Sheesh, Get a Leash!

No one is immune to this law - and all it takes is one bad incident.


There’s a leash law in San Mateo County.

When out in public, your dog needs to be leashed and under your control unless you’re in a designated off-leash dog park.

Some people have trouble with the first part of this. I see people running with dogs, sans leash, and people walking on busy streets with unleashed dogs.  

For many of them, it comes down to this: they don’t want to bother because their dog minds them, or they think it’s pretty cool to be that guy – the guy who can show everyone else that his dog is so well-behaved, he doesn’t need a leash.

Don’t be that guy.

Taking a chance like that with your loved dog is about as cool as wearing sunglasses inside. Jack Nicholson gets away with it; the rest of us look like jack_ _ _ _ _.

Of course, dogs should have time to be off-leash, even though a long, brisk walk on-leash is underrated. But, their leash-free time should be in a place that’s also free of hazards. All it takes is that one time for a so-called "voice-controlled" dog to encounter something that tests this control, like a cat, squirrel or skateboarder.

Our Humane Society officers are responsible for enforcing the leash law and for responding to calls for loose or stray dogs, and dogs hit by cars.  

I can’t stand the sight of an injured animal. I’m the guy in the movie theater who’s thinking “don’t hurt the dog!” to the burglar or bad guy on screen.

But, for our officers, seeing injured animals is a daily occurrence. When they stop someone disregarding the leash law, it’s for good reason. Generally, they won’t issue a citation. But, a repeat offender or nasty person can change that.  

For the most part, we subscribe to the “get more flies with honey” adage.  Our officers see themselves more as educators than enforcers, because they firmly believe that this is the best approach to ensure animals’ safety and the public’s safety.

In my opening, I said some people have trouble with the first part of the leash law - the being on-leash part. There’s also the “under your control” part.  

I’m going to ruffle feathers, but here goes. Let’s make flexi-leads illegal.

Granted, some people use them responsibly and tighten up the slack when they are in heavily trafficked areas. Other people are clueless, and let their dog spool out 15-20 feet ahead or to the side.  If this dog bites someone, or causes someone to fall off a bike, witnesses would say the owner clearly did not have his/her dog under control and the owner would be responsible, even though his/her dog was on-leash.

Absolute worst case: a dog allowed to walk with his owner off-leash runs into the street, is struck and killed by a motorist, who swerves to avoid the dog and hits something or someone else.  The dog owner loses his dog and is responsible for all damages caused by the driver.

I can’t end with that awful scenario. Here’s something much better.  

If you enjoy walking your dog on leash and want to help the Peninsula Humane Society provide much-deserved second chances for stray or unwanted animals who arrive at the shelter with medical or behavioral conditions, sign up for our August 18th "Mutt Strutt" dog walk-a-thon.  Visit http://www.phs-spca.org/ for more information.

It’s $26 to register. We also kindly ask that you collect donations from friends in support of you, your dog and the cause: our shelter’s good work. All funds raised benefit our Hope Program, which enables us to make these animals well and then place them into new loving homes.

Currently, we meet about 200 animals every month, and the medical cases are often the easy ones.  Broken spirits are much harder to fix than broken bones.

If all registrants collect $10 from 10 friends, we’ll have our most successful Mutt Strutt by a mile. And, you don’t need a mutt to strut - folks can take the meandering 3k stroll through pristine trails in Coyote Point Park without a dog.

And you guys, of course, don’t need a leash. Would be kinda weird if you had one.

