Proposed rule aims to ban unleashed dogs in parts of Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The fight over leash laws at Bay Area national parks is heating up again as a petition circulates to persuade federal officials to lay off the leashes.

At issue is whether or not emails sent by a former park service employee had undue influence when it comes to where people can walk their dogs.

RELATED: Debate heats up over off-leash dog rules on park land

More than 40,000 people signed the petition urging Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to stop a dog management plan that would severely restrict access to dogs at Golden Gate National Recreation Areas in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties.

"People love to walk their dogs in open spaces, and the rules are ridiculously prohibitive, and there's just no need for it," Crissy Field Dog Group Co-Founder and Chair, Martha Walters said.

Walters helped found the Crissy Field Dog Group, and has been fighting against the dog walking restrictions for years.

"Most people live in apartments. They don't have a lot of green space, don't have a lot of backyards, so Crissy Field is a natural place to bring their dog," Walters said.

Dogs are allowed on or off leash at East Beach, but under the National Park Service's proposal, no dogs would be allowed.

West Beach already has seasonal dog restrictions, but in order to further protect wildlife, the park service would like to shut it down to dogs year round.

The grassy airfield is available to dogs on or off leash, but under the proposal the majority of the field would only be for dogs on-leash or "under voice control."

Central Beach would be the only part of Crissy Field that would remain accessible to dogs off-leash.

"I really think that we could probably use our resources better than to police dogs in our neighborhoods," dog owner Ana Rubke said.

The national park service is reviewing just how fair their own dog planning

Process is after several bay area dog advocacy groups sued the government for records, which show a park service official used a private email account to influence the rule making process.

In a statement Monday, Congresswoman Jackie Speier said, "NPS employees appeared to show bias and acted improperly in advising the anti-dog-walking side of this issue."

Click here for the online petition.
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