One of the largest constituencies in Los Gatos is barking up a storm these days over the town's lack of an ordinance related to off-leash activities in local parks.
The town, with approximately 12,500 households, is said to have conservatively 9,000 canine friends residing within its boundaries.
"There are many of us who believe that responsible dog ownership is not only important, but actually good for Los Gatos," said Jonathan Knowles Monday evening speaking before the Los Gatos Town Council about placing the issue on their agenda for discussion.
As project lead for Los Gatos Unleashed, Knowles works with other community volunteers to promote the town's dog-friendly nature, encouraging responsible dog ownership and educating people about the benefits of off-leash activities for dogs.
Knowles is the proud father of a Welsh terrier named Winnie."We're known for being a dog friendly community, most shops and restaurants serve water and goodies for the pooches," he said. However, the town lacks an off-leash ordinance, which leaves many dog owners wondering where and when it's OK for them to let their dogs run loose and have healthy play time.
Knowles said the issue is bubbling up elsewhere. In San Carlos, the city is testing a program that allows dogs to run free in public parks during certain hours. In San Francisco, a federal ranger tasered a man walking his dogs off-leash at Golden Gate National Park.
"It's time that we step up and really think about what we can do for off-leash activities for dogs here in Los Gatos before we start to see any of these kinds of things happening," Knowles said.
The Los Gatos Parks Commission is scheduled to hear the item tonight at 6 p.m. at the Parks and Public Works building, 41 Miles Ave.
Vice Mayor Barbara Spector asked that the issue be placed on the Council's agenda by the end of March.
Rob Rennie, chairman of the Los Gatos Parks Commission, said dogs are currently not allowed off-leach at any of the town's parks.
The town helped pay for the Los Gatos Creek County Dog Park in Campbell, but other than that location, town canine owners have no other spot to take their pooches to let them roam free, Rennie explained.
He said things the commission could consider is whether to allow dogs in certain parts of town such as public parks and hours for off-leash time, among others.
Rennie said the issue has surfaced because many Los Gatos dog owners love to give their pets free exercise and play time and the task becomes difficult when residents have more than one animal on a leash or they're elderly since they could get tied up together, which becomes dangerous to the pooches and the owners.
Recently, too, the town ranger has been asking residents to keep their dogs leashed, even when they're not being disruptive and just playing, Rennie said.
"A lot of the community is coming to say 'Can we fix this ... the fact that we aren't supposed to have dogs off leash,' " said the proud owner of a puppy who's taking obedience and social classes.
"We don't allow that [off-leash activities] easily in this town. If they [dog owners] can't do it in the parks, they sneak over to the schools and do it," he said.