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Dog Leash ordinance not enforced

Original post made by green meadow ace on Oct 7, 2013

Lots of free dogs running free outside the dog park at Mitchell park. If You mention to the owners about the Palo alto Leash ordinance you will have the dirty looks for the least. One person asked who was I to say that. Please just be respectful. You have a dog do not let it pee or Poo at Hoover Elementary, or at the JLS fields across the Dog Park. Most of the time I see I do not say anything because I am with my kids and do not want a confrontation, but I think it is time for those $300 fines and curt appearance. I don't want to compare here but in San Francisco there are much more dogs and every single one that I notice when there is leash when not in dog park. Please don't hate me this is just the law. Please respected. Specially the ones who said they were born and lived all their lives in Palo Alto, That is great native Palo Altan, now please respect this city ordinance and keep your dog on the leash outside the dog park.

Comments (66)

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Dog owners, "Please be respectful"? You are talking to deaf ears. We had to spend money to install hedges around our lawn because dogs viewed it as a toilet. I am so fed up with off-leash dogs and dogs defecating on our private property and at our schools and on sidewalks. My children have stepped in dog feces three times during P.E. class. Picking up the feces is helpful, but there is still residue. The dog owners should be forced to pick it up with bare hands; afterall, our students sit on the lawns for lunch and fall on the grass during recess. The dog owners should have to experience dog feces first hand too.

Posted by So right, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm

This is very true, the leash law is not enforced in Palo Alto. Three times in the past five years, my dog, on leash, was attacked by dogs who were off-leash. In the first case, the owner was talking to her neighbor on the sidewalk, and when I rode by on my bike with my big dog, the lady's little dog ran out into the street and I nearly hot him! causing me to fall off my bike. Then her dog attacked mine,

In the second instance, a lady was playing fetch with her poodle in her front yard, and when I rode past on my bike with my dog on leash! the poodle took off and ran out Into the street and chased after us. When I stopped so that the owner could get her dog back, the poodle attacked my dog.

In the third instance, I was walking my smaller dog when a woman with a Corgi came out of her front door without her dog being on a leash. The Corgi ran across the front yard and bit my little dog, drawing blood.

In all three cases, I apologetically reminded the owner of the offending dog of the leash law in PA, thinking that maybe they were unaware. All three times, the dog owners were angry about twit, blaming my dog or my bicycle for their faux pas. In the second instance, when I rode my bike back home in the opposite direction, with. Y dog running alongside on leash, the poodle's owner threw a rock at me and hollered,"I'm mad!"

In another, a friend's teenage son took his dog, on leash, to Hoover P ark to play in the dog park there. The owner of a toy Yorkie was just leaving the dog park just as he was entering it. Her little tiny Yorkie was not leashed, and ran away from her, barking and approaching other larger dogs and nipping at their legs--my friend's Son's dog as well.
Tragically, the boy's dog picked up the annoying little Yorkie by the neck, and shook him.

To make a long story short, my friend paid for the Yorkie's vet bills, but the little dog did not survive. The Yorkie's owner sued my friend in court, and WON! Even though the dead dog's owner had been violating the law, the judge saw it as Big Dog vs Little Tiny Dog, and ruled in the Yorkie owner's favor. Even in court, the leash law was not enforced!

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

The leash laws are not enforced any more than the gas-powered leaf blowers ban. Until the owners of the house or dog are fined, big time, nothing will happen. Our city council doesn't like to get involved with such petty things...they want to think of themselves as model changers for the world. Imagine how much good will (and votes) they would get, if they simply paid attention to the small issues.

I would also mention that Palo Alto has a significant liability issue in front of it, if an off-leash dog causes significant injuries. Very dicey issue.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

This town has gone to the dogs....

Posted by Ok, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm

@Craig Laughton, that's interesting. Could you point out any news stories about towns facing "significant liabilities" over off-leash dogs causing injuries? I couldn't find them.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm

> Could you point out any news stories about towns facing "significant liabilities" over off-leash dogs causing injuries?

A few years ago, an off leash dog seriously attacked a child in a playground in Palo Alto. It was a big deal. The parents decided, in the end, to not sue (or they settled, not sure). If they had decided to sue, Palo Alto could have been up the creek, without a paddle, because it systematically refuses to enforce the law on the books. When the event happened, Palo Alto suddenly decided to enforce the law for a few weeks...but now we are back to ground enforcement.

