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Animal Law

Lawyer for dog walkers debates park leash rule intended to protect breeding newts

Posted Jan 7, 2014 6:17 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A California newt. Image from Shutterstock.

Corrected: Bicyclists who use a road through a San Francisco area park during newt mating season are a bigger threat to the amphibians than unleashed dogs, their walkers contend.

Yet bicyclists are allowed to use South Park Drive in Tilden Park during a period when it is closed to vehicular traffic. Meanwhile, dog walkers are being asked to leash their pets to protect the little orange-bellied newts, Berkleyside reports.

Attorney Rena Rickles is representing dog walkers, pro bono, in an effort to persuade East Bay Regional Park District to take down signs that went up in November requiring dogs to be leashed. She says the EBRPD lacked legal authority to put up the signs.

As a practical matter, enforcement of the new leash rule may be difficult, the article points out, because police vehicles are covered by the roadway's driving ban.

Updated on Jan. 8 to reflect that newts are amphibians, not reptiles.

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