UPDATED: Neighbors Say Fertilizer Used in Precita Park Made Dogs Sick

Two Bernal Heights neighbors say their dogs became ill after visiting Precita Park last week, shortly after City workers applied a chemical to the grass.

In an email to D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Neighbor Linda writes:

Last week, the day that fertilizer was applied to the grass in Precita Park, our dogs started foaming at the mouth and throwing up. My dog became seriously lethargic for 24 hours.

We need to know:

  1. What fertilizer was used? so that we can tell our veterinarians.
  2. What is the schedule for applying fertilizer on Precita Park grass and can it be posted in the park?
  3. How do we stop the use of this/these chemicals in Precita Park?

This must also be dangerous for babies and small children. It couldn’t be healthy for larger children and adults either.

I expect that the rain has diluted the chemicals for now, but Precita Park will get fertilizer again.

In a follow-up note to Supervisor Ronen, Neighbor Roman adds:

My dog Yogi went to the park around the same dates and has gotten very sick. He has been vomiting and foaming at the mouth. Please do advise us the type of fertilizer and if any new type of grass has been used to replace dry spots. We have taken our dog to surrounding parks and not encountered these issues. I will continue to ask other dog owners if they are experiencing similar issues. This is a major concern for us and we are taking this matter very seriously.

Supervisor Ronen says she will follow-up with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to learn more. Bernalwood will provide additional information as it becomes available.

UPDATE: 1:30 pm: Connie Chan from Rec and Park sent this response to Bernalwood:

The Department received feedback including possible concerns about dogs getting sick after visiting Precita Park last week.

Recently, the Department has roped off newly seeded areas in Park as these areas were re-seeded some time ago with standard grass mix, and the grass mix should not have any negative effect on humans and animals, including dogs. We have checked in with our park operations staff about their maintenance activities, and they confirmed that there were no fertilizer applications at the Park for well over a year.

It should also be noted that the Department utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) throughout our park system, which means we minimize any use of herbicide (and no rodenticide or any toxic chemical are allowed) and all herbicide application that meets the SF Environment regulations would be posted at the site for public notice and documented in our records. Here is more info on IPM from SF Environment.

However, with abundance of precaution, we are still looking into our maintenance activities last week and would welcome any input from the public on any incidents that they might have possibly witnessed and believed to be related. At this point, the only other maintenance activity of note that was occurring at the park, was our spring irrigation system tune-up. We will be inspecting the Park this week to see if we can identify any potential hazards that could be related to this incident.

PHOTO: Magic, one of the dogs that recently became ill. Image of Magic shown in Precita Park prior to the sickness incident, courtesy of Neighbor Linda.

Bernal Coyote Scared But Safe After Close Call With Dog

Bernal Coyote, hiding in a thicket after the chase. Photo by Janet Kessler

The coyote that lives on Bernal Hill had a close call last week, after a domesticated dog decided to chase her. The ensuing scene was so loud and chaotic that several readers wrote to tell Bernalwood about it, so we in turn reached out to San Francisco coyote-whisperer Janet Kessler to see if he had any information about the incident.

Providentially, Janet was on the scene when the dog chased the Bernal Coyote, and Janet shared this report:

The coyote had just spent a few moments on a peaceful grassy perch where she was observing the urban world as she knew it: the large city below and the dog walkers on and off the trails of a grassy park higher up. She got up to wander around the hillside when suddenly a dog caught sight of her and was after her in a flash — it was a large, golden retriever-like dog.

The coyote ran lickety-split away from the dog, into the street with the dog right at her heels. In the street, of course, both coyote and dog are endangered by traffic, but fortunately cars were sparse at that moment. Having flown across the street, the coyote dashed into the thicket on the other side of the street. Thickets serve as harborage for our wild coyotes, especially from dogs and people. It’s where they can rest and relax without being seen, and when the thickets are impenetrable, coyotes feel safe. Dogs usually can’t, or have difficulty, venturing into these thickets, so the dog remained on the street where the owner was able to grab it.