Posted by A news story, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

A news story, Craig. Not your version of a story ( with embellishments by you) with your version of the outcome might have been

Posted by Ok, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2013 at 1:56 am

Thanks @Craig Laughton. Sounds like you are not aware of any news stories that show "a significant liability issue" for the town from unleashed dogs. I couldn't find any either. I guess the taxpayers can rest easy on this one.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:34 am

Here is an example of a homeowners association being sued for failure to enforce leash laws:

Web Link

Posted by Dog's Life, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

I'm glad the ordinance is barely enforced. We're over-policed and over-regulated enough. Once in a while I like my dog to be able to chase a ball on a big lawn and not feel like a criminal for it. He rarely use public lawns as his toilet; he has a daily routine in his own tiny backyard for that. And if he did drop a load, I'd clean it up fastidiously (though not with my bare hands, as one commenter suggested). And he'd never hurt another dog. Dogs running and playing off leash should be something we can accomodate without criminalizing it. We lived with it for a few centuries after all. Hard to believe we've become too sensitive for it now.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

Here's a "significant liability" example. I am disabled and walk with a cane. The doctor said I must walk each day or lose the limited mobility I now have.

An unleashed dog in a neighbor's front yard knocked me down as I took my afternoon walk. I asked the dog's owner to leash him, and was subjected to their sudden screaming at me to stay off their block (around the corner from my house), among other incredibly vitriolic remarks and expletives.

Falling is horribly dangerous for older people, but these neighbors were offended that the leash law restricted their dog's "freedom."

Lots of laws (e.g. traffic laws) restrict freedom for the community's safety. SO: Give the leash law violators $300 tickets and raise some money for the city.

I am a dog owner (with the best, cutest, and smartest dog in the world) --- and I leash my dog.

Posted by AllYouCanEat, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:58 am

Hey "Dogs Life,"

Its called a dog park... They walk among us.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

I don't think you can force people to leash their dogs in their own yards (a couple comments pertained to owners playing with their dogs in the front yard) but dogs running loose at schools is not ok. Jordan is a defacto dog park at night and on weekends, most of the dogs listen well, but you really can't see if the "do their business" when they are on the opposite end of the park. And don't assume because your dog is small and usually friendly, it won't bite. If an on leash dog is approached by an off leash dog, the dog on the leash will feel the need to defend itself.

People should use our dog parks and perhaps we need a few more designated, larger space for dogs.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

PA Resident:
It would be interesting to test your front yard hypothesis, or a dog's perception of private property, in court.

The dog who jumped me didn't see the difference between his owner's front yard and the public sidewalk. He ran to the sidewalk and knocked me down there. In fact, he ran to the sidewalk in front of his neighbor's house, 2 houses from his own front yard.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2013 at 10:09 am

We have too many laws for our limited police to enforce, so many of them are only enforced when there is a complaint. Call 329-2413 and request someone come out to talk to the owner.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

Yes, there are too many laws for police to enforce every minute of the day. I will call, and have called, the police when I see unleashed dogs and will continue to do that.

But why do I need to be so fearful about taking just a walk?

Why do I have to be afraid that my cane, some shiny jewelry, or the smell from something I cooked will entice an unleashed dog to deck me?

Who knows how the canine mind works and what entices them or irritates them?

Why can't Palo Alto residents simply obey the law? Do the right thing. Don't open yourself up to terrible liability. Stop rationalizing why you don't have to obey the law, stop making excuses.

Posted by MM, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:07 am

I think most people are very conscientious about picking up dog "remains". I pick up after my dog and I also pick up after other dogs and trash too. It seems to me many dogs need a place to run in a space that is bitter than the dog parks. Also, I would prefer police work on burglaries, dangerous driving and the other safety issues first. They are more important.

Posted by Too angry, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

Last week my dog(16 pounds was attacked by an off leash dog (80+ pounds) while walking in my neighborhood resulting in multiple puncture wounds . My other dog was attacked by the SAME off leash dog 13 months earlier and never recovered fully from the attack and died a few months later.
Although the dog has now been surrendered to the pound, to the best of my knowledge, the owner hasn't even been charged for a leash violation.

