Snow Park Dog Play Area on Agenda for Sept. 11

Aerial Shot of Snow ParkThe proposed dog park at Snow Park (19th & Harrison) is finally on the agenda for the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) for Wednesday, September 11, 4:30 pm. According to the PRAC Staff Report, staff is recommending that the Committee accept the approval of the Minor Conditional Use Permit for this project.

The Snow Park site is the spot that Mayor Quan, along with the Parks and Recreation Department, identified as an alternative to the Lakeview Park location (Lakeshore and MacArthur), that City Council deadlocked on last December.

Snow Park is a lovely spot, and an ideal location for a neighborhood dog park, and would serve the Lake Merritt area well. The addition of the dog park would be part of a complete overhaul of the park: adding park space, improving existing amenities, removing a road, and making it more accessible to the parkland across the street at the lake. As with any project in Oakland, there are a few people against it, and this dog park project, along with the overall improvements to Snow Park is no different.

We know we’ve asked you to come to many meetings, and we’re going to ask one more time. Please take time to come to this meeting. We’re way down on the agenda, so if you can’t make it for the start of the meeting, that’s OK. Just come! The project’s opponents will definitely be there. Remember to fill out a speaker’s card when you arrive, even if you don’t want to speak. You can always cede your time to someone else.

As always, we thank you for your continued support! Hopefully we’ll be socializing in this flagship dog park very soon!

WHEN: Wed., Sept 11. Meeting starts at 4:30, but we’re way down on the agenda

WHERE: Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave


What Service Dog Really Means

Recently, KQED hosted a radio forum called “Is the Bay Area Too Dog Friendly.” It ended up being a bashing session for people to complain about a handful of irresponsible dog owners, and the perceived misuse of Service Dog status. ODOG invited T. Christina Jacobs, who is training Saxon, her Staffordshire Bull Terrier to help with her invisible disability, and works toward educating the public about service dogs, to write an article about service dogs, “fakers,” and what the law says about service dogs.
What a Service Dog Really Means
Saxon the Stafford service dog

Saxon practicing his leave-it skills.

By T.Christina Jacobs

There is a lot of information and misinformation out there about Service Dogs (SDs). Most people believe there is some sort of certification or license required for a dog to be a SD, many believe that SDs can only help people who are blind, many believe that dogs must be trained by an organization or program in order to be SDs, and many seem to think that SDs must be certain breeds in order to be legitimate. In reality, all of this is false. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), there is no nationally recognized license or certification required for SDs or their handlers, SDs can be trained to assist individuals with many different kinds of disabilities both physical and mental, individuals may train their own SDs and any breed (or mix breed) of dog can be a SD as long as the dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for his disabled handler.The ADA is written in that way in order to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to have access to SDs. Many people who need SDs may have financial troubles, which would make it hard to pay for a program trained dog (which can cost several thousand dollars out of pocket) or a licensing/certification fee. It is also more cost effective for some people to be able to use smaller breeds as SDs in order to save money on food and other expenses. The ADA specifically allows for owner trainers (OT) and doesn’t limit the breed(s) allowed to be SDs because the ADA is all about inclusion and allowing disabled individuals to have the best chance possible at a normal life.

Despite the ADA explicitly saying that an individual must be legally disabled in order to have a SD and the dog must be individually trained to do work and perform tasks in order to be a SD, there are people who take advantage of the public’s lack of knowledge about the ADA and fake SDs in order to gain access to public places with their (often untrained) pets. Despite this being illegal in most states, and morally wrong, it seems to be getting more common. “Fakers” (the term the SD community uses to describe individuals who don’t have a real need for a SD) can make life for people with legitimate SDs much more difficult. Businesses who have experienced poorly behaved dogs being passed off as SDs may be more hesitant to allow legitimate teams into their establishment, members of the public who were allowed to pet a dog being passed off as a SD may pet and distract a legitimate SD causing his disabled handler to become sick or injured, people may be frightened by a poorly behaved pet dog being passed off as a SD making them believe that all SDs are poorly behaved and something to be feared. For these reasons and more, faking a Service Dog is wrong and shouldn’t be done, no matter how well behaved a pet dog may be.

That said, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that an individual is a “faker” because the person doesn’t “look disabled” or the dog doesn’t “look like a Service Dog.” As noted earlier, dogs of all breeds and sizes can be SDs and they can be trained to help individuals with many different disabilities. Many are not aware that SDs can successfully be trained to assist people with psychiatric and emotional disabilities as well as physical ones. There have been SDs trained for PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, Panic Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Schizophrenia and many others. As long as there is a limitation that a dog can be trained to help with, there’s a way to train a SD to help any disabling condition! It really is amazing.

If it is not apparent that the dog is a SD by looking, there are two questions that a business owner/employee may legally ask. 1. Is that a Service Animal required because of a disability; and 2. What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform. One cannot ask for any proof of the person’s disability, the dog’s training or ask that the dog perform any of his tasks. There are countless different tasks that dogs can be trained to do to help disabled individuals. These tasks include picking up dropped items, retrieving medication, opening doors, pulling a wheelchair, interrupting compulsive behaviors, alerting to sounds, guiding a handler, and so much more. Providing comfort is no longer considered a valid task for a SD according to the ADA, though it can be a very helpful bonus. If you are not a business owner or employee, the handler is not required to answer any of your questions. If you are polite and friendly, she may be willing to talk with you, but may not have the time or capability to do so. Please understand that some disabled individuals with SDs may have a hard time communicating or may be anxious in social situations. If a SD handler does not wish to talk, please be respectful of her wishes. Also, please always ask before petting a SD and do not be offended if the handler declines. The dog is working and may not be able to properly do his job if he is distracted.

