Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Service Animals in SF: Why is the Problem So Acute in the City of St. Francis?

Joe Eskenazi's article in the SF Weekly about abuse of the ADA in registering non-trained animals as service dogs raises more questions than answers.

It seems obvious that the common perception of a disabled individual is too limiting, and we must adjust the ADA in ways that can accommodate those with non-physical limitations.

But it also seems obvious that we must require stringent regulations on the animal--not the person--to prove that the animal is trained to provide some service without impacting others unduly. Even if that service is simply to sit there and look cute in a calming, reassuring way. Absent this regulation, we will impose on society more than we need to for this service, and people who already have a reason to not want dogs around--because they are allergic, or they are fearful, or just mean--will take action to limit access to all service animals.

But what isn't addressed at all, and is less obvious, is why in San Francisco, compared to all other cities mentioned in the article, has such a problem with abuse of the ADA registration process. According to Eskenazi:
San Francisco's tally of 500 service tags issued in 2008 dwarfs other California totals: San Diego, with nearly three times the inhabitants, issued only 352; Los Angeles, almost four times bigger, a scant 96.
So why is it in San Francisco we have so many service tags issued? Perhaps we have more people who are deserving of these tags, as the Bay Area is the birthplace of the disability rights movement. Perhaps our dogs are better trained--although this is belied by the statements from guide dog users in Eskenazi's article.

It seems likely it is a cultural issue around dogs, not the disabled. The SFSPCA, SF DOG, and the other self-appointed leaders of dog advocacy in San Francisco always take the self-centered approach to their dogs. After all, it is their right, as dog guardians, to do whatever they wish with the animal, wherever they please, or the dog's well being will suffer: or so the philosophy goes. Because of their general policy against any restrictions on dog access anywhere, they have perpetuated a culture where it is acceptable to game the disabled access system so we can have fido dine with us in Farallon.

We need to scrutinize and reject these philosophies. They undermine our ability to treat our animal charges with the respect they deserve, and ultimately denigrate the human-animal bond in the collective mind of our great City.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dog Hypocrisy Highlighted by Board of Supervisors

Sally Stephens is the self-appointed leader of San Francisco Dog Owners Group. She's well known for being less than candid with the truth, and even aligned herself with dog owners who spray painted "KKK" on a local proprietor's establishment.

What remained of Ms. Stephen's credibility was destroyed at the Board of Supervisors last month when she testified at a hearing about San Francisco's golf courses. You see, in 2007 Ms. Stephens wrote not one, but two op-ed pieces arguing for San Francisco's golf courses to be reevaluated and converted to different uses. A reasonable enough argument, and supported by many in the dog community.

But then when the Board of Supervisors actually proposed to change existing uses at Sharp Park Golf Course and create an area where we could walk our dogs and enjoy a restored visitor center and open space, she came out swinging: AGAINST the proposal.

You see, Sharp Park is in fact one of the most important natural areas in San Francisco, and restoring it would not only benefit diverse recreational users, but also two endangered species. Sally Stephens, who has converted San Francisco Dog Owners Group from a pro-dog group to an anti-wildlife group, would rather see endangered species die than her own group's agenda succeed. Among her great lines: "Frog habitat is also mosquito habitat!" Never mind that frogs eat more mosquitoes for breakfast than mosquito control kills in a year.

But this is just another day in the life of dog owners in San Francisco: our self-appointed leaders keep taking outrageous and hypocritical positions, which makes all dog owners seem unstable. Ultimately, the safety of our dogs suffers for it.

And by the way: the Board of Supervisors proposal passed, over Ms. Stephens objections, unanimously.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brian O'Neill Passes Away, Irresponsible Dog Owners Show Their True Colors

Brian O'Neill, the long-time Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, died last week from complications from heart surgery. Brian was beloved by thousands, in part because his primary mission at the park was "friendraising": he tried everyday to build new friendships for the park, and he was very successful at it. He will be sorely missed by many.

Except the irresponsible dog owners. Almost immediately they began posting negative, disgusting comments on his obituary, and now have created their own offensive and tasteless statement on Brian's passing:


This disgusting act of hatred is why dog owners are given a bad name in San Francisco. They should be forced to apologize not only for Brian's legacy, but also for what they've done to set back the hard work we've done to keep our dogs safe in the City.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dogs and Shorebirds: Pacifica Tribune

Pacifica Tribune Feb 25 2009

Dogs and Shorebirds

Editor: The group of birds known as shorebirds is comprised of the sandpipers, plovers and related birds that forage along our beaches, mudflats and rocky shores. Some species, like Western Snowy Plovers, Black Oystercatchers and Spotted Sandpipers, nest in our area, but most shorebirds are only winter visitors to the California coast, nesting elsewhere to the east and north. Many species of shorebirds travel north all the way to the tundra to lay their eggs and raise their young.

Unfortunately, the populations of many species of shorebirds, like those of so many other North American birds, are in decline. Some shorebird populations have dropped dramatically. Sanderlings, the little whitish sandpipers that chase the waves back and forth on sandy beaches, have experienced an 80% decline in their numbers since the early 1970s.

There are at least several reasons for these declines in shorebird numbers - habitat loss, toxic pollution, global warming. In the case of some shorebirds, those that utilize sandy beaches, disturbance by humans and dogs has become a significant factor. The decline in Sanderling is almost certainly due to disturbance on sandy beaches during winter and migration periods.

Many of California's sandy beaches, particularly those close to large urban areas, are heavily used by people and their dogs. As someone who spends countless hours watching shorebirds through binoculars, I am keenly aware of how easily shorebirds can be disturbed. Studies have shown that time spent by shorebirds foraging along beaches decreases in response to increasing and chronic disturbance from human activity. Other studies have shown that as pedestrian traffic increases on a beach, shorebird occurrence decreases.

While shorebirds may be disturbed by people in their habitat, they are REALLY disturbed by dogs. This is easy to observe on any day of the week. Sanderlings or Willets, another species regularly found on our beaches, may allow a string of walkers, joggers and surfers to pass by within 15 feet or so without showing undue alarm. However, as soon as a dog appears within a hundred yards of the birds, they freeze in their tracks, crane their necks up for a better view, and stand there waiting to see what the dog is going to do next.

Shorebirds can't tell if a dog is off-leash or not. If there is any indication that the dog is moving towards them, they're gone in a flash of wings. The real threat to the shorebirds from dogs is not that the dogs are going to catch and kill them. Dogs are way too slow to capture anything other than sick or injured shorebirds. The danger is in how the dogs affect the energy balance of the birds. Shorebirds, like most wild creatures, exist on a fairly tight energy budget. There is a small amount of slack built into the system, but not a lot.

Anything that negatively impacts that energy balance threatens their physiological well-being.
Shorebirds eat mostly small invertebrates, up to and including mole crabs. Anyone who has spent much time walking along sandy beaches knows that the intertidal zone there is not exactly teeming with invertebrate life. Small creatures are there, to be sure, but they are mostly buried in the sand and difficult to find. Shorebirds need plenty of undisturbed time to locate these prey items they require to meet their energy needs.