The same irresponsible, idiot owner used to let his dogs roam the neighborhood after dark and poop anywhere without ever cleaning up after them.

I just don't understand that level of idiocy.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:33 am

Yes people are pretty conscientious about their dog poop --- now deal with your potential liability from letting your dog loose.

Leash your dogs before someone is seriously injured by being knocked over.

No more fall freebies. Next time I will be forced to take legal action.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

The nexus between dogs off leash and the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers is "complaint based". That is a truck-sized loophole, which, in effect, means that that there is not enforceable law. We need to get rid of that fig leaf, by which our city council pretends to be concerned, yet makes sure that almost nothing gets done.

Our police need to enforce the laws that they see getting broken, during their regular rounds. If the fines are high enough, our city will make money and the problem will go away, very quickly. Our police are in continual radio contact, thus they can always respond to more serious crimes.

Posted by Dog Dictator, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I cannot believe the leash laws are not being enforced. My obedience group can no longer practice in Palo Alto parks due to Animal Services telling us we could not have dogs off leash at any time due to people complaining about unleashed dogs. We are talking about COMPETITION level, well-behaved dogs and handlers here. I guess it's the old "where are the cops when you need them?" adage.

I certainly agree about off leash dogs. I understand why people feel their dogs need to run free, but keep that to the dog park. My own dog doesn't do well with other dogs if he is properly leashed and the other dog is free to run right up and get in his face. I am tired of the clueless owners, talking on cell phones, while Fido runs free.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I am not a dog owner, but have lived with dogs growing up.

The problem is not the dogs, but the total lack of adequate dog facilities in Palo Alto. We have so many people and not enough space for dogs to run off leash. A dog who gets enough off leash exercise is a much happier dog than one that is always leashed except for within small confines.

The dog parks are dirty and not close enough to most people's homes. It makes very little sense putting an animal in dire need of exercise in a car to take them across town to run in a dirt filled small run, when there is a neighborhood park within a short walk.

It would make much more sense in making most of our neighborhood parks unleashed dog friendly between the hours of 7.00 - 8.00 am and pm. For those who are nervous around unleashed dogs they would learn that it is unwise to use the parks at these times. This would be sharing the limited facilities which is something that we teach our children to do and it sounds as if adults need to learn the lesson too.

Posted by Animal Lover, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by a concerned dog owner, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I agree with the last comment, there are not enough places for dogs to run in Palo Alto. As for using our dog runs, none of Palo Alto dog runs are segregated as to size. Most "safe" parks have a size rule. When I go, which is infrequently, I have to spend 15 minutes casing the dogs before I allow my dog in to play-I am concerned with the mix of dogs. Are they compatible? Is the "mix" peaceful. Are owners paying attention? I have often left without adding my dog to a possible dangerous situation.
I like the idea of having very early hours or very late hours at a park!
I am also making a plea, to those dog owners who are rude when confronted by non-dog owners, please be polite--otherwise you ruin it for all of us!!!!!

Posted by Pibbles, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

There were a couple of pit bulls living in our neighborhood until recently, when the rental housing they were living in was torn down and converted to condos. A few years ago, one of them did get loose. Fortunately, there were no children present, but the dog roamed the neighborhood for a couple of hours until someone called animal control. What might have happened if no one had called, and this dog had wandered the streets when children started coming home from school, or if someone walked a smaller dog at the same time this huge, muscular male pit bull was on their street? The dog was not only unleashed, but possibly unlicensed.

Posted by anon, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm

In no way am I being insentive to elderly afraid of falling. But I point out to them that leashing dogs hardly makes you safer if you're unstable on your feet. In fact, I've stumbled more from getting tangled in dog's leashes than from be tripped or tackled by unleashed dogs. So leashing dogs for the safety of the elderly seems like a bit of a red herring.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Pibbles is an alarmist. Nothing happened in the described incident. Pibbles doesn't even know that the dog was unlicensed. Stop taking license with the facts, Pibbles.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Anon -- red herring? Are you kidding? I simply walk with a cane -- I'm hardly feeble and am not that elderly at all.

