Parks currently has rules to keep dogs on leash and keep all dogs out of certain areas such as beaches and playlots. These rules are routinely violated.
People who have dogs off leash in Parks are generally aware of the rules and ignore signage.
Off leash dogs are frequently off trail damaging and destroying vegetation, compacting soil, denuding slopes and impacting wildlife.
Off leash dogs widen trails and create informal trails fragmenting natural areas encroaching into wildlife habitat, stressing wildlife and reducing wildlife population.
As off leash dogs increase in number, lawn and trail use by other patrons decreases until perceived as de facto off leash areas.
Humans and dogs are increasing in population and hence encroachment into and impact on natural areas and accompanying natural life communities are increasing.
While Parks is flooded with off leash dog and off leash dog owner complaints, Parks has stories but no comprehensive studies on overall impact of off leash dogs.
Off leash areas do not direct off leash dogs, but only create overspill with accompanying issue mentioned above, and it is the responsibility of Parks superintendent to monitor impacts of off leash areas and to close them when negative impacts are determined.
It is the responsibility of Parks to ensure the comfort and safety of all patrons and to take good care of facilities and natural areas including vegetation and wildlife.
We propose that
Park’s conduct a thorough study of off leash dogs’ impact on parks patrons’ social comfort and deterred use, natural area vegetation and moss communities, soil compaction and chemistry, slopes especially with homes above, and wildlife including birds, reptiles, mammals and insects.
Park’s superintendent direct a thorough review of impact of designated off leash areas, and determination as to need for further environmental impact study.
Parks study the financial and environmental cost, graphing projected cost of off leash dogs with and without shift in Parks strategy (i.e. at current rate of increase versus reducing off leash dogs)
In lieu of considering adding more designated off leash areas, shift paradigm and strategy to off leash rule enforcement and increase the amount of natural area wildlife habitat acreage.
Parks hire a wildlife biologist to monitor and advocate for wildlife and their habitat through environmental intervention and administrative input on rules and patron use.
Study separating Parks into two: recreation facilities and natural areas, with a separate specialized staff structure for each.
Parks enforce its existing rules by:
-Requiring all staff to ask off leash dog owners to leash their dog every time they see an off leash dog, and where a name or license plate is known report off leash dog owners to animal control.
-Hire as many Park Rangers as needed to immediately respond to reports of off leash dogs, and to collaborate with Animal Control in authorizing Park Rangers to write tickets for off leash dogs.
-Animal Control and Park Rangers issue no verbal warnings for off leash dogs, only write tickets.
-Tracking both violations and rule compliance.