All dogs on beaches disturb shorebirds. It has been well-documented scientifically that their mere presence is enough to stress the birds and impair their foraging efficiency. Beyond that, off-leash dogs that actually chase the birds are considerably worse. Not only do these dogs interrupt the foraging and resting time of the shorebirds, but in flying around to escape dogs, the birds burn off calories and expend large amounts of energy they can't afford to spare.

Consequently, the populations of these shorebirds eventually suffer because the winter survival rate drops due to the poorer physiological condition of the birds. Beyond that, the nesting success of the birds in summer is negatively impacted by their poorer physiological condition through the previous winter. While dog owners may delight in watching their pet chasing shorebirds up and down the beach, they are doing considerable harm to these vulnerable birds.

Pacifica State Beach/Linda Mar Beach is a beach well used by shorebirds through the winter. It is regularly frequented by the endangered Western Snowy Plover as well as by several other species - Sanderling, Willet, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, and Black Oystercatcher. There is a leash law in effect for the beach which would help to protect these birds, but the Pacifica police are apparently either unwilling or unable to enforce this law. Walk the beach any time of the day, any day of the week, and you'll see 10 or 20 off-leash dogs.

If you care about the survival of the beautiful and vulnerable shorebirds along our beaches, I urge you to keep your pet on a leash and, when possible, to avoid disturbing flocks of shorebirds you may encounter on your walks.

Paul Donahue
Linda Mar

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pacifica: Off-Leash Dog Breaks Dogwalker's Leg

Letters to the Editor: August 6, 2008
Leash enforcement
Pacifica Tribune Staff


As I sit here on my couch, nursing a compression fracture in my knee and a sprained ankle, I'm forced to ponder the lack of leash law enforcement in Pacifica. How did I get so racked up, you may ask? I was walking my own dog - on leash - on the beach at Linda Mar last week. An off-leash pit bull ran at us, fortunately to play with my dog and not kill her. The larger dog became aggressive and scared my dog who ran to take refuge behind me. The pit charged after my dog, running into my leg with an audible crunch that equaled a night in the ER when I was finally able to get off the beach.

Am I angry? You bet I am. I enjoy an active lifestyle afforded by our wonderful community - mountain biking, hiking, running, golf - which I won't be able to do now for up to 6 months. I can't even walk my own dog. And why? Because of people who didn't think the law applied to them. Because people see dogs roaming free on our beaches and trails and believe these are off-leash areas. Because of a law that's not enforced.

This isn't the first time that my dog has been terrorized by aggressive off-leash dogs - it was just a matter of time before one of us got seriously hurt. What do the people who live and pay taxes here have to do to convince the city to consistently enforce its laws? When I'm able to walk my dog again, I'll have no qualms about calling the county animal control to report off-leash aggressive dogs before they hurt someone else (business hours 650-340-7022/after hours 650-363-4953). Enough is enough.

Robin Stuart

Linda Mar

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who Killed San Francisco's Coyotes? Carl Friedman, SFSPCA, and SFDOG, That's Who!! - San Francisco's Dog Blog

We here at San Francisco's Dog Blog, along with many San Franciscans, were shocked and horrified that two coyotes were killed by our government. But unlike some observers, we aren't content to simply decry the slaughter: we want to prevent another immoral killing of wildlife in our city, and to do so we must determine the root cause of the killings. There are several persons and groups who share the blame for these tragedies, and the root causes are really no surprise--at least to those who follow the protection of San Francisco's animals closely.

Carl Friedman Killed San Francisco's Coyotes.

So who killed San Francisco's Coyotes? San Francisco Animal Care and Control (ACC) director Carl Friedman blames the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, which is the agency that actually shot the coyotes. Although Mr. Friedman made the call that ultimately led to the guns-blazing response to the coyotes presence, Mr. Friedman says he had no idea that the call would result in the coyote slaughter, and now declines to endorse it. But is Mr. Friedman's not-guilty plea plausible?

Only if you believe that Mr. Friedman is institutionally incompetent and ignorant of common practices in animal care and control--and although we here at San Francisco's Dog Blog are highly critical of Mr. Friedman's purposeful anti-wildlife activities, we have never found him to be uninformed (which of course makes him that-much-more culpable for what he does). The extensive literature on Wildlife Services within the animal welfare and control community explodes with outrage over the agency's brutality and predilection for slaughter, and it is simply not plausible that Mr. Friedman--a man who has run an animal control agency for decades--had no idea that his call would lead to the death of the coyotes. After all, destroying wildlife is what they do.

So if ignorance is no defense, why did Mr. Friedman make the call that killed the coyotes? Because Carl Friedman and the agency he runs is so singularly consumed with its domestic animal agenda--a political agenda, we might add--that, as we've explained here countless times, he has completely forsaken his duty to protect and care for San Francisco's wild animals.

Up to this point, Mr. Friedman's callous temperament towards wildlife has been most evident on issues where domestic animals impinge on the ability of wildlife to survive in our city (off-leash dogs harassing birds, feral cats killing birds and infecting sea otters, etc.) As editors who love our dogs as if they were our own flesh and blood, we could at least conceptually understand the moral quandary these issues might put a man of Mr. Friedman's position in, if not agree with his actions.

But the knee-jerk killing of these coyotes explodes any myth that Mr. Friedman is a man torn between competing animal causes, and shows instead that he maintains a perverse relationship with the wild, maintaining a vendetta against those who he cannot domesticate and control. Remember, this is the same man who brought us the innovation of Dog Court, ensuring that even dogs that maul a person in San Francisco receive some due process before they are muzzled or euthanized. Yet for wildlife he shows no such compassion or commitment to process: he pushed the domino that any competent animal control officer knows will inevitably lead to acute lead poisoning of wildlife.

Mr. Friedman's relationship with nature is better suited for the 19th Century, as he consistently uses 19th Century tactics to deal with wildlife. It is a deadly, morally bankrupt choice for a man with 21st Century power and responsibilities.

SFSPCA Killed San Francisco's Coyotes.

The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to [domestic] Animals (SFSPCA) is another group that shares blame for the killings. How is that, you might ask? Because the SFSPCA runs a program promoting feral cat hoarding on public lands, which in turn leads to wild animals being indirectly fed by individuals who would be arrested if they conducted this behavior in their homes.

Of course we are talking about the SFSPCA's trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for feral cats. Now we here at San Francisco's Dog Blog are all for reducing the number of feral cats in San Francisco by the most humane method possible, not only because we are pro-wildlife, but also because feral cats lead lives of unimaginable hardship. The problem with the SFSPCA's program is that it isn't designed with the goal of reducing the feral cat population to zero, but sustaining the population so that its mentally-deranged volunteers--and animal hoarding is a mental disease--can continue hoarding animals on public property in perpetuity.

