It’s Good to be a Dog.
I don’t think there’s an official statistic on this anywhere, but it would probably be a safe bet that the venerable canine is the most common household pet in the City of Good Living — only the house cat may give it a run for its money. But there’s no doubt that San Carlos residents love their dogs. Whether they’re cruising downtown on Laurel Street, or chasing balls at Burton Park, dogs are definitely part of the fabric of San Carlos.
Part of the challenge of owning a dog is finding a suitable place to exercise them. Dogs love to run, and the bigger the dog is the more room they need to stretch their legs. But with open space and parks being such a preciously guarded commodity in San Carlos, dog owners didn’t have many options to exercise their dogs off leash within city limits — the only exception being the Heater Dog Park, which is a small slice of land next to Heather School. All other parks have explicit instructions which mandate that all dogs must remain leashed.
To get around the lack of available space, some dog owners let their dogs run freely at some of the bigger parks in San Carlos. It has been a pretty common site for years to see a half dozen dogs running blissfully across the Burton Park field in the morning hours. Same goes with Crestview, Heather, Highlands, and Stadium fields. And unless there was an incident with the dogs, enforcement of the leash laws was pretty much non-existent. The coexistence seemed to be working.
But according to Bonnie Eslinger’s article in the Daily News, all of that changed recently when Sheriff’s deputies began writing citations to owners of off-leash dogs –this came in response to some complaints they received from residents who objected to the frolicking canines at Burton.
The backlash from dog owners and subsequent meetings with the Park and Rec Department and the Mayor of San Carlos resulted in a temporary agreement to open some of the parks to off-leash dogs during limited hours. For the month of January, dogs owners have been allowed to officially cut them loose at Burton and Highlands Parks between the hours of 8AM and noon, and then again between 4PM and 8PM. The extended hours work because the fields aren’t used this time of year for organized sports.
According to the Daily News Article, the Park and Rec Commission was tasked last night to consider possible options to give the dogs extra room to run, one of which is to make the temporary experiment at Burton and Highlands a permanent one.
Etiquette is Key.
Personally, I think off-leash dogs and people can and should coexist at our parks. But there are conditions related to etiquette and safety that need to be addressed before such an arrangement should become permanent. The first is cleanliness. I volunteer during the fall as a referee for San Carlos AYSO, and I can tell you that there isn’t a weekend that goes by where we don’t have to scour the field and remove several canine “land mines” from the field before the field is suitable for use. And that’s if we’re lucky enough to find them before somebody steps in them. That simply shouldn’t happen.
The second concern with the dogs themselves. Some dogs simply shouldn’t be allowed off leash because they’re too aggressive toward other dogs and worst case, people. I’ve heard numerous stories about dog fights and other aggressive behavior with off-leash dogs that make this a very legitimate concern.
The website San Carlos Dogs is a good resource for people who are interested in finding out more about the off-leash rules, the discussions with the Park and Rec Commission, and great tips on dog etiquette at the park.
But at the end of the day, the parks are for everyone in San Carlos — and there needs to be solution that’s workable for both residents AND dog lovers in San Carlos. Probably the most favorable solution with dog owners is to make the temporary off-leash hours at Burton and Highlands permanent. What do you think about that? Register your vote in the poll at the top of the site.
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