For more information about Service Dogs please visit or  For more information about the author and her Service Dog in Training, please visit

Should Oakland allow dogs in more parks?

Check out the proposal to make Oakland more dog friendly. Lots of improvements and some major gottchas…..such as assuming that dog parks should be in blighted areas, that dog owners should pay to use the parks and that current users have more rights to the parks than we do.

Contact us at odogparks at comcast dot net to receive a copy of the report and start reviewing it now.

ODOG East Bay Dog-Friendly Mapping Project

Map of Off-Leash Areas in the Oakland East Bay

Map of East Bay off-leash parks and trails, and dog-friendly bars and restaurants. Click to expand.

Last weekend at the Oakland CatVidFest, a very nice couple came up to the ODOG table. They just moved to Oakland from the East Coast, and suggested that we pull together a map of dog parks for our website. We thought that was a great idea! In addition to the few fenced dog parks in Oakland, we added in the great unfenced options. We also included a few of the dog-friendly bars and restaurants that we knew of. We’re pretty sure we missed some of each of those categories, so please let us know! Drop us a line if you know of any other off-leash parks or trails, or dog-friendly bars and restaurants.

Snow Park Supporters Needed April 10

We get a chance to tell the city what we want at the new dog park. Think about choices such as large/small dog areas or one big area; agility equipment; fence or no fence. Contact us at for meeting detailsCaleb the Corgi

Snow Park Brainstorm

The City is moving ahead with plans for a dog run at Snow Park near Lake Merritt. Join ODOG for an informal brainstorm to give them ideas for the best features for the new downtown dog park.

Saturday February 23
Snow Park at 19th & Harrison
Please contact for more information

New Dog Park Possibility for Lakeview

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 8.30.05 AM

The city is proposing a portion of Snow Park at 19th and Harrison as a possible location for a new dog park (instead of Lakeview/Astro). The dog area would be about half an acre, have an architectural fence and all the usual features. There will be a special meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) to get public input on the site and show some very general plans about how the dog park could be included as part of a total revitalization and expansion plan for park. The plan looks good to the ODOG members who have seen it.
There will be a public hearing on the site:
Mon., Jan. 28th, 4:30-6:30 pm
Lakeside Garden Center ($2.00 parking fee)
666 Bellevue

Dog Park Cliffhanger

The Lake Merritt Dog Park got the majority of votes on City Council last night but…….we need a “super majority” .  Four votes in our favor and three against. Five votes are needed to decide the issue  Council Member Jane Brunner wasn’t at the meeting so we couldn’t get the conclusive fifth vote from her. That will happen next time ! The council will hear the issue again Tuesday December 18 so mark your calendar now. Contact Jane Brunner at and let her know how much this dog park means to you.  Image

Lakeview Hearing Date Set: 12/4/12

The Oakland City Council will hear our appeal on Tuesday, December 4th at 5:30 pm. It’s very important that we have a large number of our supporters there. Please join us! City Hall is at One Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th & Broadway). There is a parking lot one block away at 14th & Clay, and 12th Street/City Center BART is one block away. If you need a ride to the meeting, email us and we will hook you up.

This will be our last chance to get a small slice of off-leash space in central Oakland. All of the parkland in the Lake Merritt area is completely off-limits to people with dogs, even on leash. All we are asking for is half an acre. Help us end this inequity.


  • Come to the meeting on December 4th. If you want to speak, let us know. We’d be happy to help you with speaking points if you’d like.
  • Write to City Council, and tell them to approve this park. You can email, use our handy form, send a handwritten letter to Council, Oakland City Hall, One Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612, Call your City Council member.
  • Watch our videos, and spread the word to your friends.
  • If you haven’t already, please join our Facebook page. We will keep you posted on next steps.
  • Share our post on Facebook about this meeting, and tell your friends to come.
  • If you’d like to volunteer to help, send us an email.

Pizza & Pooches: Space available: Join us!

We’re having an event to discuss the proposed Lakeview dog park, and get letters to City Council. Meet your fellow dog-lovers in a beautiful, sunny private garden. We will provide all the supplies, and pizza and snacks, too.

LOCATION: 373 Hanover Street, Oakland [map]

Date: Sunday, October 7th, 1 pm – 4 pm

What: Pizza, snacks, and other refreshments. Bring your laptop or iPad if you want to send a letter electronically.

Dogs: Very well-behaved dogs are invited to come, too. As this is a private garden, dogs who love to dig may want to stay home.

City Council candidate Sean Sullivan, a strong supporter of ODOG will be available to take your questions. Mary Scott and Susan Snyder, who collaborated on a beautiful book of historical photos of dogs will be signing their book as a fundraiser for ODOG ($15 for a copy).