How can we make such bold claims? Because in order for a TNR program to succeed, two things must occur: (1) an exceptionally high percentage of the entire feral cat population--not just animals associated with an individual colony--must be trapped and neutered before populations can stabilize, let alone decline, because cats, of course, breed like cats; and (2) food subsides must be eliminated. The SFSPCA has absolutely no evidence that it is capturing enough cats to make the program effective: as famously made clear before the Animal Welfare and Control Commission last year, The SFSPCA keeps no data on a population level, and only looks at colonies, which are known to be transient, to try and promote the program's effectiveness. But moreover, it is a central tenet of the program that the cat-hoarding volunteers feed the cats by leaving food out for the animals in our parks, increasing the feral cats' carrying capacity and ensuring the population's growth.

And more pertinently to this post, the food that is left out is also eaten by wild animals. Opossums, skunks, and yes, coyotes eat the food left out by animal hoarders participating in this failed program, eliminating their wildness and bringing these animals closer to the dangerous end of a Wildlife Services' rifle. Even Captain Vicki Guldbech of ACC recognized this, stating in the Chronicle last year that "[i]f people leave out dog and cat food, [the coyotes] will keep eating it and they will not hunt."

The SFSPCA, by consistently ignoring scientific evidence on TNR programs and promoting the feeding of wild animals through its failed TNR program helped kill these coyotes, and the group should be held responsible.

SF DOG Killed San Francisco's Coyotes.

Last, but not least, San Francisco DOG killed San Francisco's coyotes. How is that, you ask? An answer to this question can be found in a close examination of the last acts of these coyotes in Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco contains an exceptionally large number of safe, legal off-leash dog parks: at least 28, and in a city that is only seven square miles, that gives San Francisco the highest density of dog parks of any city in the Nation, probably the world. San Francisco has more off-leash dog parks than Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, and Los Angeles COMBINED.

Yet anti-leash groups like SF DOG aren't satisfied. They continue to claim that there is not enough space for off-leash dogs to roam in San Francisco, despite the evidence. Indeed, on July 26, Sally Stephens, the self-appointed leader of the anti-leash organization, sent an e-mail missive demanding even more off-leash areas in San Francisco's parks, and attacking San Francisco's award-winning and progressive Natural Areas Program because it doesn't adhere to her anti-leash philosophy.

So SF DOG advocates disobedience of the leash law everywhere in San Francisco. Which is precisely what this woman who claims her Rhodesian ridgeback was attacked by coyotes was doing, walking her dog off-leash in a portion of Golden Gate Park where off-leash dogs aren't allowed.

But you read that the dogs were on-leash, didn't you? Of course you did: any person caught in such a situation must say so to the authorities in order to avoid a substantial fine. But for those who frequent this area, they know that the woman is lying: she walks her dogs regularly off-leash in these areas, often to the consternation of other dog-owners, and the odds are long that the one day her dog interacts with a coyote it was on-leash. Even her own alibi indicates that her dog was off-leash: there is no way a dog on-leash can run "12-feet" from its owner towards a dangerous situation, even on a flexi-leash, before being recalled. Moreover, there is no way that a coyote, a relatively small animal, would attack two Rhodesian ridgebacks leashed to a human. It simply doesn't happen like that.

If SF DOG weren't so single minded, it would stop its anti-leash agenda and work for the betterment of all animals. By promoting an ideology where flouting leash laws is OK, SF DOG bears responsibility for the demise of these coyotes.

Carl Friedman. SFSPCA. SF DOG. These three entities have been the source of much mischief for our dogs and their wild cousins. It is time for reform. It may be too late for these coyotes, but we can still honor their memory by changing the way this cabal does business in the City of St. Francis.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Study Says Off-Leash Dogs Prevent Asians and Latinos from Using GGNRA

Sometimes it hits you from a completely unexpected angle. That's when you know you're in trouble.

And so it is for the irresponsible dog owners in San Francisco. In addition to a record of siding with the Ku Klux Klan, they've now got a study showing that off-leash dogs are actually inhibiting ethnic minority groups, primarily Asians and Latinos, from using the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

To be sure, this isn't the only--and not even the most important--reason that ethinc minorities feel excluded and unwanted at the GGNRA. Yet the study's "Major results and findings" state:

Dogs as problems were mentioned by all Latino and Asian groups. For example, dogs off-leash create fear. Dog owners not picking up feces in fields, on trails and beaches, and picnic areas reduce enjoyment of the experience. Latinos, overall, expressed concern about dog owners “not caring” or lacking control (e.g., owners assume other people will like their dog as much as they do; allowing dogs to approach other people without their permission; dogs begging for food and owners not retracting them).

Who would have thought that leash law enforcement was not only good for our pets, but also social equity?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Here's Mud in Your (last) Eye, SFSPCA - San Francisco's Dog Blog

San Francisco's explosion of unsafe off-leash dog parks is one of the biggest pet-peeves of the editors here at San Francisco's Dog Blog. Thoughtless design, poor placement, and a lack of enforceable regulations protecting our dogs characterize nearly every off-leash dog play area in San Francisco.

These unsafe places are a product of what we have grown to call the "irresponsible-dog-ownership ideology." This odd ideology is a mix of libertarianism (rather than modern liberalism), animal rights (rather than welfare), and privilege (rather than responsibility), and has resulted in San Francisco becoming the center of the backlash against dogs in parks.

Ironically, and as described here in previous posts, this ideology--and by extension, irresponsible dog ownership--is primarily pushed by SFDOG and the SFSPCA, and it is these organizations more than any other entity that bear the brunt of responsibility for the harm the irresponsible-dog-ownership ideology has burdened our animals with.

We write this now because we recently learned of another dog attack at one of San Francisco's unsafe dog play areas, and this one was particularly gruesome, although thankfully not fatal. We hesitate to post it here, but feel obligated to forewarn all of San Francisco's dog owners about what SFSPCA and SFDOG presumably feel are acceptable risks for your dog at our parks:

My Boston Lost his eye on sat
Posted by: "NAME WITHHELD FOR PRIVACY" xxx@.com
Tue May 29, 2007 7:51 am (PST)

FYI my boston [sic] terrier was bitten on Sat by a large female black dog named Raisin (possibly a pit mix but with large upright ears). It happened in St Mary's park. It was not a situation where the dog was just attacking and trying to kill (because she surely would have killed him). She took his frisbee [sic], he got mad and grrred and bit (no broken skin) at the side of her neck, she turned and bit him in the face. Unfortunatly [sic] and with great grief, I must report, she BIT HIS EYE OUT. He is recovering from surgery. Although Raisin's owners were concerned and kind and promise to follow up with specialized training, I want to warn you all that if they make the mistake of bringing this dog to a dog park again, do not allow your little ones in the park. Raisin is not viscious [sic], she is lives with a small dog with whom she is kind, but she does not know her own strenghth [sic] or have appropriate bite inhibition.

