Dog owners divided over proposed leash rule

May 30, 2011 7:26:33 PM PDT
Dogs run free in the water and on the trails here at Crissy Field, which is just fine by dog owner Steve Heiman.

"It's a great spot for dogs to play because you've got the beach, you've got the pathways, you've got a giant field in Crissy Field," said Heiman.

Heiman's among those who are upset that the National Park Service wants to require leashes for dogs across much of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

"It allows dogs to get the exercise they need," says dog owner Joey Stevenson. "When they're urban dogs, they don't have a lot of space to run free."

Dog owners have been vocal and organized in opposing the measure. Leading that opposition: San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, who says taking on the new leash rule has been sort of a pet project.

Wiener's organized public forums and has drafted a resolution opposing a restriction that he says goes too far.

"Something like an 80 or 90 percent reduction in the area where people can walk their dogs off leash...it's unreasonable," said Wiener.

The National Park Service says its reasons are simple: to balance the enjoyment of dog lovers with those who may not love dogs so much. One woman who spent much of her life breeding them thinks the restrictions are a good idea.

"It's a safety hazard," said Judy Rotunda. "It's something that needs to be a responsibility of a pet owner."

Rotunda's friend Dona Spaugh knows that first hand.

"I've had to scoop my dog up because of a dog that is being aggressive and coming our way that's not leashed," said Spaugh.

Speaking of scooping: One man says some dog owners don't. That's why he favors the new restriction.

"When the dog poops, they cover it with sand and they just leave everything in there," he said.


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