In the thicket, with her eyes glued in the direction of the dog, the little coyote vented her distress. She remained there and screeched her heart out for 20 minutes, looking over her shoulder now and then as dogs, people and loud traffic moved by on the next street. This is what she sounded like:

When she was done, she got up and walked away. I followed the coyote to make sure she wasn’t injured. I knew the dog hadn’t reached her, so she would have no injuries from his/her mouth. It wasn’t an “attack” but simply a harrowing “pursuit”. Still, I’ve seen coyotes injured in the past as they fled pursuing dogs. One such coyote limped for days, having twisted or injured an ankle or wrist in its hurry to get away. Luckily, the Bernal coyote displayed no signs of any injuries.

I also spoke to a dog-walker, Patrice, who said she had witnessed two motor scooters pursuing this same little coyote up and down the streets several weeks ago. It must have been another harrowing experience for the coyote. Did these humans not know how cruel they were being? What might be considered fun and games for us and our dogs is actually a matter of life and death for this little coyote. Please help stop this kind of activity whenever you notice it!

PHOTO AND VIDEO: Courtesy of Janet Kessler from Coyote Yipps

CurbedSF Collects Cute Pics of “Dopey Dogs of Bernal Hill”

Our friends at CurbedSF have collected a lovely set of photos about all the doggies to be found atop Bernal Hill. They write:

If you rent in San Francisco and your rent-control lease specifies no-pets, you too might known the pain of living a pooch-free life. So much so that you’re resorted to petting any dog that passes by and/or visiting dog parks alone just to take pics of other peoples’ pups. Which isn’t creepy at all.

Abate your puppy pangs with this series of shots atop Bernal Hill. The Bernal Heights summit is noted for being the place in San Francisco to take your dog.

And from there, a great deal of cuteness ensues.

During Pup Season, Coyote Whisperer Warns of Canine Encounters

coyote.kessler

If you’re a pet-owner, you may have already heard about the small dog that was attacked by a coyote near Stern Grove last week. Turns out, it’s pup-season for coyotes. This is the time of year when — just like us! — stressed-out mama coyotes are introducing their progeny to life in San Francisco.

Coyotes roam in many San Francisco’s parks and open spaces, although the coyotes in Bernal Heights are exceptionally creative and stylish. Of course, we Bernalese are world-famous for our fondness for dogs, and lots of those pets also roam free here. So during pup season, Janet Kessler, creator of Coyote Yipps, a blog about San Francisco coyotes, shares this wisdom about coyote-canine interactions:

It is coyote pupping season again! During pupping season there is more potential for dog/coyote encounters and possible confrontations. By following simple guidelines we can prevent most encounters and we can be prepared for any inadvertent encounter that does pop up.

San Francisco has several dozen coyotes living in the city, mostly in nuclear families. They’re in all of our major parks. Because most folks in San Francisco have dogs or cats, and because there are pups in some of the parks — pups would be about 4 months old now — it is a good time to brush up on coyote behavior and the guidelines necessary for peacefully coexisting. The information applies in any park where there are coyotes, whether or not there are pups.

Coyotes are out most often when it’s dark and when we humans aren’t around. However, most folks now realize that it’s not uncommon to see coyotes out during the day — they are not nocturnal animals.

Coyotes live in family units, not packs of unrelated individuals. We have a number of coyote families living in the city of San Francisco. Coyotes mate for life, and both parents raise the young and watch out for their safety — we’re talking about real family life here. It’s hard not to admire a species that puts so much effort into maintaining their own monogamous relationship and into the care and safety of their youngsters. Parents play with, bring food to, groom, defend, lead family outings, teach, tease and discipline their youngsters, not so differently from the way humans do: coyote life is about family life. Each family claims a territory from which other coyotes are kept out. This insures that there will be enough resources for the family unit.

How to get along with coyotes? Treat them as you would any other wild animal, such as a skunk or raccoon, by moving away from them and keeping your dogs away from them, which can only be done by leashing up! Leashing will keep your dog from chasing a coyote, and it will keep your dog close to you, thus discouraging a coyote from coming in closer to your dog. Coyotes will do their utmost to avoid humans and human encounters, so the issue isn’t about you. However, although they’ll shy away from people, they may give territorial messages to dogs who come too close, the same as they do to any other non-family coyote who might potentially threaten their territorial claims: this could result in a nip to your dog’s haunches — cattle-dog fashion — to get the dog to leave the area. And small pets may look like any other prey to them: so please leash your pets in known coyote areas and don’t allow them to roam free. Coyotes have been spotted wandering through virtually every park in San Francisco.