These sort of accidents need to happen: if we only had safely designed dog parks, including dog parks that have separate, enclosed areas for small dogs and larger dogs, we could reduce or eliminate these attacks. SFDOG and SFSPCA oppose these areas, preferring the "mixed-use" dog park, the special creation of the irresponsible-dog-owner ideology. Thanks but no thanks. We'll be taking our dogs somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Off-Leash Dogs Attack Grebe in GGNRA - San Francisco's Dog Blog

April 15, 2007 was a great day to be outside in San Francisco--unless you were an injured Western Grebe trying to recover in the GGNRA's so-called "wildlife protection area."

Bending to the pressure of irresponsible dog owners, the GGNRA has refused to enforce leash laws at the Park for many years. Although a putative leash law enforcement area was institute to protect snowy plovers within the GGNRA's Wildlife Protection Area and portions of Ocean Beach, the Park has abdicated its responsibility to enforce this closure almost totally.

A prime example occurred on April 15. A group of Golden Gate Audubon volunteers saw two off-leash dogs approach an injured Western Grebe in the Wildlife Protection Area. This act was a violation both of the Park's leash law and the Park's rules against wildlife harassment. When the Grebe hissed at the dogs in an act of self-defense, the dogs began charging and attacking the helpless bird:

The Golden Gate Audubon volunteers ran to place their bodies between the dogs and the bird, but the irresponsible dog owner showed no concern for the bird and refused to leash her dogs. As you can see above, she sauntered along as if nothing occurred.

Adding insult to injury, Park Police were called but refused to cite the individual for any of the various violations of national park regulations. The reason? They didn't witness it with their own eyes, and the eyewitness reports of several individuals--including one responsible dog owner who was appalled by the attacking off-leash dogs--were not considered sufficient evidence to take action.

If the GGNRA expects anyone to feel safe at the Park--including the GGNRA's wildlife--something needs to change. Instead the park seems content to not cite anyone, even in the Wildlife Protection Area, until its putative regulations--or the Park's wildlife--expire.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

AAA Andy, Boxer, the SF SPCA, and a Glue Factory - San Francisco's Dog Blog

"Burying the Lead" is a tactic journalists use to hide shocking truths from the public, by burying critical information in the depths of the reporter's blather. The editors here at San Francisco's Dog Blog were informed of a prime example of this tactic perpetrated in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, and because it relates to irresponsible dog owners and the SF SPCA, we felt compelled to share.

On Wednesday, April 11, 2007, the Chronicle's Steve Rubenstein wrote what appears to be a puff piece about three San Francisco police horses that were being retired. In an elaborate public relations ceremony, Police Chief Heather Fong signed over ownership of the horses to the SF SPCA, which apparently cares for retired police horses at the Rocking B Ranch. Warm fuzzies all around.

But then 11 paragraphs in, after an incongruous topic sentence, the Chronicle dropped this on its readers:

As for AAA Andy, he hasn't worked since 2003, when he was bitten and seriously injured by an off-leash pit bull in Golden Gate Park, after which he threw his rider, Sgt. David Herrera. The sergeant was treated at a hospital for back and neck injuries.

And that's when it all came back. You see, the 2003 off-leash dog attack on AAA Andy was no ordinary incident. It was perpetrated by a long-time SF SPCA volunteer with a pit bull she adopted from the SF SPCA. Unfortunately the volunteer liked to let the dog roam Golden Gate Park off-leash illegally, which is where the trouble with this story--and the SF SPCA--lies.

Relying on the unscientific, ideological approach to dog behavior irresponsibly promoted by Jean Donaldson and the SF SPCA, the volunteer presumed that her well-trained pit bull could roam off-leash wherever she liked under the volunteer's learned eye without incident. So she allowed the pit bull to roam off-leash near Golden Gate Park's Conservancy of Flowers, which is not one of the City's numerous legal dog play areas. But as the Chronicle reported, she couldn't have been more wrong:

The pit bull mix that attacked a police horse in Golden Gate Park belonged to an SPCA volunteer who took the dog to senior centers to comfort the elderly and liked to let it run free in the park. On Monday, the SPCA volunteer, Anna Klafter, was recovering from a possible fractured skull and other injuries she suffered the day before when she tried to pull her 4-year-old dog, Nettie, away from the horse. The horse,which injured Klafter when it kicked her in the face, was trying to get its bearings back to the police stables in Golden Gate Park. The police officer who was riding the horse was getting over a back injury. And Nettie was at the vet, suffering from a gunshot wound and facing a police hearing on her fate.

At the time, Police Sgt. Phil Downs seemed exasperated by the irresponsibility bred by the SF SPCA. "This is the biggest hazard we face," Downs said. "We hear all the time, 'Oh, I didn't know that the dog would attack the horse.' "

Which makes the irony here quite Orwellian. Like Animal Farm's Napoleon placing Boxer's retirement in the hands of a glue factory, the Police have now placed AAA Andy's retirement in the hands of those who put the horse on permanent disability in the first instance.

"The horse is good,'' Sgt. Downs said the week of the accident. "The ill effects will be seen down the road. Unfortunately, a horse has a long memory.'' Apparently much longer than a human's.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Barbara Meskunas: Cull Coyotes for Off-Leash Dogs - San Francisco's Dog Blog

The Coyote, Canis latrans, is a close cousin to our canine companions, but with far better lore. Native Americans considered coyote as creator, trickster, culture hero, fool, and--not surprisingly for a critter with so many persona--as shape-shifter.

European colonists did not share this reverence. They initiated a gruesome coyote extermination campaign, and to this day Animal Damage Control--euphemistically renamed Wildlife Services when its activities became notorious--kills thousands of coyotes each year.

In the Bay Area, the effectiveness of the extermination is evident nearly everywhere, with coyote long absent but for eponym in places like the Presidio's Coyote Gulch and Fremont's Coyote Hills Regional Park.

But in the past several years, a miracle occurred: the coyote returned to San Francisco. Sporadic sightings were reported in the City, bringing hope and wonder to many San Franciscans, and giving the editors at San Francisco's Dog Blog the opportunity to see first hand the wildness that once defined our dogs. For example, in 2003, a lone coyote was observed repeatedly at Bernal Hill, inspiring a documentary about the resilience of nature and the coyote's importance in our world.

So it came as quite a shock to the editors here at San Francisco's Dog Blog when Supervisor Ed Jew's controversial legislative aid, Ms. Barbara Meskunas, informed the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon of her intention to initiate a coyote cull in the City. The reason? To "protect []wandering cats, off-leash dogs, and small children," she said. "Only an idiot would do nothing when there are wild animals in the park eating cats and small dogs. Children will be next!"

Now, Ms. Meskunas' controversial antipathy towards San Francisco's progressive Natural Areas Program is well known, and when it was learned that her close ties to the City's most controversial land speculator, Joe O'Donoghue, was the driving force behind her policies, she was voted out of the local civic organization she had infiltrated because of it.