Simply put, I would like to walk around my block and get a little exercise without worrying about loose dogs.

Obey the leash law. Get a retractable leash if you are worried about tripping yourself up... after all, you wouldn't want to be injured by your dog. After all, you wouldn't want to become disabled

Posted by Sparty, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I keep my AmStaff on a leash. Which is ironic because despite his looks and the fear he inspires, it's all the off-leash dogs that are a problem--not just by virtue of being off leash, but they are aggressive. There are a bunch of oh-no-not-my-dog types that take their dogs off leash at Addison school every day. And then have the audacity to get mad if my leashed dog responds in kind to their off-leash, barking, snapping dogs.

Likewise for Hoover Park. Despite the existence of a dog park IN Hoover park, people insist on letting their dogs run free in the grass fields. So it is not a question of access. It's entitled dog owners.

Simple solution, I always have pepper spray. If their dog can't be called off they will get sprayed

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Sparty - maybe I've seen you walking your dog in the Crescent Park area? I always notice the bulldog types, since they're not that common on your side of the creek :-)

May I also suggest a small boat horn and/or that super concentrated citronella spray? When the wind is blowing, pepper spray can be a mess! Years ago, I had to use pepper spray on a big dog that attacked mine & it was quite difficult to use properly due to the wind. It did end up working, but my dog was affected & so was I.

Posted by Sunshine, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I too love animals, especially my own. I do not necessarily want your dog to poo in or dig up my garden, nor do I want to suddenly encounter your off leash when I am walking or riding a bike anywhere in town.
I see many dogs off leash at Bol Park and in the surrounding Barron Park neighborhood this happens every time I walk. I particularly did like it when someone's dog comes running at me in what appears to be full attack mode. I am not physically large and many of these dogs outweigh me.
The same thing happens when I walk in one of the larger parks such as Arastradero. Preserve.
Where are the Palo Alto police? They don't enforce red light runners or those who speed on the streets f Barron Park.. matadero ave is a local race track. C3Ry9

Posted by Walker, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I love dogs, although currently I do not have one. I hate it when a dog puts its nose in my personal space. This is the owner's fault, not the dog's. I believe you should not get a dog unless you have some place for it to exercise freely, such as a yard, some acreage, etc. Yes, I know, property is expensive here. But a dog deserves to be adequately provided for, just as a child does. I agree that Palo Alto does not have enough space set aside for dogs to exercise. Perhaps dog owners could pool their resources and rent or buy spaces in town where their dogs might run free, within a fenced area. This would be kind to your dogs. It is very disheartening to see all of these lovely dogs being put in situations where they are unwelcome, or do harm because the people who adopted them did not plan ahead and make sure they had a good place to let them run. Not everyone is entitled to have a dog. I'd love to have a dog, but I do not have the right situation to make a dog happy. If I ever do, I'll be sure to get one.

Posted by Defend youself, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 9, 2013 at 6:24 am

You can tazer an off leash dog no problem. Just say it approached you in a threatening manner. The owner may call BS, but when the facts come out that the dog was off leash, you'll have no issues.

Posted by Defend Yourself, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 9, 2013 at 6:26 am

Oh, pepper spray too! Then when the owner approaches you angrily, you can share the condiment with them as well. Its really not a problem if we stop ignoring the selfish me-firsters and start defending ourselves and our property.

Posted by DogFreeSchools, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

It's not fair for the children at school to waste their recess wiping off poop from their shoes and clothes and tracking it back onto the classroom carpets where all the kids sit. The dog owners stand around and talk and have no idea that their dog just pooped on the grass field, so it doesn't get picked up. I think schools should be off limits as dog runs.

Posted by 50 yr old PA resident, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 9, 2013 at 10:23 am

There was a time when people let their dogs roam their own backyards to do the business. Lets go back to that.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 9, 2013 at 11:09 am

I have two dogs and am embarrassed by many of the other irresponsible dog owners in Palo Alto. It makes us all look bad. Please keep your dog on a leash and pick up after it. I'm all for a banning dogs on school grounds. People have proven that they are not responsible enough to be trusted with the privilege. It is sadly indicative of how grossly entitled many in Palo Alto have become over the years.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

Another issue with off leash dogs is little rat dogs. Anyone who has seen dogs playing knows that they don't see size, just another dog.

