Dog owners are getting politically-minded in SF

They say every dog has its day. In San Francisco, a growing group of politically-minded dog owners certainly hopes it's true for them. CBS News correspondent John Blackstone has their story.

Andrea Buffa and Ruben Garcia, along with Marissa and Pancho, could be considered a typical San Francisco family of four: two humans, two dogs.

"We don't have any kids," said Buffa, "but we have two dogs."

"An urban couple with dogs?" asked Blackstone.

"Yes that's us.*

In San Francisco dogs outnumber children. As many as 140,000 dogs compared to fewer than 108,000 kids.

"I think a lot of people who want to start a family move to the suburbs," said Buffa, "so that's probably why we have more dogs than kids."

Now the city's dog owners is no longer content just exercising their pets. They have started exercising their political power.

Bruce Wolfe is the president of a political action committee appropriately named DOGPAC. He said: "If a dog could vote, we think they would vote with our endorsements."

DOGPAC has been "vetting" candidates in San Francisco's November municipal election. Among those running for mayor, they have chosen John Avalos as dogs' best friend -- even though he doesn't have one.

"I love dogs and I wish I had more time to spend with them," said Avalos. "It's a big endorsement, it's an endorsement that I sought, and I also want to do good work and have a relationship with DOGPAC."

Avalos supports DOGPAC's big issue: nothing less than liberty...the liberty to run free in some of the city's biggest parks.

"We're actual people with all these dogs and they're part of our families and we don't want to be restricted," said Wolfe.

One of the parks where dog freedom is threatened is Fort Funston, along the Pacific at San Francisco's south end. The one-time military base is now a battleground.

"It's a place where people have been taking their dogs off leash for decades," said Sally Stephens, who leads SF Dog, a dog owners' group that has joined DOGPAC in promoting canine-friendly candidates. She says the fight is as much about humans as it is about dogs.

"The restrictions on dogs end up being restrictions on the people who have the dogs," said Stephens.

And now the people who have dogs in San Francisco have been unleashed as a political force. Politicians may be begging for their support.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.