But of all Ms. Meskunas' histrionics, this might be the most hysterical. After all, the evidence is clear that if anyone should be running for cover, it is the coyote. The species is about half the size of your average Labrador or golden retriever. And given San Francisco's recent history, the coyote is far less vicious: the new millennium has already brought San Francisco the two most gruesome and publicised fatal dog attacks in the United States, while, according to the National Park Service's Natural Resources Chief Daphne Hatch--one of the most widely respected individuals in her field--there has never been a case in which a coyote has even bitten a person at the Presidio, Marin Headlands or anywhere else in the GGNRA. Let alone killed someone.

So if San Francisco's dogs are far more likely to harm people than coyotes, what's really gotten into Barbara's bonnet? Apparently it is the fact that the presence of coyotes forces her to reign-in her irresponsibility as a pet owner. According to excerpts from a widely distributed e-mail message sent in response to those who've complained about her hatred of San Francisco's wildlife, Ms. Meskunas claims that keeping watch of her charges is more than she can bear:

Let me begin by agreeing that my quotes in the Sunset Beacon appear to be alarmist. . . . They are accurate. . . . I do not personally believe [coyotes] should be allowed to roam free in a densely-populated city. . . . I have two dogs. Since reading and hearing about the coyote incidents, I no longer walk them off leash anywhere in the park at all . . . . I enjoy looking at the Park's buffalo herd, but I'm glad there's a fence between us.

Barbara Meskunas

The editors at San Francisco's Dog Blog believe that humility and compassion should be the cornerstones of our relationships with our animals. Unfortunately irresponsible dog owners like Ms. Meskunas remain too self-absorbed to have such a relationship, and therefore egomaniacally attempt to reshape the world to suit their whims. We hope Ms. Meskunas recognizes her responsibility to share our lands with our animals' wild cousins, but her rehabilitation should not come at taxpayers' expense. Call Supervisor Ed Jew at (415) 554-7460 or e-mail him at Ed.Jew@sfgov.org and demand that Ms. Meskunas be fired post haste.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Psycho Dogs, Their Cure, and the Demise of Dog Rescue - San Francisco's Dog Blog

This week's SF Weekly has a Cujo-sounding cover story, simply entitled "Psycho Dogs." Inside, the rag describes an experiment to find the genetic roots of behavior disorders in dogs. The article explains that UCSF's Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute is conducting a fairly laborious experiment to examine the dog genome and find the genetic traits that cause compulsive behavior.

This raises an interesting ethical dilemma: what then? Once we know of these genes, are we obligated to breed them out? If not morally obligated, should we anyway?

And most importantly: will the power to design a dog's genome from the ground up make people less likely to rescue mutts they haven't created?

In some ways, wielding this information will be nothing new: dog breeders have been defining desirable characteristics in their canine companions for centuries, and then selectively breeding dogs to enhance these desirable qualities.

Moreover, these kinds of projects will almost certainly discover some DNA combinations that are so deleterious that leaving them in the dog genome would be morally unacceptable.

But at the same time, something more is going on here. This genetic information has the capacity to eliminate chance, experimentation, even innovation in dog breeding, by giving breeders perfect control over the genetic content of every dog born. And because the power is not being used simply for physical ailments--but as the SF Weekly article explains, also to cure behavioral problems--we will be wielding this power in an area where human subjectivity can be pointed and dangerous.

No doubt we have an obligation to ensure that our dogs have an opportunity to begin their lives without genetic impairment, particularly since most of these impairments are caused by humans and our inexact attempts to shape our dogs.

But behavioral problems are not always so clear-cut. Indeed, the dog with the strong prey drive that makes it unsuitable for dog parks makes it precisely the dog needed for certain types of field research. If we eliminate this gene from the dog's code, will we risk losing more than we expected?

Indeed, we might even lose many more of the mutts we currently rescue, because inexorably tied to the power to remove bad genes is the power to create dogs from basic genetic building blocks. It will not be long until this power is harnessed by the market to design dogs for prospective pet owners. To be sure, the claims will be modest at first as the technology develops--guaranteed separation anxiety free, etc.--but in theory at least, dogs could be made to order like a build-a-bear. Will this opportunity lead to a decline in interest in rescuing mutts from shelters, dogs that don't come with the personalized design and guarantee?

Friday, January 26, 2007

San Francisco Dog Owner Group Defends the KKK - San Francisco's Dog Blog

Any dog owner who's been in San Francisco since the dot-com boom busted has seen them: self-centered, irresponsible dog owners refusing to consider how they and their dog(s) affect the lives of others. Emboldened by the anti-social philosophy of the SF SPCA and the single-minded, reactionary politics of San Francisco Dog Owner Group, these folks have flocked to our City, and they have single handedly made life for the rest of us more difficult.

Things are about to get worse. On January 22, 2007, Guy Clark, the gay African-American proprietor of Guy's Flowers in Duboce Triangle, had his storefront vandalized. This was no ordinary graffiti incident: the infamous "KKK" was tagged on his door.

The primary suspects of this hate crime are--you guessed it--irresponsible dog owners. According to an article published in Bay Area Reporter on January 25, 2007, Mr. Clark had been requesting that dog owners not, ahem, "spoil" the merchandise for many years. Unfortunately, according to Mr. Clark about 10% of them become combative when asked to mind the store, reacting in boorish ways:

  • Some have called Mr. Clark the "N-word";
  • Some have thrown dog poop on his door;
  • Others have questioned his employment status;
  • One irresponsible dog owner even harassed him while the police were taking the hate crime report;
  • And now the KKK-bomb was dropped.

Unfortunately in Mr. Clark's mind, there is no longer any way to separate out the irresponsible dog owner from the racist hate monger:

"I could see a dog owner getting very offended, a minority telling them to curb your dog," said Clark. "They feel insulted that a minority is telling them about etiquette."

When facing such a public relations fiasco, you'd think that the self-appointed leaders of anti-leash groups such as Sally Stephens of San Francisco Dog Owner Group might think twice before aligning herself with the dog-owning faction of the KKK. But apparently the siren-song of irresponsibility is too strong of a pull. In response to this terrible event Ms. Stephens found it in her heart to offer this bit of wisdom to Mr. Clark:

"'When a dog's got to go you have to find a place for it to go,' said Stephens."

Guy's Flowers was voted best flower shop by the two city weekly newspapers last year for Clark's low prices and lack of hard selling. Too bad Sally Stephens can't take a brake from her hard spinning and recognize that just because the KKK owns dogs doesn't mean she has to defend them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Irresponsible Dog Owners Behaving Badly - San Francisco's Dog Blog

Stanley Roberts must be one of the most brazen reporters in the Bay Area today. His KRON newshow, "People Behaving Badly," is a cross between Punk'd and the Chronicle's "What's Not Working" section: he catches people on tape doing obnoxious, illegal, and dangerous things, and tries to hold them responsible for their actions (or inactions).

This week's show was about San Francisco's Dog Blog's favorite topic: the irresponsible behavior of dog owners at dog parks. The report catches several folks walking their dogs in violation of the City's leash law; catches two dog owner's failing to clean-up after their pets; and notes that in the single park reviewed by Stanley Roberts, three off-leash pit bull attacks occurred in the past three months.

