Jim and Melanie Woods of Crown Point launched a petition recently on Change.org. It’s been obvious from the reaction they’ve gotten that others share their concerns about dog-walking restrictions.
“We launched the petition and got just under 1,500 signatures the first week,” noted Jim Woods, adding, “It would be great to get 2,000 signatures … even 4,000 signatures. That might be enough to force some of our elected officials to take another look at this issue, revisit the conversation on why we ended up with these restrictions – and whether they still express the will of the community.”
On Change.org, the Woods’ petition notes that Pacific Beach and Mission Bay residents request more off-leash options for their dogs.
“We have amazing regional parks and would like to be able to enjoy them with our furry friends,” states the petition. “Increased enforcement in the area has highlighted the overly restrictive nature of the current laws.”
The Change.org petition notes the following restrictions on dog-walking at Kate Sessions Park and along Mission Bay:
- Dogs are not allowed on the beach, boardwalk or adjacent parks between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Nov. 1 through March 31. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, boardwalk or adjacent parks between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from April 1 through Oct. 31.
- At Kate Sessions, it is mandatory that all dogs shall be maintained on a leash not to exceed eight feet, including trails and canyons in all parks.
Henish Pulickal, current chair of Pacific Beach Planning Group, is sympathetic to dog owners. However, he was quick to point out that any new “conversation” about possibly relaxing rules governing canines needs to include safety considerations.
“I love dogs. I think they are great,” Pulickal said. “The problem with dogs, especially off-leash dogs, are two-fold: When owners aren't looking, even the best-behaved dog will leave a deposit on the beach or the park and the owner may not see it to pick it up. Next thing you know, I'm slipping in it, or my toddler has fallen in it.
“Even the best-behaved dogs can get excited and can accidentally (or purposefully) hurt a child or even an adult. At least once a month, I see an excited dog knock over or accidentally scratch or bite a small child trying to enjoy the park. I've personally been scratched badly by an aggressive dog. Off-leash dogs need to be in dedicated off-leash parks. You cannot expect people with children, or that have an aversion to dogs, to share space with them.”
Added Pulickal: “I'm totally for sharing space on the beach or at any park for fenced, off-leash dog areas. But you can't have entire parks be off-leash areas, and have those same parks be expected to be used by a family that wants to have children or food out.”
The Woods have identified two changes they claim would address a large majority of dog owner’s concerns:
- First, we request the ban on dogs during daylight hours on Mission Bay and the adjacent parks be lifted.
- Next, we request that Kate Sessions be an approved off-leash dog location.
Among the reasons the Woods cite for changing dog-walking restrictions:
- This ban on dogs during prime daylight hours on Mission Bay is outdated.
- Mission Bay is a safe place to walk our dogs where they do not need to be next to traffic.
- Dogs are no more of a hindrance on Mission Bay than bikes, scooters, surreys and large groups.
- Kate Sessions is a popular attraction for dog owners visiting San Diego.
- Capehart Park is not large enough to meet the demand for dog parks in the area.
- Residents should not be forced to drive to Fiesta Island for a dog park.
- All dog owners should not be punished for a few bad actors.