Likewise when dogs mix it up, the little dogs don't think they are little, and big dogs don't think they are big. When your precious little snowflake weighing 8 lbs (whose owners invariably think it is "cute" when they are aggressive) decides to go up and snap and bark at a 65 lb dog with jaws that are 8-9" from condyle to condyle, guess who is going to come out on the wrong end of the encounter.

I don't want the drama and fight over vet bills because someone else is clueless about dog behavior.

Posted by Denese, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 9, 2013 at 11:41 am

Here is something to think about.....
Poo has bacteria and God knows what in it. If you allow your dogs to pee and poo at school in the grass, in the parks in the sand are you saying you could care less about the babies or small children who are in the grass or in the sand.
Yes there should be a fine. What does it take? A child to be mauled by a dog in front of the elite of Palo Alto.
If you want your kids or grand kids to wallow in the grass or sand after your dog poo/pee in it do it in your own yard. But if you don't care about other peoples kids or grand kids have at it. Just remember it is your conscious.

Posted by dOG oWNER, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm

@Dog's Life: The law was created for a reason.
If you want your dog to be able to run in large grassy areas, go to the dog park or a friends acreage, not the schools/kids parks of Palo Alto.

@Palo Alto Resident: If the yard isn't fenced - Leash Your Dog!!
If you don't have the space, You Don't Need A Dog.

@Pibbles: You can't be kidding!
The type of dog has nothing to do with the law. ALL dogs no matter size or breed should be leashed in public... PERIOD!!
And you sound dumb for even mentioning the license - just saying.

Anything can happen, from an attack, to a misunderstanding, to feces in places it shouldn't be, to someone/thing spooking the dog - it running in the street- and being hit by a car! I personally will kick the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of any unleashed dog in my personal space. But sadly it's not the dog's fault... It's their idiot owners'.
No one wants any of these things to happen so Follow the Rules people!!
Leash your Mutts (I mean mutts in such and endearing way).
Why create drama??

You Palo Alto Residents who think you can make your own rules in your little "PaloAltoVille" need a reality check. You aren't special sweetie(s).

By the way, I am an owner of a Male Pit Bull and a Female Chihuahua. They are both great dogs and are very well trained. They get along with each other and others at the dog park. Never had a problem but don't want one either. Again I say, "Size or Breed play no part in the LAW!"

I will keep this number (650-329-2413) on hand (thank you @Donald) and for every dog owner I pass that has an unleashed dog I will definitely ask them to leash it. If they even suggest they have a problem, to the cell phone I go!

Have a nice day :)

Posted by state of equilibrium, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

The reality is that we've reached a state of equilibrium with dogs and their owners in Palo Alto. Dog owners, the city council, and the police agree to turn a blind eye toward dogs off their leashes. In exchange, the owners agree to 1) (mostly) clean up their dog poop, 2) hope that unleashed dogs don't maim anyone, and 3) allow some areas such as Foothill Park to remain completely dog free.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

I have had dogs over the years, and this matter about on and off leash has been around in town for a long time.

I spent 9 years on the City of Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission, concluding my service at the end of 2012. The Commission during my time of service could not crack the code of how to deal with this issue.

I live near an elementary school that has signs posted at the gates about keeping a watch on dogs and cleaning up after them. This sanctions dogs off leash, and is counter to existing Palo Alto law about dogs off leash anywhere in Palo Alto.

The process to figure out what could be an improvement for dog owners and people who need to feel safe when dogs are present is not "a walk in the park." There is a law in PA that dates back to the 1950's that requires all dogs to be on leash at all times, and to change it requires a ballot to be put on the docket for a vote of the people.

Since I have been involved in this from both a City policy standpoint and personal experience as a dog owner, my prognosis is that we are going nowhere on this issue.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

A couple more things.

Long leashes with dogs tied up at benches in park, very bad idea. I have had my legs tied up (not to mention stroller in the past) with these dogs running around on a long leash. They should be banned (not literally but you know what I mean).

