Thursday, February 5, 2009

We Are Not Alone; Much Adoo in Carroll Park

The following was posted on a pro-leash board (yes, you got that right) on the West Coast:


I spoke to the groundskeeper today and got the scoop, so I thought I'd cc sfdog so they were informed as well.

It seems a couple weeks ago, a dog ran into a older man and knocked him over. An ambulance came to take him away, etc. He just got some cuts, but since he was old (92 ??), it's hard to heal. He didn't want to report anything to groundskeeper, who showed up after the incident (she did not actually witness it herself... so, she heard about it third hand). Instead, he wrote directly to City Hall and threatened them and told them they need to get the dogs leashed up. She told me that has caused both park rangers to be assigned to this park.

So, on Wednesday of this week, four officers came to park and issued warnings and maybe even some tickets. For those of you who do not know this park, it is SMALL. And out of the way. And is a pretty calm and safe environment overall. There is an unofficial off leash area where people let their dogs play and they throw balls, etc. But, there is no legally sanctioned off leash area. However, sending 4 officers in one morning to an area that is completely visible to the naked eye from the park entrance seems a little overboard. I think the most dogs I've ever seen there at once is maybe 10. Usually, there are only 2-5 dogs - or none.

I really wish they could give out tickets for actual bad behaviors,like going in the children's pay area, or not cleaning up poop, or even allowing your dog to jump on other visitors. But to have to restrict all dogs due to the one in 500 who actually does something stupid (not even vicious) seems unfair. Also, with all the crime around the park (there have been gang shootings, muggings, home break-ins, etc.), I personally would rather have police stopping actual crime rather than ticketing off leash dogs.

I'm going to follow Sally's suggestion and contact Dufty and other city officials to state my case. I hope others will join me in protesting the overuse of police and park patrol for this little park.

And, I wanted to give people who visit the park a head's up to look for officers!!

- Beverly

Which resulted in the following responses:

1. Another "responsible" "professional" dog walker speaks out.

I'm glad the 92 year old man who was "knocked over" "just got some cuts." Instead of breaking his hip, which would be life threatening to a 92 year old person.

If anyone can identify this park, which is apparently in District 8, I'd like to thank the Police Captain for responding to this incident appropriately.

2. How blithely the writer passes over the injury. What that dog dog owner did is an example of "bad behavior" to be prevented. I will write to the Captain also.

3. The problem of off leash dogs in San Francisco has mushroomed to way beyond what it has previously been. (So much for those of you who didn't want to rock the boat by demanding that the leash laws be enforced because you thought the momentum was on our side.) I see numerous illegally off leash dogs every day on city streets, and I only walk from home to the 24th St. BART station and back once/day. The yuppies and rich people who invaded the City during the dot com boom and afterward have taken an attitude of entitlement regarding their dogs, i.e., they're entitled to do whatever they want, the rest of the planet be damned. I'll say it again folks, if we don't take a no-compomise, hard line attitude, we're doomed to failure

4. I have always thought a Quality of Life issue should be put on the ballot to remind the City to enforce those could be: 1. All litter including dog poop and 2.Off leash animals in parks and on our streets. I mean the laws are there and they have been for over 100 years. A ballot measure could be like one of those advisory things the Board of Supervisors is so good at putting on the ballot. Just to remind everyone of those laws, put it on when we have the next Mayoral election. With regard to the latest incident, I don't know what park it was, but my guess is that it could have been Noe Courts on 24th and Douglass. There is always a dog issue there and has been for 20 years. (Never mind they have the dog park at Upper Noe and the entire field at Upper Douglass Playground, sorry, don't mean to sound bitter....but I am, particularly when I hear about a story like the 92 year old man getting knocked down.)

5. This is a "city" attitude, from the Mayor's Office on down. I'm glad this man went right to the top. And I guess there was an OK given to the Police to take a strong stance. I plan to cc my comments to the Mayor, when I find out which Station is to be given credit ( anyone know?)

Dogs are allowed everywhere- in stores, with no thought to fleas and occasional "accidents", let alone the discomfort of having to share an aisle with an animal. Out of town friends always comment- with some mild disapproval- at the dogs everywhere. But, they are a strong group-- how much was donated to build the just- opened SPCA Surgery Hospital?

