Supervisor Asked For Less Aggressive Ranger Patrols Prior to Huntington Park Dog Attack

It's not uncommon for rookie politicians to unwittingly involve themselves in long-stewing special-interest battles. In that tradition, freshman Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has taken a series of actions that have drawn him into a particularly vicious, only-in-San-Francisco conflict — the fight, at least a decade old, over the rights of dogs in city parks.

Two weeks ago, we reported that Marion Cope, the 73-year-old Nob Hill resident and widow of late Huntington Hotel owner Newton Cope, suffered a brutal calf injury after she and her Irish terrier were swarmed by a group of off-leash dogs in Huntington Park last month. Now some dog advocates in the neighborhood say that Chiu, at their behest, requested that city park rangers scale back their enforcement of leash laws at the park prior to the incident.

Chiu confirmed his request, saying he had made a phone call to Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Recreation and Park Department. He characterized it as a routine part of his job, and said he meant only to pass along feedback from constituents about allegations of overzealous park patrolling — not to strong-arm Rec and Park into changing its practices. “What I told those individuals is that I would pass their feedback along to Rec and Park and ask them to bring it to an appropriate level of enforcement, and that's what I did,” Chiu told SF Weekly.

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