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Dog Owners Hit The Streets To Protest Plan To Reduce Off-Leash Park Areas

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Dog lovers marched through the streets of San Francisco Saturday to protest a plan by the National Park Service that would significantly reduce off-leash dog walking areas.

The event was hailed as the Mighty Mutt March.

With a sign in one hand and a leash in the other, hundreds marched with their pups at San Francisco's Crissy Field.

These dog owners believe there aren't enough off-leash or dog friendly areas as it is. The proposed changes would cut down off-leash access in popular areas for dog owners including Fort Funston and Crissy Friend.

"People have been walking their dogs in these areas, you know the last 70, 100 years like this and suddenly they want to cut it now," said Amy Poon from the advocacy group Save Our Recreation.

"They just don't understand cities," said dog owner Huey Johnson. "They really ought to be someplace else and let the state Park Agency or somebody else run it."

In February the National Park Service proposed limits on dog walking in the Golden Gate National Recreation area.

"We feel like we should share because we are only occupying less than one percent of the GGNRA," says Poon. "In 99 percent of the areas dogs really aren't allowed."

The National Park Service said the changes take into account competing park interests, protect wildlife and make parks safer.

But supporters say say changes hurt more than help. Supervisor Scott Weiner agrees.

"They are just wrong on this issue and these dramatic restrictions and reductions to dog access it's going to have a profound impact."

The changes would cut 90% of off-leash areas and about half of on-leash areas.

"It makes the city go backwards and seem like an inhospitable place," says Johnson. "Why would you want to live some place that doesn't like dogs?"

The National Park Service did not respond to our request for comment.

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