Laura McHugh July 29, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I keep my dogs on leash when I walk because it is too stressful worrying that something will happen to them if they are off leash. I got some amazing round nylon cord leashes from PHS's shop in Hillsdale, before it closed. Maybe they are still available at their new shelter location. They are lightweight and give a bit, but are a fixed length. They are a great alternative to the retractable ones, which I don't care for.
HMB Dreaming July 29, 2012 at 11:52 PM
I think too many people think of leashes as being restraints when they really are safety equipment -- for the dog. A friend's dog took a header over the edge while walking off-leash on the bluffs above Mavericks. One collapsed lung, one broken leg, two broken ribs later was enough to teach that lesson. I am a dog owner and lover who never takes his dogs off leash unless in a fenced or designated area, all for my dogs' sake.
John July 30, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Hate seeing some selfish dog owners walk their dogs without leashes. They should be fined heavily to protect the dogs and other pedestrians, esp the joggers.
CommonSense July 30, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Let's put all kids on a leash, too! God forbid a child get loose from a parent and run into the street or fall off a cliff. Even one hurt child is too many. We must keep kids close at all times - no swinging - no playing on the monkey bars - no running - it's just too dangerous!
Tom July 30, 2012 at 04:56 AM
CommonSense, you are comparing an animal to a human being? Get a grip....
Annie July 30, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Tom, Granted this isn't a conversation about children, but the same rule applies.For many of them, it comes down to this: they don’t want to bother because their child minds them. Apparently you didn't have a child that bolted and didn't want to be confined. Home is one thing, in a busy crowed place, it actually gives the child more freedom and the child learns boundaries. It is common practice in Europe, and their children are much better behaved than American children, (Children are human animals).
M Z July 30, 2012 at 07:44 AM
As a former dog / cat owner, we leashed our dog. My friend's oldest was jumped by a unleashed dog when he was 2. He still gets freaked out over dogs not leashed. I think it is safest for the dog and everyone around. Now I wish pet owners would follow the rules on no dogs in parks (we have a dog park). This does not mean that the rest of Commodore is also a dog park and I wish Dog owners would pick up after their beloved pets. I still pick up after dogs even though mine has gone to doggy heaven. I dearly can not stand seeing dog poop. Kids are at the park to play, not worry they are going to step in it.
Katheryn Weaver July 30, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Well said , as an owner of a long standing pet care business . I am 1,000 percent behind this article...Too many times people have blinders on about leashes ,esp. retractable leashes ...What people refuse to look at is the concept that you have your dog on a retractable leash you have no control over your dog . Sure, you can bring them in , but all it takes is that one or two seconds when the unpredictable can happen .. People need to be pro active , intead of reactive when it comes to common sense of having thier dogs out in public ...Thankyou Scott for bringing up a very Elephant in the room subject ...
Richard Hobaugh July 30, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I walk my dog on a leash everyday on the Spur Trail next to Mills HS. Dogs off a leash are not nearly the problem that human beings present. Many times my dog and I have been nearly run over by a speeding bicyclist. We have to watch our step to avoid stepping on broken beer bottles or human waste deposited by the homeless who roam the area. We have to observe baseball players who attempt to relieve themselves next to the playing field. Lets face it, humans are the problem, not the dogs.
dorothea July 30, 2012 at 02:50 PM
even the best behaved dog can be distracted and end up in a dangerous situation . you are a fool to think otherwise. i hope no out there loses their pet because they thought they were above it all.
Humane Jermaine July 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM
What's the matter with you off-leash nutcases? Can't you play fertch with your dog on a leash? I do. Great exercise for both of us. Looks a bit strange to the unitiated, but it really is the way the game is supposed to be played. About time some of you seniors and disabled people got off your butts, anyway. No excuse to EVER take your dog off a leash. And stop complaining you don't have a place to take your dog. Pacifica has a dog park. And anyone who makes the lame argument that the 1/2 acre pen located in the southernmost part of town is not convenient to the majority of Pacificans and is too small to accommodate the 10,000 dogs in this town, and that the restricted hours (opens at 10 AM and closed Tuesdays) doesn't help those who feel the need to exercise their family pets 3 times a day, well you are just being plain selfish and that's not right. I have kids and I keep them locked up in their room all day. Why can't you do the same with your dogs? Sheesh...
Rebecca Lorenz July 30, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I've been bitten once by a small dog on a retractable leash. I was walking on the sidewalk and the dog ran about 12 feet from its owner, jumped up and bit me. Owner was angry with me for getting bitten. I had to waste my time going to the doctor and getting medicine. Retractable leashes do nothing if the owner pays no attention to the dog. On Linda Mar Beach recently a woman had her small black poodle and Lhasa Apso or something off-leash. As I walked by, I stopped to shake stones out of my shoe, then kept walking. They barked and came closer and closer so I told her to get them away. She merely sat there on the sand half-heartedly telling them to stop. She could not even bother to get up. I've had 4 dogs myself and have no problem with dogs.
Avery Allen July 30, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Thank you, Scott Delucchi, for this article. I ride the Coastside Trail on my bike and was down by the area of Seymore Bridge at the end of the trail when two dogs running off leash ran into me full speed. I was knocked off and landed on my back, hip, and head. Yes, the owner was very sorry, but she would have paid dearly if I had been severely hurt. The sad part is that the people who will not put their dogs on leash send the message to other dog owners that it is ok to not leash their dogs. It is safer for dogs and for people when dogs are leashed. And it is the law!
Cheryl Dickinson July 30, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Hum ban Flexi Leashes, good luck with that! Let's ban safe and sane fireworks too! I'd give up my Flexi Leash for the Firework Ban! People acting poorly or uneducated about proper dog care or respect for other humans is what is ruining it for most of us that do take proper care of our dogs, waste and play time. I am all for the leash law, sorry for everyones bad experiance with dogs around town. Some people need to be educated about proper dog care. Not all Flexi leashes are bad. It is people not paying attention. It also happens with human kids, parents not paying attention. Not all parents are like that! I am off to see the good in all:)
Cheryl Dickinson July 30, 2012 at 07:40 PM
:) kids are kids
Sarah Silverman August 15, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Hey, I'm a bit out of your area but wonder if anyone is following up on the fate of the dog that belongs to the woman arrested for stabbing the guy in the lot behind Safeway. All articles mention that she was living In a van with her dog. In most cases of arrest the vehicle is impounded...often resulting in the owner not being able to retrieve it due to impound costs. But worse yet, what about her dog? Can someone in HMB follow up on this, or perhaps your heroes have already done so!!! Thanks!!!!
michelle jacob March 18, 2013 at 01:33 AM
There should be no problem with having your dog off leash in an open space, like a field or large area at the beach with no one around to distract you or the dog. However it is courteous to put your dog on its leash and it a lie down position when others walk by with or without a dog that look uneasy. I have a white boxer, which is easily mistaken for a pitt bull or american bulldog and he loves to socialize, but only when the feeling is mutual with the other animal and owner. My large breed dog has been attacked or ran up on by a small dog and bit in the face or on the legs plenty of times. Animals are creatures of habbit and are scared just as much as their owners are. The more relaxed at at ease you are around your pet and re-assure them that they are alright, the better we will all be. People need to get a grip on reality. It is a BIG world and there are TONS of people with pets out there...just be courteous and respectful, do not be a jerk and act like a victim. Small dogs are just as dangerous as large dogs as well as being intimidated...it has nothing to do with the animals size, but it has everything to do with the animals intent.


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