Oddly, the report calls this park a dog park, but also notes that leashes are required. We suspect that this is not an official dog play area, but because Carl Friedman refuses to enforce leash laws at city parks, most other users refuse to go there, creating the impression in Stanley's mind that this is a place set-aside for dogs.

Catherine Heenan's lead-in was brilliant: There's at least 1 park in San Francisco that requires dogs to be on-leash, she says! It sure feels that way to responsible dog owners who desperately need on-leash places to take their pets.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

SF SPCA: Ignorance, Lies, and Denial - San Francisco's Dog Blog

It should be no surprise to readers of San Francisco's Dog Blog that the editors here take a critical eye to the SF SPCA. Over several years of observation, it has become apparent to us that the group no longer relies on science or ethics to guide its decisions about protecting animals in San Francisco, and instead tries to remake the world's events to be consistent with the group's philosophy and agenda. Imagine Orwell's Ministry of Truth--only focused exclusively on issues pertaining to San Francisco's cats, dogs, and wildlife--and you will begin to understand the danger the SF SPCA's activities pose to the well being of our animals.

A recent example of the SF SPCA's deceptive public relations deals with the negotiated rulemaking process at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is designed to reach consensus on pet management issues at the park. The SF SPCA recently issued a "message" by its "Acting President"--as noted previously here, SF SPCA President Daniel Crain was fired this summer--regarding this process; the message was reported on in January's Fetch the Paper, one of our favorite reads.

In his message, Acting President Richard E. Dirickson--a man who has never attended a single negotiated rulemaking meeting and, other than apparently being wealthy, has no qualifications to lead any humane organization--makes two alarming but false claims.

First, Mr. Dirickson claims that the SF SPCA "has been committed to the GGNRA negotiated rulemaking process from the beginning . . . ." Now, because the GGNRA plays such a large role in the lives of our dogs, we here at San Francisco's Dog Blog have taken a great interest in the negotiated rulemaking process and the SF SPCA's role in it. The fact is that the SF SPCA's primary representative in these negotiations, the group's only representative given a vote in this consensus based process, HAS NEVER ATTENDED A SINGLE NEGOTIATED RULEMAKING MEETING in the ten months that this process has been ongoing. Not one meeting. And therefore the SF SPCA has not cast a single vote on any issue of relevance to our dogs at the GGNRA.

War is Peace. Indifference is Commitment.

Second, and perhaps highlighting Mr. Dirickson's complete lack of qualifications for this job, Mr. Dirickson claims that publications describing how off-leash activities can lead to leash aggression in dogs are "totally without merit," and even disputes the studies' very existence, claiming that they were "anonymous" publications and only "allegedly published."

Well, perhaps if Mr. Dirickson had attended a negotiated rulemaking meeting--or as the big boss, at least required his voting representative to attend--he would have gotten his hands on these publications, because they were written by Trish King, the Marin Humane Society's Director of Behavior and Training. The Marin Humane Society also happens to be a member of the negotiated rulemaking team--but Marin Humane shows up and votes, while the SF SPCA sits on the sidelines.

But let's put aside for now Mr. Dirickson's and the SF SPCA's surprising failure to remain apraised of local, current, basic canine behavior research, and lets focus on the research's content. What did Ms. King publish that put her in Mr. Dirickson's doghouse?

Ms. King has stated repeatedly, most recently in an article published in the Marin Independent Journal on August 12, 2006, that a dog's experiences in off-leash dog play areas are often the cause of leash aggression in dogs:

Ms. King has published similar articles in the Marin Independent Journal before, as well as in publications by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. So why is it that the SF SPCA is attacking Ms. King, one of the Bay Area's most respected and widely published authors on dog behavior?

Because War is Peace. Indifference is Commitment. The SF SPCA has always been at war with Eurasia, it has never been at war with Eurasia.

That is, because the SF SPCA has built an ideology around dogs that is inconsistent with recent studies of dog behavior in off-leash dog parks, the group attacks the scientists and dog behavior experts that present the information, rather than letting down its ideological guard and trying to use this evidence to do right by our animals. Furthermore, the Marine Humane Society also happens to be the SF SPCA's fiercest local competitor for donations and funding--and may be wining the competition in areas where the SF SPCA's failings have become evident--which may be why Mr. Dirickson is trying to discredit Ms. King and by extension the group she works for.

So once again, the SF SPCA's ideological agenda attempts to cover up the oh-so-inconvenient facts, and in the process denigrates the lives of our dogs. We here at San Francisco's Dog Blog realize that it is unlikely the SF SPCA will ever return to reality given its recent leadership, but perhaps next time Mr. Dirickson will not deceptively label his statements as a "message" but as a"two-minute hate," which they truly are.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

If You Love Dogs, Leash Your Dog - San Francisco's Dog Blog

San Francisco has more off-leash dog play areas per square mile than any other city in the United States. We are blessed to have a large number of these essential recreation spaces distributed throughout the City.

Which is why it is so confounding that so many of our City's dog owners refuse to leash their dogs OUTSIDE of legal DPAs.

After all, we are not the same city we were six years ago. Back then there were hardly any official places to take your dog off-leash in San Francisco. Today we have 28 DPAs within the City's boundaries, providing a wide variety of off-leash recreational opportunities. Per square mile, that's more places to run dogs than any other city in the country, maybe the world.

We have also suffered major public relations fiascoes in the past few years: the highly publicized dog-mauling deaths of Nicholas Faibish and Dianne Whipple. In both cases, the dogs who killed were "off-leash dogs," with Rex and Ella regularly seen in the Faibish's neighborhood unleashed, and Bane and Hera allowed to run off-leash in Alta Plaza Park, occasionally with violent consequences.

In spite of our changed circumstances, self-appointed canine advocates continue to claim that there aren't enough off-leash spaces for dogs in San Francisco, and that therefore leash laws in the City should not be enforced. For example, a group calling itself "San Francisco Dog Owners Group" has created a "Pet Policy" that states leash laws shall not be enforced "until (and unless) adequate space is designated for off-leash recreation . . . in every neighborhood." Of course, the group's Pet Policy does not define "adequate" or "neighborhood," so there is no objective way to tell if these criteria will ever be met to the group's satisfaction.

Perhaps seven years ago such a Pet Policy could conceivably be thought of as advancing the welfare of our dogs. But today, when we have more off-leash dog play areas per square mile than any other city in the United States, the policy seems like an anachronism. Yet the San Francisco Dog Owners Group continues to claim that San Francisco has inadequate off-leash space, and fights leash law enforcement at every opportunity. In the view of those of us here at San Francisco's Dog Blog, it is clear that the small group of individuals pushing for ever more off-leash dog space cannot be considered pro-dog anymore, only anti-leash.

