For many years the GGNRA has illicitly permitted off-leash dog walking in many locations. When park visitorship and the number of dogs were low, this had little impact. But today the GGNRA receives millions of visitors annually and San Francisco purportedly now has more dogs than kids. This has led to increasing numbers of negative impacts in the park: dogs are being lost, injured, and killed; people and horses are being bitten and attacked; endangered wildlife are put at risk; and it has even impacted the diversity of the GGNRA’s users.
The GGNRA’s ad hoc off-leash policy is no longer tenable. The GGNRA is currently reviewing comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that discusses pet management in the Park. The outcome of this environmental impact assessment process will dictate how the park is managed for many years.
We all love our dogs. The question facing us all is whether we love each other enough to recognize that how we recreate with our dogs at the GGNRA has impacts on other people and other forms of life. The Wild Equity Institute believes that the GGNRA has not struck a proper balance with its draft document, because it fails to ensure that off-leash dogs remain safe in the park.
The best way to ensure dogs remain safe while roaming off-leash is to ensure that any off-leash area is enclosed with a physical boundary. These boundaries could be post-and-cable fences or natural features. But if a physical boundary cannot be placed around a specific off-leash area, than that area should not be an official off-leash area: it is simply too risky for our dogs.
The following Frequently Asked Questions discusses the GGNRA’s proposal and the Wild Equity Institute’s position on pet management at the GGNRA. It is based on documents created by Golden Gate Audubon Society, the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, the California Native Plant Society’s Yerba Buena Chapter, Nature in the City, the National Parks Conservation Association, San Francisco Tomorrow, and the Wild Equity Institute. You can download hard copies of these documents here.