SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – Passionate Bay Area dog owners and the National Park Service continue to bicker over planned leash restrictions in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The parkland covers large swaths of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Up until now, many areas had no problem with people letting their dogs run off leash.

But as time has passed, National Park spokesman Howard Levitt said potential problems have arisen.

“We’ve found that there’s been an increase in the number of conflicts: dog vs. dog, dog vs. horse, dog vs. bike,” said Levitt.

He said there has also been damage to the area’s natural habitat, including the fact that dogs have been harassing endangered species. All of this led the National Park Service to come up with a draft plan that would severely limit where people can let their dogs off leash.

Levitt does point out that the plan in its current form leaves seven selected locations throughout the GGNRA where dogs can roam free, while no other park in the National Park Service system even allows one.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Corola is a longtime dog lover and said the potential rules simply don’t make sense.

“It’s like with anything. There’s always going to be somebody. There’s bad drivers, bad parents, there’s irresponsible people all over the place,” she said.

Sally Stephens is the chair of the nonprofit San Francisco Dog Owners Group and said the National Park Service is not taking into account the scope of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

“They’re treating the GGNRA as if it was Yellowstone, as if it was a pristine wilderness in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “This is an urban recreational area. That’s why it was developed and created.”

The National Park Service has scheduled a public meeting for Monday at Fort Mason and a final one will be held on Wednesday in Pacifica. The deadline for public comments on the draft plan has been extended until late May.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (79)
  1. Bloodhounds says:

    Just one more reason to get out of SF.

    1. Dave says:

      I love dogs but, they should be on a lease in public. San Francisco

      1. JackHammer says:

        I agree. They should have at least a one year lease and probably a leash would be good also.

    2. Dieter says:

      Yes, we can have a philosophical discussion about animal rights. But that’s not the issue here. No one is stopping dogs from getting exercise in their designated areas. Moreover, the number of dogs out and about in places like Crissy Field clearly outnumber the little children, nor do children generate the fecal and other waste that dogs do. Also, there are people who have unfortunate histories and personal encounters with dogs and they fear them, and having loose-running dogs approaching people is sometimes harrowing to people. I am not fearful of dogs, but I also don’t appreciate them running up to me, sniffing me, and sometimes slobbering or shaking their wet coats on me. Even so, I have no problem with people taking their dogs into these areas, so long as they are leashed when required by ordinance or law. Finally, no matter how much space is provided for “dog lovers” to let their darlings roam and run unleashed, too many will still disregard the law and permit their animals to run around without proper restraint.

  2. a parent says:

    all it takes is 1 child to get bit then it’s a little too late.

    1. Dogs Count Too! says:

      That dog walker is using the park like it is intended to be used–by God’s creatures! It’s not just about the dog walkers–it’s about those dogs getting exercise and staying healthy! They count too.

  3. Terry says:

    The picture says it all — a woman walking seven dogs. Are my taxes supposed to pay for a national park just so professional dog walkers will have a place to do business? People must remember that the main purpose or mission of the national park system is to preserve nature. Wildlife must take priority over domestic animals, pure and simple. Dog owners must remember that not all of us love dogs and we do not want to be constantly harrassed by your dog. Keep them on a leash or stay out of the national parks.

    1. Rich says:

      First of all, professional dog walkers comprise maybe 2% of those who exercise their dogs there. Second, in this economy a lot of people are resorting to all manner of second and third jobs to make ends meet. So what skin is it off your nose? Your “taxes” are going to be paid regardless.

      I’m all for preserving the environment. Believe me, the dogs I see there are not harming the environment. And if the occasional “conflict” occurs, well that can happen anywhere–not just in park lands. Unless you want to ban dogs everywhere, it’s a fact of life. Get over it. Life is nothing but an assortment of risks, large and small. Unleashed dogs on a beach presents about a 1% risk factor. Go ahead, overreact. San Franciscans and Americans in general are really good at it.

      Come up with a better argument. Your bitterness is showing.

      1. Dogs Count Too! says:

        Well said! Thank you!

    2. chris says:

      Hey, remember not everyone loves kids. I don’t need to be hararssed by screaming, unruly children. That’s why I go to dog parks. If you want me leash my dog then keep your stupid kids leashed too then.

