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Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
#56059 08/21/19 09:26 AM
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Well, just back from a couple days of hiking out of Onion Valley and want to share an interesting observation.

On Monday, I encountered a hiker just below the pass with a dog. I asked where she was heading and she responded, "Kearsarge Lakes." I mention that dogs are not allowed in the Nation Park. She responded by saying, the dog is a comfort dog, so it is okay.

I was flabbergasted.

And, the same situation on Tuesday with another hiker, with the same response.

I decided to stop by the Visitor's center on my way back home, but ran into two Forest Rangers, and they indicated that the only dogs allowed in the backcountry were guide dogs or service animals.

paul

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Paul #56062 08/21/19 11:35 AM
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comfort dogs seem unnecessary. the backcountry is already full of comfort marmots, comfort chipmunks, comfort mosquitos, comfort bears...

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Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
timisimaginary #56068 08/21/19 01:57 PM
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What it all comes down to is whether this “comfort dog” is actually a registered service animal.

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Paul #56074 08/22/19 07:48 AM
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Only seeing eye dogs should be allowed in parks, planes, or elsewhere. These comfort dogs are scams by people who can't bear to leave Fido at home or who are too cheap to pay for boarding. They are gaming the system.

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
RichardK #56079 08/22/19 03:38 PM
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The following is a response from Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park regarding "comfort dogs."

Hello Paul,

Thank you for your interest in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks!

You are correct, only service dogs are allowed on trails at Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP. Dogs that are considered therapy, comfort, or emotional support do meet the Federal guidelines for service animals. This is a very difficult thing to enforce. Please keep your own safety in mind before confronting anyone about their dog.

Thank you for reporting your experiences.

Have a wonderful day!

Sincerely,
Public Information Staff

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Paul #56085 08/23/19 09:08 AM
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The following is a response from Inyo National Forest out of Lone Pine regarding "comfort dogs."

****************************************

Hi Paul,

We have noticed the increase in visitors with pets that do not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act definition of a service animal.
On the Inyo National Forest side of the Sierra pets are allowed. We do inform visitors about the National Park policy on animals when they are issued a wilderness permit with a travel plan into the Parks.

*****************************************

So, is there a difference in understanding between the two entities?

paul

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Paul #56089 08/23/19 11:29 AM
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Paul,
National Parks and National Forests have very different rules, and dogs are just one. Guns can be carried in a National Park, but not "discharged". Hunting is allowed in National Forests.

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Steve C #56091 08/23/19 11:41 AM
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True Steve and I understand that logic, however, in my conversation with the Inyo Rangers as I descended from Kearsarge Pass, they, the rangers had firm ideas as to those with dogs heading into the National Park. Their views were the same as the national park. However, it seems the Inyo visitor center was different in their official response.

I have absolutely no problem with the National Forest rules, I am just tired of people claiming that they have a right, via having a comfort dog to enter the national Park.

paul

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Paul #56092 08/23/19 11:46 AM
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I don't think you got mixed answers from Inyo vs the trail rangers: Trail rangers were referring to the nearby backcountry and were probably thinking about the other side of Kearsarge Pass, which of course is SeKi. If you had pressed them to elaborate, backcountry in the National Forest vs National Parks, they would likely have given you the same info as your email from Inyo.

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Steve C #56093 08/23/19 12:11 PM
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No problem Steve. The comfort dog issue just irritates me. It's people using comfort dogs as an excuse.

paul

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
Paul #59829 11/01/22 03:05 AM
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Interestingly, you observed this, and it seems like there is a discrepancy between what the hikers are saying and what the Rangers are saying. The hikers may not be aware of the regulations and misunderstand what they hear from the Rangers. It is also possible that the Rangers are not enforcing the regulations as strictly as they could be. If you are concerned about this issue, I recommend registering your dog on www.servicedogregistration.org and getting all the documents that your dog is a service one.

Last edited by nicholleiwaoka7; 11/01/22 03:06 AM.
Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
nicholleiwaoka7 #59831 11/01/22 11:51 AM
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There is no official registration for service dogs/animals. Those sites tend to be a money making scam (or sell the harnesses/cards to simply anyone). Here's the ADA FAQ page regarding service animals for more info (about this and what is/isn't a service animal as well as the legal implications): https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
tif #59832 11/02/22 08:55 AM
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What is the thought process for banning dogs?

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
BFR #59833 11/02/22 09:46 AM
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> What is the thought process for banning dogs?

For national parks: I think because some people are afraid of them; also, some will attack a stranger; also, some people unleash them, and then they chase the wildlife.

Re: Comfort Dogs in the Backcountry?
BFR #59835 11/06/22 10:02 AM
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Dog scofflaw here. Assuming the dogs are always leashed on the trails and they are not disease carriers, reasons against:

(1) Dog haters. You are ruining their wilderness experience with your stupid pet. Kind of ironic that, if they were alive today, "Dog Narcs" would swarm John Muir and his dog buddy Stickeen on his own damn trail! Also, early humans had dogs so I guess the "wilderness experience" is pre-human evolution.

(2) "Predator Scent" on the trail (a very small percent of the wilderness) dissuades criters from showing up on the trail to give you "high fives" on your epic hikes, thus reducing the wilderness experience. Then there is this "camera trap" study "https://news.ncsu.edu/2016/10/dog-human-effects-wildlife/": "“The bottom line of our work is that we have a ton of dogs using our parks, but most stay on-trail and don’t harass wildlife much".

My view:
Americans are FAT, American's dogs are FAT. Americans should be enticed to do exercise via "Exciting Big Walkies" with their dogs which is "killing two birds with one stone". It is much harder to con human friends into "going after work to do a 10,000 foot vertical mountain climb starting at midnight until our bodies feel like pain filled jelly and you are hallucinating from exhaustion and lack of sleep". Friend: "Nah, I'm good." Your dog:"LETS GO NOW!". So I am on the side of encouraging people's exercise vs weakly researched "environmental extremism".

Last edited by jaym; 11/06/22 02:56 PM.

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