I'm hoping that with leaner times, there will be some common sense in picking smaller and fewer animals. because, even though I will raise my voice, I don't think it will count for much.

6. > This is a "city" attitude, from the Mayor's Office on down.

Yes, this definitively summarizes the problem.

This issue cannot be won on political grounds; the numbers are heavily in favor of the off-leash "no activity that benefits us is too self-indulgent" hordes. All the posturing in the world on this list will fail to shift this; City officials -- elected or civil servants -- will *always* respond to the numbers.

The *only* chance of changing things will lie in high-profile,exceedingly- expensive- to-the-City lawsuits by people injured by such off-leash offenders. Brent, in addition to posting news stories like this, you need to go to court on a frequent basis. Otherwise, this is issue just devolves into a mere cluster-fsck.

7. The point of a ballot measure is to wake up the populace and the politicians. People don't like the so-called little unpleasantrees of life in the City...but they put up with them. The politicians don't care unless they hear that YES, people don't really like litter even if their friends litter or no one picks up the stuff that falls out of the recycle trucks and they just step over it or on it. And YES, people don't like dog poop on their sidewalks even if their sister or neighbor doesn't pick it up but they especially don't like it when they accidentally step in it even if it is once every five years. And YES, people don't like to have an off leash dog invade their space and smell them or a dog's snout invade their child's carriage or play time at a park or their bag or groceries and be told "my dog is friendly". It is all about improving quality of life and improving civic attitude. Doing something small to make life better in the City. Creating awareness and a sense of common concern for these issues. If the majority of the voters/turnout would vote against this type of quality of life measure then you know for sure that it is really hopeless, but otherwise maybe there is not really much chance to convince the politicians. You'd have to hope for most people in San Francisco to have common sense and pass a measure like this because they would desire a small measure of improvement in their civic life. Call it the Civility for Civic Life Measure. It would take 10,000+ signatures to get it on the ballot, I guess. Here is an anecdote: The day after the Inaugural I was on 24th Street at 7:00 AM buying a NY Times for posterity. A woman in her late 20's was buying one too, because she missed getting a NYTimes after Obama won the nomination. She had her dog, a big dog, on the leash and had to deal with an off leash dog that was even bigger than hers, whose "guardian" was a half a block away. She was upset, because she knew her dog couldn't deal with this off leash dog. The guy who owned the off leash dog was pissed when we asked him from a half a block away to call his dog back. These people, like the really responsible owner of the dog on the leash would vote with us if they had a chance and the p.r. for a measure like this was extensive. Plus all the other people who are silently enduring the stuff that we rant about on this leashlaw. Quality of life: No Litter including dog poop, and No off-leash dogs on streets and in parks. Maybe even include red-light runners. Make a statement about the supposedly unenforceable laws that every individual should be resposible to obey in a civilized society and a civilized city, even in an economic downturn. If it fails, then we can give up.

8. I thought it was revealing that the dog walker referred to "unofficial off-leash areas" as if they were somehow legal merely because they were squatted and taken over by doggers, who bullied everyone else out of the park, and that there were only "2 to 5 dogs" there usually, though the most she's seen is a mere ten(!), along with the fact that the 92 year-old's injury was somehow beside the point. Also as revealing is the fact that she says she wishes officers would only issue citations for bad behavior. I've got news for this broad -- bringing dogs into illegal areas IS bad behavior. If the dogs attack, the owners should pay legal fees in the thousands, with sharp incremental increases depending on the injury. If you injure someone by irresponsible driving, no one thinks that's over-the-top -- your butt is liable. Why not with dogs? Only self-entitled, delusional and sociopathic people can justify that a dog's attack on anyone, let alone a 92 year-old man, is trivial. Would they say it was trivial if some irresponsible driver ran a STOP sign because they were too special to obey the law (as these doggers seem to think they are) and ran over their dog? You can bet the whining about irresponsible drivers and law breakers from these doggers would be heard for miles.

9. What I notice is that many dog owners do leash their pets for street crossing, ie, they recognize that the dogs need leads and restraint if they want to protect their pets from possible harm. They are not so concerned in situations when other than their pets are at risk.

