Coastsiders in support of off-leash dogs
Why can’t our coastside community have legal, open spaces that permit off leash dogs (under voice command) like so many areas around the bay and beyond? Considering the large number of responsible dog owners (with well-mannered dogs) who frequently use open spaces from Montara to Half Moon Bay to exercise and enjoy a walk with their dogs, I feel that having open space areas that permit off leash dogs is an asset to our coastside community.
One may ask why do we walk our dogs off leash? Why do we risk getting caught for breaking leash laws? Are we born criminals who are just out to break laws?... It’s because we believe in giving our dogs a healthy, happy quality of life that they can only get through adequate physical and mental exercise. As any dog trainer will tell you, a well-behaved dog is a tired dog. It just not the same to chase the ball to the end of a 6’ leash. In addition, well-socialized dogs tend to be less aggressive, and socialization is best learned off-leash. Furthermore, with the obesity epidemic in America, open spaces that allow off leash dogs are beneficial not only for the dogs’ health and fitness, but also for our own. Recent research has indicated that people are more likely to walk regularly if they are responsible for a pet.
Unfortunately because of the few aggressive/unruly dogs with irresponsible or ill prepared owners who make it into the news, ALL dog owners and their dogs are presumed to be a public nuisance at best or a threat to public safety at worst. The overwhelming majority of responsible coastside dog owners have no more desire to step in dog poop or be accosted by aggressive/unruly dogs any more than our fellow coastsiders who don’t own dogs. And the good news is that, despite the widespread publicity given to the relatively few incidents, on any given day, there are hundreds of us on the coastside and in the immediate bay area (Fort Funston and Crissy Field to name a few) walking our dogs off leash uneventfully. However, the move to leash all dogs based on the behavior of a few is the kind of generalization that is not only unwarranted, but unjust. It like saying, "we better not let teenage boys congregate together, because they are going to rape someone!" or should we say that "because of a few bullies and kids who are bent to hurt others, all parents should be leashed to their children so that they can have better control on their kids’ behavior?"
We all need to start taking responsibility for ourselves and not have to rely on legislation or laws to dictate every little thing we do in our lives! We are all fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. I am sure that the coastside community of off-leash dog owners, on-leash dog owners, and non dog owners alike, can come to a solution that can satisfy everyone.