The dog fight continues in San Francisco. After revelations and push back, the National Park Service is putting the Dog Management plan on hold indefinitely.
The new guidelines were set to be finalized yesterday, but after a lawsuit from dog advocacy groups, pressure from Congress and information coming to light, the federal agency will conduct an internal review.
“The decision comes in response to requests from members of Congress to extend the waiting period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement. This pause will also allow the National Park Service to conduct a review of certain records being released in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to the park’s Dog Management plan and rule,” the NPR wrote in a press release.
Dog advocacy groups have been fighting tooth and nail with the National Park Service for 15 years over off-leash and on-leash dog areas in the Golden Gate National Park Area, which covers 100,000 acres.
Late last year, NPR finally made its ruling – and dog owners were not happy. As we reported earlier, some of the changes included the 7.2 miles of beach area dogs are allowed to be reduced to 2.8 miles. The Fort Funston dog-friendly off-leash area to go from 85 acres to 35. Also, Crissy Field’s dog-friendly area would be reduced to 40 percent of the space.
Dog lovers weren’t going to take this lying down.
Earlier this month a site called WoofieLeaks launched by dog advocacy groups Save Our Recreation, SFDOG, Marin County DOG and Coastside DOG of San Mateo County to show what they believe was a bias in the ruling.
“Many of the documents on this site raise serious questions and concerns about the National Park Service’s record keeping practices, collaboration with external groups, and ability to conduct a fair planning process. Documents call into doubt the agency’s compliance with numerous laws,” the Woofieleaks.com website states.
Among the documents on the site, there is allegedly communication between the park service officials forming a relationship with environmental groups to push forward on decreasing the number of dog-friendly spots in GGNRA. (Environmental groups believe dogs are ruining the habitat in GGNRA.)
There is also an email exchange on WoofieLeaks about the dog community that says, “Everyone: Please delete this and the previous message. These conversations are best done by phone.” (Government agencies, including the National Park Service, need to legally keep all records.)
The documents were provided after the dog advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service for failing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. They claimed that the park service was “slow walking” its answers to inquiries for data made by the group.
The NPR also admitted in its press release that a former employee used his personal computer to communication about the Dog Management plan.
Besides the animal advocacy groups, three people in Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have requested a hold the Dog Management plan.
The agency states it has now released more than 260,000 pages of documents dating as far back as 1999 in response to the FOIA request.