I think any threat to the current lax situation would not be passively accepted by the Off Leash folks. There might even be a counter measure-- something like a Bill of Rights for ALL Animals in The City of Saint Francis,, equating them in many ways with humans, there would be lots of money and there would be all the extreme folks working double time. The folks that want to close the Zoo would join them.The Chronicle would come down on their side, and most politicos would take no stand. Not to mention the personal attacks. I'm stressed already!

10. "If you injure someone by irresponsible driving, no one thinks that's over-the-top -- your butt is liable. Why not with dogs?"

In California, you are "strictly liable" for any harm your dog does to another person or a person's property in civil court. That means that the only issues are whether the dog did it and whether it's your dog. Why the dog did it or how much care the owner supposedly took is irrelevant. Unfortunately, this does not apply to criminal court, but you certainly may sue someone whose dog harmed you.

11. More from the same mentality:

Posted by: " nancy s" sftrillian42@ sbcglobal. net nancyopus

Mon Feb 2, 2009 11:28 pm (PST)

Hi All,

The GGNRA is stepping up enforcement for off leash dogs. Ocean Beach is legal for off leash dogs from Stairwell 21 north to the Cliff House. Plover area is south of Stairwell 21 to Sloat and is restricted to on leash dogs only. If any Park Rangers or Park Police try to tell you different you have the right to ask for their Badge # if they refuse I suggest you take a picture of them. Get witnesses if you can. Make a note of the date and time. Call the following numbers to protest the attitude of the officers or better put it in writing too. Head of the Park Police Lt. Connie Leonard 561-5170 and Head Ranger Yvette Ruan 561-4745. If officers are lying or otherwise acting unprofessionally it can be considered an "abuse of power" and you can complain to the U.S. Attorneys Office. A person in Marin who was being harassed used this method successfully. The most important part is the person who interacted with the officer must do this. Anyone else is not considered seriously because it then becomes an unsubstantiated claim.

Take Action and attend the next meeting of the Ocean Beach Vision Council sometime in March. Will keep you posted about the date.


12. It has been my observation that unpleasant and often abusive confrontation had long been the cornerstone of the dog apologist coalitions. Having said that, I will
grudgingly admit that is has also been a very effective tactic.

13. I wasn't talking about the law; I was talking about the way the scofflaws regard and response to leash laws. And though you could certainly sue someone whose dog has attacked you, you'd have a hard time finding someone to back you up if that attack occurred in an area whereseveral off leashers were running their dogs. These folks stick together. As we know, and as the off-leashers also know, it's all about enforcement. Traffic violations are enforced; leash law violations are not.

14. "Ocean Beach is legal for off leash dogs from Stairwell 21 north to the Cliff House."

Another defeat. The entirety of Ocean Beach used to be off limits to off leash dogs. Plovers are not the only birds disturbed by dogs. Shorebirds are mostly missing from Ocean Beach due to dogs, the latter of which should not be allowed there at all. Beaches are no place for dogs!

* * *
Someone's been letting his or her dog use baby section of Carroll Park as a bathroom. Of course, we don't know whether the dog was off-leash, but the problem, and the seeming excuse that "maybe there's no nearby dog run", are part of the same mentality:


onecoatsam said...

If United States Park Police were sent for enforcement (or other) purposes to a City park, they clearly had no jurisdiction to do anyone, other than perhaps visit the park. This should indeed be reported to City officials along with a cease and desist demand. I know Park Police have harassed dog owners in Washington Square, and have personally told them to "piss off" because they have no jurisdiction to do so. One form of relief available is to sue. Of course, what we really need City residents to do is sue for reversion of the lands deeded to the GGNRA. Even if that means turning the lands over to Park and Wreck, there will at least be some accountability. Stand up for your rights and do not allow these federal despots (and City twerpts) to run roughshod over your rights.

Steve Sayad

credo-ny said...

Mr. Sayad, while we're not really familiar with the situation on the West Coast, we'd be curious about any legal authority (such as a statute or judicial case) you have for the proposition you seem to advance that federal officials have no jurisdiction to enforce federal law in a city park.