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.