Dateline: Any day, any trail on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve – Dogs off leash:

Walking on the Bluff Trail with his dog off leash, the man and the dog see a fawn scampering up ahead.  The dog takes off after the fawn, and both dog and fawn disappear into the thick growth of bush lupine.  The man calls the dog, but it takes more than a few pleas before the dog returns.  At the very least, the fawn suffered a traumatic experience.

     With her dog off leash, the visitor walking the Forest Loop Trail sees another visitor heading toward her with a small dog on leash.  The off-leash dog sees the small dog and races toward it, barking fiercely.  The owner of the small dog quickly picks up her dog and stands her ground, as the charging, barking dog approaches.  The owner of the charging dog races to stop the encounter, grabbing the dog by its collar just before it reaches the other woman who is quite frightened, holding her trembling dog.

     The off-leash dog runs along the Marine Terrace Trail, chasing a ball thrown by its owner, who trails well behind.  The ball lands in front of a lone woman walking the trail.  The happy dog stops in front of the woman, possibly wanting her to pick up the ball and throw it.  The scene, however, is not happy for the woman who is very much afraid of dogs.  The dog’s owner approaches and assures her that his dog is friendly.  That declaration does not soothe the woman, whose fright turns to anger.  She makes known her displeasure and walks away.

     These incidences are real, occur regularly, and will continue to occur until and unless visitors who bring their dogs to the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve recognize and obey the law.  County Code (9.08.020) clearly states that dogs on any unincorporated public spaces must be on leash.  All trails of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve are to be shared and enjoyed by all—community members and Cambria visitors alike.  Many who visit include people with seeing eye/service dogs, young children, people using canes or carrying oxygen, and people who are frightened of dogs.  

     For all who visit the Ranch to enjoy its beauty and bounty, dog owners must respect the rights and safety of others by having their dogs on leash.  The only public space in Cambria where dogs can be off leash is at the Cambria Dog Park on Rodeo Grounds Road and adjacent to the CCSD Facilities and Resources Department.  Protect your dog, yourself, other visitors, other dogs, and Ranch wildlife – Obey the Law.