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Get your dog-walking done now, because soon furry friends may not be welcome in national parks.
The National park Service is reviewing its pet policy that gives dogs free off-leash reign in certain areas. The existing policy dates back to 1979, when a variety of abandoned military installations were transformed into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Dog lovers love that they can take their pets off-leash, but the animals have been shown to cause environmental damage. Rare plants and animals have been crushed, hunted, and eaten by dogs. And then there's the issue of messes left un-picked-up.
Dog owners aren't unsympathetic to the concerns. Many of the people who bring their dogs to the recreation area care deeply about its stewardship, and just want to find common ground.
The park service won't say what options it's currently considering, other than that it's looking at a variety of possible policies. They might even wind up not changing anything at all.
Among the changes that have been proposed are more fenced-in areas to contain the dogs.
San Francisco's dog-policy debates are notoriously rancorous. At one point, the Board of Supervisors considered kicking out the federal government and seizing parkland after an owner was cited for off-leash pets.
Once the NPS announces its proposed rule change, there will be three months for public comment, and then they'll compile a final report. Whatever winds up happening, it's sure to stir up plenty of debate.