Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beginning to See the Light in San Francisco; Crackdown--On Bycllists--in Prospect Park

Under the headline, "As Dog Population Grows, a City Crackdown Looms
New rules could put dogs on a tighter leash in San Francisco", an article in the Dec. 8 San Francisco Bay Citizen observes:

Proposals are expected to move forward in 2012 for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area — national park land within the city that includes Crissy Field, Fort Funston and Ocean Beach — that would greatly reduce off-leash play areas, because of dogs’ impact on natural habitats and species.

A similar plan by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to protect “natural areas” in city parks is also moving ahead, which could reduce existing off-leash dog play acreage by 14 percent or more.

. . .

An estimated one-third of San Francisco households now have dogs, which means two-thirds of households don’t. By all accounts, the city is undergoing a period of adjustment as it tries to accommodate both groups.

“What happens with social change is that you experience a backlash,” said Sally Stephens, chairwoman of San Francisco Dog Owners Group, a nonprofit organization that advocates for responsible dog ownership. “There are people who don’t understand the place that dogs have in our community.”

Stephens said that because so many San Francisco residents are new arrivals, and often single, dogs had become a powerful bonding force for people who might otherwise be lonely. “The dog park is an amazing way to connect with people,” she said.

Stephens acknowledged that some dogs were mishandled.

When I recounted a recent incident I saw of a dog eating food off shelves in Safeway as its owner idly watched, she agreed that such episodes had been a source of animosity toward dogs. However, she considered these problems rare.

But many of the impending conflicts, especially those involving parks, show that the increase in dog ownership has clashed with one of the city’s most highly prized tenets: appreciation for the natural environment. Efforts to preserve indigenous habitats and species go back decades, predating the current dog craze.

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Cops in Brooklyn's 78th Precinct have begun ticketing scofflaw bicyclists who endanger other park users by running red lights. So, after all, they know how to write tickets. Why don't they ticket scofflaw dog owners who endanger other park users and damage park property by letting their pets run wild illegally?

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