Unfortunately for responsible dog owners and the rest of the City, it appears that the San Francisco Dog Owner Group's anti-leash philosophy has a sympathizer in Carl Friedman, director of Animal Care and Control. Indeed, at the October 10, 2006 Dog Advisory Commission meeting, Mr. Friedman, the person charged by taxpayers with enforcing animal welfare and control laws, stated that there is no possibility of leash law enforcement in city parks, period. Apparently company policy is to wait until something bad happens--a dog is attacked, a person is bitten, a pet is lost, etc.--and then issue a post-hac rationalization/citation. As a result, it is essentially impossible to take a dog anywhere in San Francisco without being confronted with off-leash dogs.

The adverse consequences of Mr. Friedman's abdication of his responsibilities is borne out in many ways, but perhaps those who are harmed the most are those of us who work tirelessly to rehabilitate aggressive, dangerous, or unbalanced dogs in the City. To understand why, lets take an example from this month's Whole Dog Journal (subscription required), a local publication with national renown:

The Real World

A friend, a very knowledgeable pet owner, with a shy/reactive dog, e-mailed me about a setback she and her dog experienced recently. She wrote, "I keep getting caught up in the fact that I can't control the environment." Well, none of us can, though we can do what we can to prepare.

My friend's dog is about eight years old. It is only in the past year he has been able to stay calm enough to accept food treats when he is outside, even with no dogs or other animals in sight. She's done tremendous work with him, and her patience and dedication are impressive. She has recently begun walking the dog on leash in a state park. When she saw other people with dogs approaching, she would move off the trail with her dog--thus increasing the distance between her dog and a potential trigger--and click and treat (using peanut butter in a squeeze tube).

The tactic worked well. At least until recently, on a walk in the state park, an off-leash dog ran up as she and her dog waited off the trail, dashing right into her dog's face in an attempt to take his treat! It only took a moment for the off-leash dog to close the space between them, and not surprisingly, a fight broke out. Skin was broken. It was a nasty setback for her work with her dog. For a time, she despaired of the idea of ever taking her dog out on the trails again. she lost sight of their huge progress, and fixated on all that might be lost.

The article goes on to explain that the dog owner eventually got the gumption to start again, but now she is forced to find ways to keep her dog in controlled environments, that is, not in our public parks where off-leash dogs illegally roam.

For now, put aside arguments about the equity of this de facto exclusion of this woman and her dog from public parks. Instead, imagine you are this "friend," this "very knowledgeable pet owner," and you live in San Francisco. You've spent 7 years trying to rehabilitate your sweet but anxious dog so it can simply enjoy some treats in the out-of-doors. You look for some place in the city to continue your dog's training and socialization process, without the risk of being approached by an off-leash dog, a known trigger. According to Carl Friedman, the place you are looking for simply doesn't exist: he can't be bothered to enforce leash laws, even in on-leash only areas in city parks, so you simply cannot take your dog anywhere in San Francisco to continue the dog's rehabilitation process.

If stunting animal rehabilitation efforts was simply an unintended consequence of Mr. Friedman and San Francisco Dog Owner Group's anti-leash philosophy, perhaps this problem could be overlooked or corrected. Unfortunately, this isn't unintended: San Francisco Dog Owner Group believes it is proper to reserve our public spaces for the exclusive use of certain dogs and their owners, at the expense of those dog owners who are actually attempting to rehabilitate dogs that would otherwise be euthanized.

Need proof? Take a look at this excerpt from an "open letter" sent by Kassie Maxwell, the self-described "webdog" of the San Francisco Dog Owner Group, to the guardian of an adopted disabled dog who asked the Police commission to enforce leash laws in on-leash only areas so he would have a safe place to take his disabled pet outdoors:

Also, because [NAME REMOVED FOR PRIVACY] has adopted a dog with a disability, it is up to him to protect and exercise this dog is [SIC] areas where it is safe to do so. This can sometimes require some creativity on his part, but it is his responsibility - not everyone's [SIC] else's, and public policy should not revolve around his own personal situation . . . . If I were down at the Police Commission meetings complaining about other people's dogs when mine was the one with the problem, that would have been an incredibly selfish and imbalanced reaction to the situation.

Well, there you have it: a person who adopts a disabled dog, a dog that likely would have faced certain death if the person hadn't adopted it, is "incredibly selfish and imbalanced" for requesting a safe, on-leash area in San Francisco to take the dog outside.

At least we can be thankful that the San Francisco Dog Owner Group has made it quite clear that it's anti-leash agenda is more important to the group than the well being of disabled and rehabilitated pets. For the rest of us who strive to be responsible dog owners and would like to share city parks with dogs of all stripes (and number of legs), show your love of dogs by leashing your dogs in our on-leash only open spaces.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Commercial Dog Walkers Put Profit Before Dogs - San Francisco's Dog Blog

Commercial dog walking is big business in San Francisco. On-leash or off, with other dogs or without, you can find almost an infinite number of commercial dog walkers willing to give your dog some exercise while you are away from home. This is a great and needed service in San Francisco, where our residences are small, the hours we work long, and the number of large dogs needing exercise quite high.

Unfortunately, commercial dog walkers are almost entirely unregulated in the City. If you do choose to hire a commercial dog walker, Animal Care and Control has just two words for you: caveat emptor. Furthermore, commercial dog walkers almost always take their charges out to romp in publicly owned spaces--sometimes within dog play areas, sometimes not, but always without paying a commercial licensing fee--creating friction with dog owners who don't like their DPA overcrowded with commercial play dates.

We here at San Francisco's Dog Blog suspect that if you asked San Francisco's dogs, they'd tell you that they wish Animal Care and Control would implement regulations governing commercial dog walkers. Requiring safe transport of our dogs in regularly inspected vehicles, ensuring good ventilation for our dogs during transport, requiring that all dogs walked together be up on their vaccinations, and requiring commercial dog walkers to comply with leash laws and all other applicable parkland regulations would be a good start, they'd likely say.

This past summer San Francisco's Commission on Animal Control and Welfare took the first step towards putting some regulations on the books. However, in a classic example of a regulated industry capturing the very agency charged with its regulation, the Commission on Animal Control and Welfare is proposing to allow commercial dog walkers to walk between 8-10 dogs AT ONE TIME.

Gentle readers, right now you are probably thinking, so what? Well we'll tell you what: responsible dog owners and animal welfare groups have been saying for many years that the number of dogs any person can walk at once while ensuring the dogs' safety is between 3-6. Whether you ask the East Bay Regional Park System, U.C. Davis' Center for Animals in Society, the experts at Whole Dog Journal, or even the SF SPCA, you will discover that a limit of 8-10 dogs is a recipe for lost and injured dogs. Not to mention less individualized attention for your mutt.

So what is driving this extension to 8-10 dogs? Profit, and nothing else. There has never been a single study (or even objective opinion) suggesting that a single commercial dog walker can effectively ensure the safety and well being of 8-10 dogs, particularly when the dogs are allowed off-lead. This is simply a money grab by commercial dog walkers, who want to make more dough per walk at the expense of Fido's health and well being. Jeff Hunt, a self-professed commercial dog walker, said as much in his comments to the Commission, saying that in his view a limit on the number of dogs walked at one time was simply a limitation on his income, refusing to recognize that the dogs he is walking are not widgets but wonderful beings that he is paid to care for.