Secondly, I get raccoons, skunks, possums roaming around my house. There is no reason to think that they are not defecating in the grass too so don't always assume it is from dogs. Also, I have seen Canada geese take over school fields and park fields and they are also messy.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm

The leash ordinance should be enforced to the extent that when an Animal Services officer or a policeman notice a violation, the dog owner should be ticketed. Since that's going to happen very rarely, mostly due to manpower issues, this ordinance will rarely be enforced. Leaf blowers are much more hazardous to our health and degrade our quality of live much more than a dog relieving itself on your front yard, yet that ordinance is not being enforced at all, so we should keep things in perspective. The vast majority of drivers who blow by stop signs aren't ticketed either.

Dogs have always lived with humans and will continue to do so. They are wonderful animals. Dog owners should certainly be considerate and keep them on leash while in the public domaine and pick up their poop, but those hopping to ban them, or to force dog owners to "pick up all poop remains with their hands", or to prevent dogs from urinating on the sidewalk or on the athletic field are engaged in wishful thinking. Should not happen, not going to happen.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

>There is a law in PA that dates back to the 1950's that requires all dogs to be on leash at all times, and to change it requires a ballot to be put on the docket for a vote of the people.

Paul, why does it matter how long the law has been on the books? It should be a simple matter to put it on a city-wide ballot, at some point, and ask PA citizens to overturn it (or not). In the meantime, some of the dog owners are making a mockery of the law...and this may be their most serious crime, because it says that people can pick and choose which laws they want to obey, no matter what others want in their public spaces.

As a youth, I had several dogs, out on the farm. They ran free, and packed up, at night. They were happy, although some livestock were not. When I moved to the city, I never owned a dog, because I thought it was cruel to them, and made them neurotic to be isolated. Dogs may be their owner's best friend, at least as perceived by their owners, but their owners are not their best friend.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Hi Craig,

I do not know the history of the law around dogs on leash from the PA 1950's, I do know it requires a vote of the people to rescind it.

I spent a ton of time when I was on the Parks and Recreation Commission for 9 years trying to figure this out. I failed.

There is no clearly articulated approach to this issue that presents a superior choice to the status quo. I wish there were one, and I am uncertain that it can be developed.

Without a clear and concise direction that the voters view as an improvement to existing law and practices, we are stuck with what we have.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Hi Paul,

I was informed, from an insider city source, that the main purpose of the Parks & Rec. Commission was to deal with the constant dog issues, because the city council had had it with the constant complaints at city council meetings.. I admire your service, but, on the dog issue, you had no chance (even though you had some decent concepts, like time share on some parks). However, you did a lot of good on various other issues, and I admire you for that.

Full disclosure: Paul and I know each other from youth baseball, back in the day. We also worked together on the Mayfield deal.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

@state of eq: on-leash dogs are allowed in Foothills Park on weekdays.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Dear unleashed dog owner;

If your dog kills my pet, it's not leaving.

Posted by Palo Alto Dog Owner, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Please do not lump all dog owners together.
I have two dogs and have lived in Palo Alto all my life.
I always pick up their poop, and never let them outside without being on a leash.
On the other hand, I know people that don't take any responsibility for their pets, don't get them vaccinated, and don't spay or neuter tham. The animal services department of the police department needs to concentrate on these dogs. They run wild, and are not taken care of. If you have neighbors that you know are not obeying pet regulations, you should report them to Palo Alto animal services. Don't blame all dog owners just because you can. That doesn't solve the problem, which is over-population of dogs, and irresponsible owners.

Posted by Katy, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

After 6:00pm to 9:00pm, There are several off-leash dogs with neighbors in Brionas school campus. Some dogs are big and running all time, so my childresn stopped to going to Briones school after dinner any more

Posted by Green Meadow ace, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Cannot overthrow Dog Leash law, this is a response to some comments above, I believe from Craig, and Paul and others.
yes there is a city law in effect here in Palo Alto (ordinance), but there is also Stale Law that city copied ( State of California leash laws) and National Leash laws as well. besides the local, State and National Legislatives on the issue there is also all levels of the Judiciary
you can never run away from a leash as long as you are not in a Dog Park salvo exception for Service dogs etc.etc. 1980's SF paper: """"""'Long gone from most of America are the days when you could answer a longing whine from your dog by opening the back door and letting it roam the neighborhood at will. Besides the fact that many people live in apartment buildings where back doors open onto upper-story balconies, roaming dogs are considered outlaws almost everywhere, either by state law or by city or county ordinance"""""""
Whatever may be said about the affection which mankind has for a faithful companion, modern city conditions no longer permit dogs to run at large. —California Court of Appeal

Posted by Pardee park and Hoover, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2013 at 11:25 pm

If the Dog leash ordinance is enforced we need to do this equally and include where the ordinance is applicable in areas of Pardee, Hoover and Jordan too.

