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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Could San Francisco Limit Number of Dogs in Parks?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 4:59 AM

click to enlarge Too many puppies!
  • Too many puppies!

On Monday we reported that nearby Foster City is considering limiting park-goers to no more than three dogs.

San Franciscans have a thing for dogs the same way denizens of Punxsutawney, Penn have a thing for apocryphally psychic groundhogs. Surely you couldn't legally restrict San Franciscans from taking as many dogs as they damn well please into a park, could you?

Well, roll us over. You damn well can -- you can't prevent locals from declaring a vicious and dangerous dog a service animal. But you can tell them how many animals they can take to the park.

Rebecca Katz is the head of the city's Department of Animal Care and Control -- as well as a former city attorney and, not insignificantly, a dog-owner.

She notes that proposals first broached by the city's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare to limit professional dog-walkers to seven beasts at a time are still wending their way through the legislative process. Most park-goers, she thinks, wouldn't have a problem with limiting dog-walkers to seven animals. That sounds like pack enough for city property.

As far as touching on non-professionals, Katz notes that the city already explicitly limits the number of dogs you can own. There it is, right in Section 37A of the Health Code:

Number of animals. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to keep or feed, or cause to be kept or fed, or permit to be kept or fed, on any premises over which any such person, firm or corporation may have control within residential districts, (1) more than three dogs of age six months or older without obtaining a proper permit and license to operate a dog kennel as defined in Section 220 of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code, and (2) more than a total of four of the following in any combination: dogs of age six months or older unless part of a dog kennel, hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, game birds of any species, or cats.

If the city can already tell you how many dogs is too many for your own home, why shouldn't it be able to limit the number of hounds on public land? In fact, the Mission Bay dog park Katz frequents on Redevelopment Agency land over on King and Seventh has a sign limiting the number of animals parkgoers can bring in.

Could dog runs operated by the Park and Recreation Department do the same? Why not? And, it warrants mentioning, the Park Codes specifically note that, if a sign asks you do do something, you damn well better do it:


No person shall willfully disobey the notices, prohibitions or directions on any sign posted by the Recreation and Park Commission or the Recreation and Park Department.

Looks like "Three Dog Night" is pushing the limits of the law.

Photo   |   Dregsplod

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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