  4. Roger says:

    I see humans doing far more damage at parks than dogs, such as trampling through the brush & breaking off branches for fires, I see that all the time.

    1. Dog Lover says:

      Dog owners have to get it drilled into their head that not only do their dogs not behave properly (going up to someone and sniffing them or even running towards a person is not acceptable) but people have rights not dogs. My wife and sister in law were bit by dogs and panic when one comes near them no matter the size. One attack was in Campbell the other in Korea. Keep them on a leach and do not sneak you “well behaved, never bothered anyone” dog on a leach where they belond and there will be no problems with me.

      1. chris says:

        So what you’re saying is that you haven’t had a problem anywhere in the GGNRA? Just in Korea and Campbell.

        hmmmm. Clearly you’re not a dog person. That’s fine. What is being discussed here is places that are already designated dog areas. Places you wouldn’t want to go anyway so why do you care?

  5. Susan Adams says:

    Let us all remember the land GGNRA is entrusted with is NOT a national park. It is a National Urban Recreation Area, and as such has as a main purpose to provide recreational space for all its citizens. The off dog leash area is less than 1% in the GGNRA. Is that too much to ask for the 100,000 dogs that live in San Francisco? A well exercised dog is a calm dog. I’m sure you all want the dogs in your neighborhood to be calm and well-behaved.

  6. Scout Mandilk says:

    Leash dogs. I do, and hate it when handler’s think they can run their dosg loose. Mine consider every loose dog a threat, and for good reason. They get a bite and the fight is on. They NEVER forget.

  7. McD says:

    Just grow up and use the leashes……nothing more exciting than running through the grass and finding a dog rocket squishing up between your toes….smells great too……..LEASH THEM OR LEAVE THEM HOME………

  8. Hastings Shade says:

    Sounds like you have some poorly trained dogs on your hands

  9. Suzie Castle says:

    I support the National Park Service’s ban on off-leash dogs. The National Park Service is not a dog park, but rather a park paid for by Americans for all Americans and it should be able to protect wildlife. I love dogs, but they should not be able to be off-leash in a National Park or Reacreational Area. People should be able to access our National Recreational Areas without dogs running loose. Dog guardians should seek off-leash, dog park access from their local city.

    1. Dogs Count Too! says:

      There is no evidence of dogs ‘harassing’ wildlife. Does are part of the animal kingdom too, and deserve a place to run free like other animals. These parks ARE for all Americans. There is no reason why you can’t go there. The dogs ‘running loose’ aren’t hurting anyone. San Francisco IS our local city.

    2. Christopher Cendak says:

      Hey, Jack ass, we’re not talking about the GGNRA as an off leash dog park. We’re talking about the already designated off leash areas which compromises a small portion of the area. Keep your unruly, loud and obnoxious kids on a leash too!

  10. mark says:

    I’m taking my dog down there to harass some endangered species.

  11. Bruce says:

    Grow up & put your freekin’ dog on a leash. If you want it to run free, get your own land — don’t expect the rest of us to subsidize you.

    1. Rich says:

      “Subsidize”? What a joke. Is it “your” land? I must have missed that memo.

    2. Joe says:

      Can’t we all get along?

  12. jamie says:

    If your dog is under 25 pounds it should be exempt!! Marley loves to run free.

    1. Tiger Johnson says:

      I agree, I’m sick of this too. LEASH YOUR DOG! Let everyone enjoy the park, without being greeted by your slobering stinking dog or your big-headed rat looking pit-bull that you keep swearing doesn’t bite. See… just an example – WE DON’T ALL LOVE DOGS LIKE YOU, so keep them on a leash or away from the general population please… Thank you! (smiley face).

      1. Francis says:

        We don’t all love children. Maybe we should leash them too! Especially when they trow all their trash around and their irresponsible parents don’t pick it up.
        Then, it will be fair to EVERYONE.

  13. Bazerkly says:

    Keep the dogs and BAN the idiots on Bicycles!

    1. Robert O says:

      A comment by a person with minimal critical thinking skills. Cyclists have as much rights as dogs,

      1. Rich says:

        I think it was called “tongue in cheek.” Who’s the one who lacks thinking skills? Bazerkly’s point was right on. Some like dogs. Some like bikes. Some like to run. Some like to walk. Some have nice kids. Some have obnoxious kids.