Posted by cheeseguy, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:13 am

Finally some attention to this issue. For years I have routinely run in an around several local parks. I have been chased by off leash dogs repeatedly. In one case an off leash Golden Retriever ran up to me, jumped with its front paws to to my chest, and nearly sent me to the ground (an older person could literally have been sent backwards and killed from a head injury). If a human had done that it could have earned them a year in county jail for battery. My wife sustained a serious dog bite just walking through our neighborhood on the sidewalk (a dog was hiding behind a car and jumped on her, the city informed us that it was actually the second reported assault by the same dog, the owners let it out off leash). The injury was serious enough to warrant an urgent care visit and a course of antibiotics. We were ultimately given an apology and the dog was removed from the area.
What happens when I politely (nice voice, say please, etc.) ask dog owners to leash the dogs who run up to me? About one in three yells at me, tells me that the law is stupid, at times uses obscenities, and refuses. Another one in three tells me that their dog "is a good dog and would never do anything bad" (the owner of the Golden Retriever above used this line even after the mugging) and refuses. The other one in three complies with my request without problems. Not a very good pattern of response.
FYI, despite the horrible dog attack on the donkey near Bol Park recently, one can routinely find off leash dogs in and around Bol Park in the morning (e.g., 7:15 to 8:15 AM). Go by and take a look if you don't believe me.
It seems that the dog owners will not comply with the law (since there is no sense of shame anymore about openly violating the law, even when others request you to obey it). The only solution would be some random citations by the police (visit any park in he morning and you could write $500 worth of tickets, the city could use the money), posting a few signs about enforcement, and perhaps a police based publicity campaign about enforcement.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2013 at 9:22 am

Thank you for the thoughtful comment above. This is a problem in most Peninsula communities. Most people seem to feel entitled to disobey the leash law.

As I've written several times on this thread and previous threads on this subject -- I walk with a cane, have been knocked down by loose dogs, and am afraid to walk in my neighborhood because of the many loose dogs.

Palo Alto-Menlo Park-Atherton-Redwood City Police, Mayors and City Councils:
RESPOND to this issue now. It's SIMPLE, the laws exist. START giving some tickets. You can raise some $$ for the city, and no one has to die before you take this seriously.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2013 at 9:52 am

While we are at it, is there any type of ordinance about barking dogs?

There are dogs somewhere near my house that are left outside in the yard all day, most days. They bark or whine for long periods of time. I have no idea which house they are from, but I feel so sorry for a dog who is apparently neglected so much by the owner. It starts early in the morning and continues well into the evening so it must disturb most neighbors at some time when they are home. As well as being a noise nuisance, can this be called animal neglect?

Posted by Wiggy, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

First off, I want to state that I adore dogs. And cats. And just about any critter, domestic or wild. But I recognize quite clearly the problems with off-leash dogs. My sister was jogging in our neighborhood years ago and was chased and bitten on her derriere by an off-leash German Shepherd. The dog was sitting in its owners yard when it saw my sister run by and thought she looked either tasty or threatening. The bite drew blood. When we confronted the owners, they laid the blame squarely on my sister ... she shouldn't have been running in front of their house, apparently. It's unbelievable that we even have to have leash laws! In a civilized society where people live in close proximity, things like not making excessive noise or keeping your animal companions from annoying or harming your neighbors (and I'm looking at you, too, people who let their cats wander all creation) should just come out of a sense of courtesy and respect. Never mind "liability!" Just about every dog owner whose dog suddenly goes rogue says afterward, "He's never done that before! He's really well-behaved." Let the dog run around your back yard, use the dog park, get a smaller dog, or maybe, if you can't handle the responsibility, come to the conclusion that not every Palo Altan just has to have a dog as an accessory.

