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Canine Political Clout
Dog issues may influence San Francisco election

San Francisco is named after St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and is about as dog friendly as a city can be. It has beautiful dogs parks and many restaurants and stores allow dogs. I guess it makes sense in a city with more dogs than children that the residents of San Francisco take dogs and their interests seriously.

The formation of the political action committee DogPAC is one of many signs of the political clout of dogs, or at least their guardians, in San Francisco. The group formed in order for people to promote the interests of their dogs, particularly being allowed to run off leash in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This park is over twice the size of the city itself and is enjoyed by many dogs and their people.

According to DogPAC’s president, Bruce Wolfe, people with an interest in dog issues will have a big impact on the election of the next mayor. Members expect mayoral candidates to address canine issues, including the Park Service’s proposal to require leashes in some parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and to fence off some popular areas for dog walking. The reason for these changes is concern about approximately 1,200 native species of plants and animals, including the endangered Snowy Plover, which consistently disappears in areas where dogs are allowed.,

Other canine issues matter to San Franciscans, and earlier this week, 7 of the 16 candidates running for mayor attended DogPAC’s forum. They answered questions on all things canine: pet-friendly rental housing, the cost of dog licenses and trash cans in parks to dispose of pet waste. Some websites include sections detailing how candidates stand on canine-related issues.

Has your vote ever been influenced by dog issues?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

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