Foster City allows more dogs to go off-leash

Starting Sept. 1, Foster City officials will reward well-mannered pooches with a new place for leash-free frolicking — Farragut Park.

But the right to romp may be temporary, Foster City Parks and Recreation Department Director Kevin Miller said. Until Nov. 30, dogs may be exercised off-leash from 5 to 7:30 a.m. as part of a trial program to evaluate the impact on the park and the neighborhood.

When the trial concludes, city officials will decide whether to make the policy permanent. The final decision will be made by the City Council in January.

In addition to a fenced dog run at Boat Park, Foster City has off-leash hours from 5 to 8 a.m. at four parks — Edgewater Park, Boothbay Park, Catamaran Park and Sea Cloud Park. Farragut’s hours will end a half-hour earlier based on concerns from dog owners who didn’t want unleashed animals approaching their leashed pets, Miller said.

The success of early-morning off-leash hours at other parks led to the trial run at Farragut.

“We have a very, very successful record regarding dogs off-leash at the four parks. In a 10-year history, we’ve had zero incidents. No dog bites, no conflicts. We found that the people who use those areas are very responsible because they don’t want to jeopardize the privilege,” Miller said.

Farragut Park will be closely watched during the trial period, Miller said, including daily checks by city maintenance workers, volunteers and neighbors. They will be watching to ensure people clean up after their dogs and keep them under voice control.

Jeff Fong, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission who uses the off-leash hours at Boothbay Park with his Labrador retriever, Koby, said Foster City dog owners tend to police one another, especially when it comes to cleaning up after their pets.

“We keep each other honest,” he said.

Spending a Sunday morning at Farragut Park with his grandson, V.S. Sundaram said he was in favor of off-leash recreation aslong as the city stuck with the early hours.

“I’m scared of dogs myself, but I think the early morning would be fine. The kids all come later and there aren’t many people here,” he said, adding that many Foster City residents own dogs but seem to have good control of their pets.

His grandson, 8-year-old Saddharth Sundaram, was not as enthusiastic.

“They sniff me and lick me all the time and I don’t like it,” Saddharth said.

tbarak@examiner.com


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