        The moralistic/judgmental crowd needs to get off its high horse and realize we all offend each other in some way or another. That’s why it’s called “getting along.”

    2. Rich says:

      I think it was called “tongue in cheek.” Who’s the one who lacks thinking skills? Bazerkly’s point was right on. Some like dogs. Some like bikes. Some like to run. Some like to walk. Some have nice kids. Some have obnoxious kids.

      The moralistic/judgmental crowd needs to get off its high horse and realize we all offend each other in some way or another. That’s why it’s called “getting along.”

  14. Robert O says:

    I have a small breed and he is always on a leash. I am so pleased to hear about the new leash rules for all dogs. It gives me the satisfaction, all dogs will be controlled via a leash. I have been attacked by larger dogs because owners have let their dogs run freely. Vet bills are not cheap! Thank you, GGNRA.

  15. Raleigh says:

    Keep your dog leased or leave it at home.Plain and simple!!!! I have been a responsible dog owner for 70 years and no problems when I follow the rules that are meant for all of us with pets. If mine are no exception to the rule why should your’s be.

  16. tommy says:

    why not make penalties for infractions such as harassing wildlife, horses and dog fighting more severe? discourage those who ruin it for those of us that enjoy the current situation. btw, there is nothing about walking with your dog off leash, so stop the condescension.

  17. tommy says:

    meant to say, there is nothing childish about walking your dog off leash.

  18. arryana says:

    Wow. Haven’t -any- of these people had the pleasure of a well trained dog that doesn’t need to be tethered to behave? As a former San Franciscan, my german shepherd mixes spent years having a wonderful time running with their canine buddies at Crissy field. No small children were ever bitten, no dog fights erupted, and everyone (more or less) cleaned up any mess created by anyone’s dog.

    From where I sit, they haven’t done anyone a favor, they’ve taken away one of the last bastions of communal social responsibility. Way to legislate the fun out of even a dog’s life…

    1. skullbuster says:

      and another less trained dog bit and cause harm to a child? Ever heard of it? You may be lucky and responsible, but others may not. Even well trained, these dogs can be viscous at times, and even cause harm to their owners. The truth is the majority of SFcans don’t care to own dogs, and hate to see dog poops all over the places..

      1. arryana says:

        You seem to be missing the point. There are any number of places in San Francisco where one can walk a dog on a leash. This issue is discussing the loss of a few areas which were wonderful fun. I get that you’re a dog-hater and a general busybody-killjoy, but perhaps you could widen your world view to allow other people the right to a good time other than what’s in your clearly limited comfort zone.. Nobody’s making you go to a free-range dog park (and no doubt you’ve never been there anyway, and are merely venting your spleen). Share the world with the rest of us, chief.

    2. SsS says:

      Communal social responsibility means protecting others from your dog by putting him on a leash. If you want him to roam free, put him in your backyard. Also, your nasty responses to everyone that disagrees with you really isn’t helping your argument.

  19. jean says:

    It seems to be the culture for dog owners to bring their dogs everywhere, whether leashed or not. I can understand why the GGNRA wants dogs leased. It’s not to punish dogs or dog owners but to allow dog owners control over their pets and give dog owners the opportunity to protect their pets, especially if there is a dog that is not as well disciplined as yours.

    I’ve seen dog owners bring all sizes of dogs into places of business that are not pet stores, such as grocery and drug stores, and some even into restaurants. (These are not service dogs either.) Many business owners are afraid to ask the owner to keep their dogs outside because the owners become belligerent. It’s a very uncomfortable situation. I’ve seen dog owners even bring their dogs into hospitals.

    There are places that are appropriate for dogs and there are some that are not.

    Dog owners need to understand that there are people who are highly allergic to pets in general and who are also very afraid of dogs. Yes, your dog may be very well disciplined but how can you control someone’s allergies?

    Please be considerate of others by keeping your dogs leased in public areas and leave your dogs outside when grocery shopping or going to a restaurant or hospital.

    1. Dogs Count Too! says:

      Let’s keep the facts straight: we are talking about dogs being allowed to be off-leash, with their owners, in designated parks–not whether dogs should be allowed in hospitals and restaurants.