Commercial dog walkers in our City are likely to argue that they are somehow more enlightened and therefore able or entitled to walk more dogs than most folks would consider safe. But lets take one example here: K9 Safari, run by two seemingly wonderful people who clearly love dogs, but have not always kept their charges from getting lost.

If you look closely at this promotional photo entitled "K9 Safari in action" on Flickr, you'll note that there are 8 dogs in the shot. Now imagine doubling the number of dogs in the photo. That's what the Commission is proposing as an appropriate number of dog walkers to dogs. At any rate, this past spring, K9 Safari lost at least one of their charges at Fort Funston while walking the dog off-leash, and then helped another company find a second dog that was lost at Yerba Buena Park. The dog at Fort Funston fell off a cliff and was stranded over night in the rain, and Park Rangers had to rappel down the cliff to rescue it.

According to posts placed by one of K9 Safari's proprietors on nearly every dog e-mail list remotely connected to the Bay Area, the second dog was lost for over 11 days after it was spooked by a large disturbance ran away from its dog walker:

Posted by: k9safari
Sun Nov 5, 2006

Hello All,I am sending this plea to the dog community to help look for Jacko, a friendly 5 yr old Akita/Shepherd mix last seen at Buena Vista Park on Thursday 11/2/06 around 1:30 p.m. He is large and white with brindle spots all over him. A huge branch fell from a tree and spooked him while he was with his dog walker, which resulted him to flee toward the Castro. He had a collar with tags and a red raincoat on. Please contact Tiffany at 415-225-xxxx or Dave at 713-xxxx with ANY information. Also, please pass this on to anyone you know in the dog community. Many Thanks

Jocko has returned home!!!!
Posted by: k9safari
Tue Nov 14, 2006

Hello Dog Lovers-I just wanted to let you all know that the Akita/Shepard mix named Jocko has been found after 11 days of being missing. He was hiding in the shrubs at Portola and Clipper! Thankfully, besides being hungry, he is safe and back at home getting lots of love from his family! Everyone involved is so grateful for your concern and compassion during such a scary and LOOOOONG time of stress! HURRAY!

Can you imagine losing your pup for 11 days? We're all for rejoicing in happy endings, but we need to prevent dogs from being lost in the first place.

Which brings us back to the Commission on Animal Control and Welfare. If it was truly interested in helping San Franciscan's maintain safe environments for our dogs and ensuring that those who would service our dogs are adequately prepared for the job, why on Earth would they propose allowing commercial dog walkers to take out 8-10 of our dogs at one time? It is because the Commission has been captured by the very groups it is designed to regulate. The Commission no longer does the bidding of our dogs, it does the bidding of those who would profit off of them.

Monday, December 25, 2006

SF SPCA uses Funds for Housing Animals to House the Group's Insiders - San Francisco's Dog Blog

Of the many disappointing aspects of our dog's lives in San Francisco, perhaps nothing is more disappointing than the SF SPCA. The seemingly venerable institution has brought discredit to the humane movement in many ways, from its politicized views of dog behavior to its uncanny ability to alienate animal welfare groups from the Marin Humane Society to Golden Gate Audubon Society.

But it isn't only the SF SPCA's politics that puts the group in San Francisco Dog Blog's dog house. It's also the group's financial management. Perhaps the most egregious example of its financial schenanegans is the sweetheart deal the SF SPCA has historically given to its presidents.

For example, a review of the SF SPCA's tax records show that in his last years as the SF SPCA's President, Ed Sayers received over $200,000 in salary and benefits. An extraordinary amount for the leader of any non-profit group.

But the compensation package didn't end there: the SF SPCA also gave Mr. Sayers a $400,000 interest-only loan from the group's non-profit funds so Mr. Sayers could buy a house. That's nearly half-a-million dollars that the SF SPCA spent on housing the agency's insiders, rather than on San Francisco's homeless cats and dogs.

Shortly after this loan was disclosed on the SF SPCA's IRS forms, Mr. Sayers abruptly left the organization and paid the balance of the loan back. It isn't clear if his departure is related to this insider loan; presumably the SF SPCA didn't realize the loan failed the smell test and didn't send Sayers packing on this ground alone.

Which raises an interesting question: what will the SF SPCA do with your donation now that it is searching for a new president? Just a few weeks ago, the SF SPCA apparently fired Daniel Crain, the group's most recent president, for undisclosed reasons. The sudden firing, just days before Mr. Crain was to deliver an address at the national feral cat summit hosted in San Francisco, was really a wipe out: there isn't a reference to Mr. Crain left on the SF SPCA's website.

So the group is in the market for a new president. Will it keep spending your donations on housing its insiders, or will it wisen up and spend the money where we thought it was going, to house homeless cats and dogs?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Let's Share the Beaches

San Francisco is not one of the world's best cities for dogs. It's not even the best dog city in the United States. Our businesses don't accommodate dogs well, our public transit maintains arbitrary and difficult rules for our animals, our dog parks resemble Beirut in the Summer of 2006, and we've been the fatal locale of the two most gruesome and publicized dog attacks of this century.

By any measure, we have a lot of work to do. Which is why when photos like this hit the internet-with an unleashed dog relieving itself within yards of several federally protected snowy plovers-we here at San Francisco's Dog Blog just shake our heads in disappointment. We have real issues to tackle in this City, yet irresponsible dog owners who can't be bothered to share beaches with other people-let alone other species-prevent us from making progress on issues that would actually make lives better for our dogs.

To be fair, it isn't clear that this dog is far from its owner, and we don't know for sure where this photo was taken. But letting a dog off-lead this close to protected species, to do what it's doing here, is not a good way to start a conversation about making San Francisco more accessible to dogs.

Our dogs mean the world to us. But that does not mean that the world belongs to our dogs. This dog couldn't possibly be expected to know that what it sees as a defecation zone is important habitat for these small birds, but its guardian should. Lets show some respect for the snowy plovers and move on to making our city a more accessible place for our dogs.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Making San Francisco Safe and Fun for Dogs - San Francisco's Dog Blog

Welcome to San Francisco's "Dog Blog," where we hope to inspire a new era of dog-centric living in our great City. San Francisco goes with dogs the way peanut butter goes with kongs. But a dog's life isn't always grand in the City:
Over 60% of San Francisco residents are renters, yet almost all rental units preclude renters from owning dogs.
Not enough restaurants, cafes, and businesses accommodate dogs.
Our dog parks aren't safe, and Animal Care and Control won't help until after your dog is lost, bitten, or killed.
Public transit is hardly dog friendly: dogs pay the full fare on MUNI and they can't ride during commute hours.
We know San Francisco can do better. On the Dog Blog, we will bring these basic issues to light and help make San Francisco more accessible to our dogs.