Posted by green meadow ace, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm

about the bark: this issue can be considered Nuisance, If you would like to remain anonymous (the best way) is to call the non emergency number for the Palo alto Police Department and keep calling every time you hear the nuisance.

Posted by Jonathan Swift, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

It seems like a lot of people have come here to tell their anecdote about dogs off leash biting, jumping, or maiming residents. All these people want dogs to stay on a leash, but let me tell you about my story.

Walking along a path, i soon encountered a woman with a leashed dog. Everything appeared fine and dandy until, unprovoked, the dog bit me and drew blood.

So may I offer a modest proposal.

Rather than having these hellfire cerberuses walk among us, we should require that all dog owners be slaughtered and fed to the poor. After all, what use do we see dogs anyway? Sure, they provide joy and happiness to all who own them, and even those who do not receive a benefit from seeing a nice dog come up to you and lick you and think that you are the coolest thing around right then. Such empathetic livestock need not exist.

We talk about stories of bad owners, not training their dog adequately or yelling when someone complains about some dog poop or a dog jumping up to greet someone, but then never remember the time when you got hurt or were having a bad day and the first one to come to your side was a dog.

But back to my plan. Killing dogs would be a very good investment. Not only would it create more jobs, but it would provide great quantities of food for those who are in need. Once the original stock of owners has been cleared, we would have to take care of possible future dog owners. We would give children tests to see whether they prefer the cat or the dog at a very early age (I think that with technology, we could get the testing age to 3 weeks, hardly enough time for conditioning) and snatch them up for processing.

My enemies would have you believe that wide open spaces for dogs encourage better growth, make the dog feel more at home, and that there are elementary schools "that [have] signs posted at the gates about keeping a watch on dogs and cleaning up after them. This sanctions dogs off leash, and is counter to existing Palo Alto law about dogs off leash anywhere in Palo Alto." What do you need all that space for anyway? Playing catch with your well-deserved dog as thanks for waiting all day for you? A breath of fresh air over the controlled environment that is required everywhere else? What malarkey.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Does anyone still know who Jonathan Swift was, let alone heard of A Modest Proposal? Hope you haven't overestimated your audience.

Posted by P.A. Native, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Meanwhile kids are slaughtering one another a mile away from this petty dog argument.

Nice priorities citizens of Palo Alto. And to think how angry I used to get when people called it "Shallow" Alto. I was just too young to understand.

Posted by AMneighbor, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I don't even like dogs much but i have been running in the park since 1991 and have RARELY seen any dogs off leash. This seems like more whining like we get about our much needed cell tower.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm

In Palo Alto it's illegal to sell artificially colored rabbits. It's illegal (since 1955!) to hold a liquidation sale without a permit from the chief of Police. It is illegal to work at a bowling alley if you're not "of good character". Frys can sell color TVs wrapped in a yard of foam, but Safeway can't sell a salad wrapped in non-recyclable plastic.

You can't make this stuff up!

My point: a few dog haters are getting in a lather about one law, when the City has hundreds of other laws to get busy enforcing. I'm really proud to live in a town that's banned the colored bunny trade, and hope animal services has an active bunny trade unit.

Posted by lina, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

Not one comment re. communicating with dogs or what your own behavior might be.

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Love the Jonathan Swift and a "Modest Proposal" comment.

Most dog owners are re responsible and pick up after their pets. More people come up and comment on what a neat dog we have and we've never gotten a negative comment.

I'd rather see the police focus on more important crimes and the parents dropping off their kids who feel they're entitled to block driveways and show absolutely no remorse. Maybe the "Modest Proposal" can be applied to entitled mothers and children?

They've killed more pedestrians than dogs ever have. Dogs don't text while driving.

Posted by great message, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm

The town Square provided a great message to dog owners in general. I think Dog Owners got the message from the majority of people who posted here asking them to follow the law. Non dog owners will still be courteous but hopefully ware of the Police Non Emergency number:
Call (650) 329-2413 to report non-emergencies such as:
To report a crime that is not in progress or did not just occur.
An injured animal.
A noise complaint.
Fallen tree limbs.
*Dog running free ( this one was not in the list) but as pointed before it is the right number to call in this situation

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