    2. SsS says:

      Very good point. I met a young Muslim woman at a convenience store a while back and I was working at the SPCA at the time, so I said something like, “you should come by some time, we have a lot of nice dogs available.” She replied “Oh, no I cannot have dogs b/c of my religion and besides I am very afraid of them”. She was very nice about it though and I really appreciated her cluing me in to something I had not been aware of before. So I said “maybe a kitten then” and we had a laugh. Dog people need to remember that not everyone is ok with dogs, and in my opinion keeping them leashed when in public (yes, even in parks) shows a healthy concern for others and is just good common sense.

  20. doggy'saren'tpeopletoo says:

    Sorry dog owners, but you’re not 1st class citizens or “Special” people just cause you own dogs, why should my tax dollars go to help you with a lifestyle choice. The parks service are there to preserve nature, dogs can impact that when running off a leash. I frequently go to Manressa or other beaches on the coast and people take their dogs off the leashes all the time, it’s incredibly annoying when some wet, sandy mutt comes running up or tramples over your camp call cause the owners can’t keep control of their animals. If you don’t like it, buy a house with tons of land or go move to the country.

    1. dogsoverkids says:

      Sorry but by your own notion, why should anyone in a community who has no interest, or in some instances cannot have children, pay for schools that are devoted soley to educating your ‘special’ child? Because you decided ‘hey, i’m so perfect the world needs mroe of me’ despite ridiculous overpopulation and so many bad, disengaged or overengaged parents. Is not having a child or a pack of them a lifestyle choice as well? There are bad dog owners just like bad parents. Until you face this reality, you’re just a bunch of hypocrites IMHO.

  21. BernalDude says:

    If everyone here would simply take a moment to file a FORMAL comment something might actually get done. How to comment:
    The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dog Management will be available for review and comment for 90 days – January 14 through April 14, 2011.

    Comments may be submitted:
    Online at

    1. BernalDude says:

      I guess I should mention that I fully support leash laws. i know YOUR dog is a good dog that always listens, but not every dog is like this. There is no reason for dogs NOT to be on a leash. Some of the leashes are 30 feet long.

  22. skullbuster says:

    Get your dogs on the leash or keep them at home. Everyone has his or her “rights”, and now even dogs? It may be a cool thing to have a dog, but I don’t want my children to be attacked by one of these animals. Some of you dog-lovers should try to help the poor or do some volunteer work for a change.

    1. Dogs Count Too! says:

      It’s not about being “cool,” Skullbuster (is that name indicative of your parenting, poor-helping, volunteering philosophy?). It’s about respecting dogs as creatures of this earth too. Some choose to reproduce like you, and some choose to have dogs. Humans aren’t doing such a good job of keeping a peaceful, safe world. Providing designated park areas for dogs to be off leash for a change, with their owners, who pick up the dog poop, is a safe way to allow everyone to use the parks.

      1. skullbuster says:

        Can’t take the comment, and now on the personal attack? More love for dogs and people huh? Animals are animals, regardless of how well trained they are. I am making the comment because I have been to the park, and while the dogs running free, and almost attacked one of my kids, the owner is still half a block away…. Grow up. Maybe only a few dogs would bite, but that is one to o many!

  23. CHARLES says:

    I have beeen a dog owner for many years.

  24. JM says:

    Having specific designated areas where people let their dogs off leash to exercise makes sensce. Dogs have a proven benefit to the health and well-being of many, especially senior citizens, by providing them with companionship and support. However, dogs, being dogs, need areas to exercise…and many seniors are unable to run their dogs on leash. Why does it need to be all or nothing? Why can’t 1 percent of the GGNRA be available to those responsible TAXPAYERS and dog owners to exercise there dogs and enjoy nature at the same time.
    By the way, skullbuster (nice name) do volunteer and “help the poor”, do you?

    1. doggy'saren'tpeopletoo says:

      I’ve got a better idea, how about ALL the dog owners that want this piece of land because dogs “Need areas to exercise” pool their resources together, buy some land, maintain it, pay for it, pay the taxes/fees, put up a fence, require membership…etc., etc., etc.? I think that’s very reasonable.. No?

