The Dog Barons

I received this message from a park visitor, David D.:

My partner Leigh and I … had numerous problems with off-leash dogs in the park. As you know, many if not most dog walkers pay scant attention to the rules and signs, and Leigh has been bowled over by behind by a big dog in an ON-leash area. That dog’s keepers declined to accept any responsibility, replying that the park was “dog heaven” and their animal had “a lot of energy.”

Yesterday at about 5 p.m. we were walking along the waterfront on the west side of the park — another on-leash area — heading north, when we saw a couple coming toward us with an off-leash Doberman. The dog was big but young, racing and bounding all over the place with uncontrolled energy. Sure enough, it made right for us and barely missed Leigh, brushing against her legs as it passed on the narrow dirt trail between the paved sidewalk and the water.

I proceeded to yell at the couple that it was an on-leash area, relating what had previously happened to Leigh.

Not unpredictably, the lady responded by saluting and saying sarcastically, “Yes sir!” When I looked back, the dog continued to run free.

This is all too common — not just loose dogs, but condescending attitudes from owners. In light of her experiences, Leigh feels it has ruined the experience of walking at Cesar Chavez, which used to be her favorite place — she went there every day. 

Dogs have free run of other nearby places like Point Isabel. We sincerely wish that Cesar Chavez were not allowed to become the latest sacrifice zone (as it already almost has). Can you help remedy the situation?

Thank you for reporting this incident. I and others have had similar experiences. There is a type of dog owner, like the ones you write about, who see themselves as barons and baronesses and consider the park their private estate where they can do as they like. Dog ownership has given them royal privilege, and they drip with contempt for the ordinary citizen who visits the park. Signs, laws, and regulations mean nothing to them. They destroy and remove boundary signs. They don’t care if their dog harasses people; they even get a buzz from it. Poop? They don’t see it, or if they bag it, they leave the bag. Let the dog dig holes, that’s what dogs do. If their dog kills a rabbit or a Burrowing Owl, they think it’s wonderful, what a great dog they have that can do that. Most dog owners are not like that, but the few who fit this profile leave their stamp on the whole park experience and ruin it for everybody.

This type of dog owner is a plague on a park. We cannot allow this arrogant elite to ruin the park experience for everyone else. We need to make Parks management, the Parks and Waterfront Commission members, and most importantly the members of the City Council, keenly aware that there is a serious problem at Cesar Chavez Park with dog management.

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