves responsibly, but people like want to make owning a dog in PA virtually impossible. I personally always keep my dog on a leash when in public, but some people don't, and since most violators, just like most red light runners, will not get caught, learn to live with it.
If you haven't witnessed a physical fight in PA in the last 20 years, you apparently don't get out much, but you probably heard of a few murders, assaults, rapes and robberies in the last 10 years or so,but I wonder when was the last time a dog actually killed a person in Palo Alto? One last question:do you think that there's one dog in the world wo is capable of forging intelligence and invading Iraq, killing hundred of thousands in the process? Think hard.

Posted by Kelly
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:53 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I had several dogs in my youth, when I was raised on a farm. I like dogs. They are fun to watch, as they romp with their pack. However, an isolated dog is a neurotic being, forced to please its master. I am willing to leave that moral dilemma up to the dog and its master (aka "best friend", from the master's point of view). However, just like red light runners get ticketed, when caught, dogs off leash should be ticketed. I suggest the same fine as for red light runners.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I have not seen a physical fight, among humans, in PA in the past 20 years. Dogs are another matter. Just watch as two dog owners, with their dogs on leash, approach each other on a is typical that the dogs want to go after each other. Why not? It is their nature.

I have no idea if dogs would, if capable, invade Iraq, but I suspect that if they thought it was full of cats, they would.In the meantime, I suggest that we enforce our current laws, so that they do not invade us!

My husband also liked dogs, and was raised with them in the country. We never owned a dog in the city, because we thought it was inappropriate. He is dead now, but I am sure that he would agree with me, on this issue of dogs off leash in PA.

Posted by Max
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2007 at 2:40 pm

I have no problems with dog owners getting ticketed when breaking the law. However, just like red light runners or drunk drivers, most will not be caught, for obvious reasons and we just have to accept it a a fact of life. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] You also ignore the great and undisputed psychological and health benefit of owning a dog. Not everybody can live on a farm, and living in an urban area shouldn't prevent people from owning dogs. Just about any time dogs are compared to humans, humans don't come out looking that good, so we have no right to decide whee dogs can or cannot live. We are the aggressors, killers and destroyers-I'm stunned that dogs can actually stand humans, we are so deadly and destructive.

Posted by Kelly
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 3:08 pm


I think we have come to a pragmatic, if not philosophical, agreement. Drunk drivers, red light runners and owners of dogs off leash should be ticketed and fined severely.

Posted by Too many dogs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Max, Dogs can stand humans because they aren't very smart. They are loyal even to people who abuse them.
People acquire dogs without thinking about what the dogs will need or want. Now they want everyone else to make it right.
Dog owners, why don't you chip in and buy a piece of land to use for your animals? or ask new residents with animals to chip in. We are becoming short of space for people.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 3:54 pm

I don't own a dog, but I grew up with dogs. My sister still owns a dog. I do know something about dogs.

If I was going to own a dog in Palo Alto, it would be a small dog. Large dogs need a lot of exercise. Most large dogs I meet in Palo Alto are not exercised well enough. They need some freedom while they exercise and they need to be able to use their large muscles and run flat out. They need to be able to run in a way that it is not possible for them to run on leash. For this reason, thinking that exercising a dog while cycling and/or roller blading is good enough, then you are doing your poor dog a misservice. To begin with, its paws are not going to be able to stand this much heavy exercise on concrete or tarmac.

No, unless you have a large yard (I don't think the majority of even what we call large yards in PA are large enough) you should only consider a small dog.

It is not that we don't want dogs in Palo Alto, it is that we don't have space for the large ones. Small to medium is what is best and that is only for those who have space and the ability to let them get their exercise properly.

Posted by Pug-tzu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2007 at 8:21 am

relax, folks - smile and find a way to enjot each other - you can do it!

Web Link

Posted by Meow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 6, 2007 at 8:23 pm

Get a cat!

Posted by Ann Pianetta
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2007 at 9:57 am

It would be a dream come true to have a piece of land dedicated to dogs. For me ideally it would be a big piece of land (5 acres?) in the country with a 45 minute walking trail so the dogs can run around, dig, chase insects and just walk along with you. All the City would have to provide is a couple of portapotties, garbage can, and water, and fence or create natural barriers so the dogs don't run in the street or cause other problems. And there should be a sign for no horses, bikes or children under a certain age or height (just because dogs can be unpredictable).

People using this park can then walk their dogs, walk themselves and enjoy the fact that no one will yell at them. People will be responsible for picking up after the dogs. This park would allow dogs that need extra exercise to get it in a running mode. These are the sporting dog groups and also terriers. A tired dog is a happy and more settled dog.

It would be really nice if the City would dedicate some of their Open Space for this. This would be perfect as there would be very little upkeep to the land. Maybe with people using this land could also erradicate some of the invasive weeds that the City wants taken out.
Anyone who is interested in persuing this idea of a dog park please email me at

Posted by what's an extra few bucks?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2007 at 11:14 am

"All the City would have to provide is a couple of portapotties, garbage can, and water, and fence or create natural barriers "
And then all the City would have to provide is regular garbage collection, continuous maintenance for the fences & plumbing, and portapotty waste disposal. Why not? It almost sounds cost-neutral.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm

I feel that Ann may be on to something. And, while we are at it, there should be an annual charge for both a dog and cat licence. I am not advocating a huge fee, but something in line with the size of the dog could be appropriate.

Ann, a great sounding idea. I think though that a charge for using this type of park would be in order. Once again, a small charge each time you used the park something similar to the cost of parking at Caltrain, would be worth paying for the use of the facilities.

I know many pet owners are elderly and these charges may be difficult for them, but it would seem that if the city provided certain facilities to accommodate dog owners, then the charge to the dog owners sounds reasonable. I know that owning a dog causes various expenses, and the cost of licences and use of a really good dog park would just make these expenses higher, but if someone really considers their dog worth having, these charges would be par for the course.

Posted by Poodle
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2007 at 3:15 pm

I would happily pay for a tag or permit that allows access to dog open space. Acceptable cost would depend on how nice the space is, but $25-100/year isn't unreasonable.

Alternatively, there could be open dog hours at local parks. My local park is pretty quiet before 7 AM, and allowing dogs to run free at that time shouldn't cause any great damage to the other users.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on Jun 6, 2017 at 5:20 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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