      OR, since dog owners are required to register their animals by city, THEY pay an enhanced tax to subsidize all these extra monies?? I think that’s a splendid idea.. No?

      Oh wait, well, we all have to pay for it cause dogs bring “Well being to many”???

      See, this is where I draw the line, personal choice of pet ownership cannot affect the greater public, especially financially. It’s a choice, not a requirement.

      1. Rina says:

        Dog owners are the same tax payer as you are. I am from Boston and we have a “green project”- in some of the towns. We pay the annual fee per dog to use the park. I do have 2 dogs that need serious exercise. If you are bothered by irresponsible owners who do not pick up after their dogs, these owners should be fined. Dogs are social animals and they need to interact the better it is socialized the more harmless it is. we are not having dogs to use them as a weapon but for our physical and emotional health

  25. h says:

    I have a pit bull he is on the leash at all times. I am tired of people letting their little squirrel/rat/weasels run around loose while my dog wants to shake his legs off. Then the owner the wants to stand and stare at my dog. My dog is on a leash , Keep your rat in your pocket, With those little legs they can get all the exercise they need running around the living room loose.

  26. a dog says:

    …get a f***ing life you people!

  27. fdpolar says:

    What a mentality you have Mark. People like you are the problem.

  28. Eileen says:

    Kids don’t run up to strangers and jump on them. Dogs do. We have lots of laws in place because a few people can’t behave themselves, and this is another that has to happen. Dogs should be on leashes.

  29. Most of us says:

    In the afternoon the parks should be dog free. In the early morning, no more than two dogs on a leash.

  30. Joe says:

    Good im so glad something is being done about this problem. I am so sick of seeing these animals running around like 2 year olds on to much sugar, I was peting a nice cat the other night when some irresponsible dog owner though it would be ok to walk his dog without a leash because it was night. Well sure enough as soon as the dog looked at the cat here it comes running down the street towards me and the cat, the cat took off, i kicked the dog hard and it stoped for a second and the owner was able to grab him, i told the owner im calling animal control and he and the mutt took off. This is why dogs for no reason should ever be let off their leash in public, ever. And owners with small dogs need to start bringing their dogs into stores, my friend doesnt bring his three pit bulls into his local paint store so stop bringing your little dogs with you everywhere, not everyone thinks it cute.

    1. athenia says:

      While I love cats and agree with you on that issue, Never ever kick or hurt a dog! It sounds like you have an anger problem! and need some self control! you are much worse than the dog, and dogs owner!

  31. karen says:

    we need to ban little kids who are annoying and scream at the top of their lungs when they are in the park. the obnoxious little annoying brats. I let my dog run off his leesh all the time with no problems. dogs>little annoying bratty screaming children

  32. John Davis says:

    My kids are afraid of dogs and get harassed each an every time. The problem is that dog owners think that everyone loves dogs, unlike smokers who know that most people don’t like smoke. The problem comes down to enforcement of the leash laws. I don’t see leash laws being enforced now — and they should!!!

  33. dontneedhatemail says:

    Animals should NOT be entitled to any rights, just another animal. If the owners can control their animals then a police oficer should shoot them. I know alot of you educated smart people will have reason to complain so i even made an email.

    1. karen says:

      and a child is just another child.

    2. athenia says:

      who is going to protect us against you? you need some serious mental help! I guess this is fun for you, so you put up an email! sicko

  34. Albert says:

    I as a former San Francisco citizen would say that the Golden Gate National Recreation is not Yellow Stone Park where maybe a dog could run freely and relieve itself without any worrys of having to come along and step on a dog fecal landmine.
    As is the case with most other parts of San Francisco where dog owners have total disregard and dont pick up after their dogs mess, so many times I have unexpectedly steped on these dog mines, it’s time the city get tough on these derilects.

  35. pat says:

    I am a huge dog lover, and have two of my own (husky and golden retriever). I also work for a vet. Unless you are in a designated “dog park”, dogs should be kept leashed; not only for human safety, but for the safety of ALL of the dogs. Remember, not all dogs get along with others, and what may seem as a friendly “hello” by one dog my be percieved as a threat by another.

