Glen Canyon Coyote Hazards
Fans of off-leash dog walks in San Francisco’s Glen Canyon Park should be alert to two potential hazards: the coyotes who roam the woods and the citations handed out by City Recreation and Park Department police.
It’s long been illegal to walk dogs off-leash in the popular park, but ticketing has been on the upswing since June, when a small off-leash dog was carried off by a coyote. San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) says the agency’s decision to actively enforce the leash-only policy is meant to protect both dogs and coyotes.
Five years ago, two coyotes were “dispatched” by U.S. Department of Agriculture officers when they allegedly attacked a pair of leashed dogs in Golden Gate Park. Since then, SFACC has learned more about co-existence with the curious canids. Coyotes are especially protective of their dens during breeding season, from April through August.
Now, SFACC’s focus is on whether a coyote’s reported behavior is “acceptable.” Chasing an off-leash dog wandering too close to a den is considered acceptable, harassing a leashed dog on a park trail is not.
Many Glen Park regulars prefer to let their dogs get some welcome off-leash exercise while enjoying one of the City’s precious pockets of wilderness. Just keep in mind that all freedoms come with risks.
Prisoners Perk Up PHS Pups
Some problem canine residents at the Peninsula Humane Society (PHS) are getting new leashes on life, thanks to an unusual set of understanding friends: the two-legged residents at the minimum-security Maple Street Complex Facility in Redwood City.
In this win-win partnering, dogs whose behavior problems make them unadoptable undergo an eight-week intensive training program at the jail, moving in and spending up to 16 hours a day with their inmate handlers. The prisoners socialize the dogs and teach them basic good manners that can help them appeal to adopters. In the process, the prisoners learn valuable life lessons of their own.
“These are dogs that aren’t thriving in the shelter, for whatever reason,” says Maria Eguren, PHS director of training and behavior. “But over here, it’s like they’re in a home. They do much better. Everyone’s morale goes up.”
To date, 40 dogs have been rehabilitated with the help of 79 convicts. All 40 dogs have gone on to forever homes, some moving in with their handlers after release. Other formerly problem pups have been adopted by deputies, guards, and jail staff.
Berkeley Vet Pioneers New Treatment for Poisoning
A Berkeley veterinarian and a Santa Cruz doctor have announced a new lifesaving procedure for dogs who ingest Death Cap mushrooms. Death Caps, the most poisonous toadstools in the world, are common in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they’re usually found growing from the roots of live trees. As their name suggests, ingesting Death Caps is nearly always fatal, claiming many victims, both canine and human, each year. The doctors hope the new technique can save people as well as pets.
In July, Kasey, a miniature Australian Shepherd from Richmond, was brought to Veterinarian Mike Barlia at PETS Referral Center in Berkeley after exhibiting signs of mushroom poisoning. Dr. Barlia confirmed the diagnosis and told Kasey’s guardians to expect the worst. But he didn’t want to give up, so he called a poison hotline. His research led him to Dr. Todd Mitchell, who is heading a nationwide clinical trial of an antidote for mushroom poisoning in humans.
Dr. Mitchell explained that the new experimental drug was not available to animals, but he suggested an alternative.
“I told [Barlia] to find the gallbladder where the toxins accumulate, use a needle and syringe and drain it,” Mitchell told reporters. A similar but more complicated procedure, in which the gallbladder is drained through a tube for several days, has worked in humans, but no one had tried the needle technique on a person or an animal.
Dr. Barlia performed the procedure, it was a success, and Kasey recovered a few days later. In cases when poison victims do not have access to the antidote, Mitchell and Barlia are now recommending the needle technique for both dogs and humans.