Everyone with a dog should know how to shoo off a coyote who has come too close — it’s know-how that’s needed just in case there’s an unexpected encounter. Simply harassing a coyote with screams, flailing arms and making yourself look big is often not effective. Coyotes get used to this and eventually ignore it as meaningless and quirky human behavior. It’s best actually to, 1) approach or charge towards the coyote, and to, 2) do so menacingly as though you’re out to get them, by eyeballing them with eye-to-eye contact and yelling “SCRAM, get out of here!” Often, your piercing gaze into their eyes alone is enough to get them to move on.

However — and this is an all-important caveat — if they absolutely do not move, it will be because pups are close by. In this case, it’s best to keep the peace by respecting their need to keep you out of the area they won’t move from: just back away rather than provoke an incident, without running. If one follows you, turn and face the coyote — he’s unlikely to come closer with your eyes glaring at him. However, if he just stands there, again, try charging in his direction as described above to get him off of your tail. As always, prevention is the best medicine — always keep your distance in the first place.

“Coyotes As Neighbors” is a YouTube video presentation which explains relevant coyote behavior — including their intense family lives and territoriality towards other canines, be they dogs or other coyotes — plus guidelines for keeping us all, humans, pets AND coyotes, safe and worry-free. The video includes two demos on how to effectively shoo off a coyote who has come too close. [There’s also a Spanish version and a Mandarin version.]

Here’s what to look for: Janet also shares this video of a female coyote in San Francisco acting distressed because of the presence of dogs:

PHOTO: Top, Janet Kessler

Bernal Neighbor Creates Eco-Friendly Bags For Doggie Business

barkbag1

Neighbor Ron created a new product for dog owners, and he wants to offer you a neighborly discount:

I’ve been a Bernal resident for almost 3 years now (moved from North Beach), and I absolutely love the neighborhood. Being a dog enthusiast my whole life, I was thrilled to be moving into Bernal Heights where dogs and people seem to live in perfect harmony. A couple years ago, toxic plastic bags were being discontinued in favor of BYOB and paper bags, which cut into the supply of bags to pick up after your pets.

The pet stores around the Bay Area still sold plastic bags for dog owners, and I decided to search for a different solution. After conducting some research, I decided the problem could be solved with en eco-friendly dog waste bag, made entirely out of natural materials.

Bark Bags are made from corn starch, and they’re non toxic and designed in San Francisco. We are on a mission to help dog owners Reduce their Carbon Paw Print by picking up after their pooches with eco friendly bags.

Click here for 5% off and Free Shipping: Use the code Bernal

PHOTO: Neighbor Ron

This Lovely Bernal Dog Needs a New Home

elf

UPDATE: Neighbor Ben says Elf is on track to have a new home in Bernal Heights. *Whew!* The original post follows…

Neighbor Ben hopes to find a loving Bernal home for a sweet doggie named Elf. He explains:

Hi Bernalers.

Our sweet Bernese Mountain Dog, Elf, needs a new home and we’re hoping to find someone in Bernal to re-home her. Our 1yr old daughter has developed a very bad allergic reaction to dog dander/saliva and despite our army of air filters and efforts to segregate her from Elf, her symptoms have not improved. We’re in a state of constant vigilance trying to keep the baby from touching the dog or crawling through an area where Elf has slept… and the stress is overwhelming, and it’s not an ideal situation for Elf either. So, we’re hoping to find Elf a great home in Bernal – so that Elf stays somewhere familiar… and so that we can (ideally) take her for an occasional walk.

Elf is a sweet, gentle, 7-yr old Bernese Mountain Dog. She’s in great physical shape – no hip problems – and no other health issues. She’s on the small side for a Bernese at 70lbs. When you meet her, you’ll think she’s just a young pup because she’s full of energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. After an initial burst of energy when you come home or someone new arrives, she quiets down and then likes to laze around the house. She’s a big fan of walks to Bernal Hill and, if you’ve got a good pocket full of treats, has amazing recall. She’s very well potty trained, doesn’t mind a stay in the crate for a few hours, is great with kids, and generally is an all around awesome dog. Her one downside is that she love to engulf socks!.. especially little kid socks. So, you’ve got to keep socks out of reach.

If you’re interested, please email xxxxxxx and let’s arrange a walk on the hill or a weekend visit for you to get to know her to see if it’s the right fit.