  36. Susan says:

    I agree with Pat. I have a Jack Russell Terrier who, if approached by a dog off-leash, MIGHT snap. Even if the other dog is usually friendly, if mine snaps, then yours might snap back…and if yours is bigger, would probably do some damage to my Jack.

  37. Bring back the dog catcher. says:

    When I was a kid, the Saturday morning cartoons often had a dog catcher who would put the dogs in a paddy wagon. They should bring that back, and fine the owner to get the dogs back.

    1. athenia says:

      That is very unkind! it is obvious you do not like animials! by the way, life is not a cartoon!

    2. athenia says:

      Life is not a cartoon! and your comment indicates someone who does not like animials

  38. Beverly Dahlen says:

    I have to admit I do not like dogs, but dog owners have a right to walk their dogs if they do so responsibly. But it makes me furious to see dogs off-leash in our parks. Birds and other wildlife have no chance against marauding dogs.

  39. Ray says:

    A true dog lover will keep dog(s) on a leach; I always have and no harm has come to my dog(s).. A dog on a leash is kept out of trouble, does not wander off, nor run in front of cars, etc.

  40. athenia says:

    There seems to be a certain type of person who thinks the rules do not apply to them! They seem to think that their dog is well trained, when they are not.I have had some really space cadet neighbors having their dogs run in the street, chasing cats, and pooping whereever! and this seems to be the rule of thumb for children! I love all animials! however there should be some responsibility as to cleaning up after them, and using a leash.If there is a official leash free area, I do not see a problem, as long as everybody knows this! I hope ther will be a compromise, so we can have a “dog day afternoon”

  41. karenrobert says:

    some great reasons to leash your dog:
    you’ll lose weight for running with your dog.
    become healthier, better looking, leaner, happier, and your dog will be happy too spending time with you.
    cut back on health care cost.
    cut back on US debts
    fewer dog fights
    fewer dog bite
    fewer fecal all over the place
    save money on fecal public cleaning.
    fewer dogs getting run over by cars bike etc.

    a win win situation for everyone. a great bonding time for you and your dog too

  42. BernalDude says:

    I live in Bernal Heights. The beautiful top of our hill is a legal off-leash area. Its a great idea.

    Unfortunately dog owners are either too lazy or too disrespectful to limit their off-leash dogs to the legal area. The other parks of Bernal, Precita Park in particular, have also become de facto off-leash parks. The signs are up telling owners to keep their dogs on leashes, but virtually no one complies with the law.

    This type of “the laws don;t apply to us”, or “the laws are stupid” attitude is what truly gets people upset. San Francisco has bicyclists who don’t follow traffic laws, pedestrians who think they are car-proof ( and walk into streets without looking) and drivers who drive like complete jerks.

    If everyone just followed the rules that are already in place, perhaps we would be able to figure out which ones actually work and which ones need to be changed. In the end our borderline anarchy is simply a childish, narcissistic way to live. In this specific case, because there is little evidence that dog owners will follow the rules, few believe that they will restrict themselves to the the 1% of GGNRA that is assigned for their use.

    If we all just stop being jerks to each other, this type of stuff would be easy to work out.

  43. doggy'saren'tpeopletoo says:

    @ Rina… I don’t see how owning two dogs is putting anything toward a “Green Project” if anything it’s increasing your carbon footprint, (sad reality, but true).

    Like I said, let dog owners pay their own way, in EVERY aspect! no taxpayer funds should be allocated to fund pet ownership (other than the humane society and having to deal with irresponsible owners).

  44. Jan Scott says:

    Watch Out – You May Be Next.
    The GGNRA’s real goal is to manage all of its lands as if they were wilderness areas and to eliminate recreation all together. Read their Overall Plan carefully and you will see that stated. People who own dogs and enjoy exercising them off-leash are being targeted now. As Howard Levitt said on the radio, “some people are just not comfortable around dogs”. Many people are not comfortable around chlidren either. Many of the behaviors people do not like in dogs — bothering birds, running around and disturbing people, making noise — are behaviors typical of children also. So expect to see more activities enjoyed by familes banned in the future. Fires have already been banned at Ocean Beach except on one small area making picnics kind of uncomfortable. Maybe next there will be no kite flying or sand castle building allowed since these activities might impact birds. If you think this is unrealistic, wait 10 years and see.